Welcome back to another edition of the SumerSports Weekend Review!
Every Monday, we will have a full recap of the weekend games including a postgame excitement index, game reviews, the top performers of the week at Quarterback, Wide Receiver, and Running Back, plus updated playoff probabilities.
Based on win probability swings, scoring, and other factors, we will have a postgame excitement index for each game of the NFL season. Here are Week 13’s excitement scores:
The best Thursday Night Football game of the season happened this week with the Seahawks and Cowboys combining for 76 points in a game where the Seahawks were up 8 at the beginning of the 4th quarter before the Cowboys scored 14 unanswered to close out the game.
On Sunday, the most exciting game was in the early slate with Colts-Titans as the lead changed 5 times in the 2nd half before the game went to overtime. There the Titans opened with a field goal before Gardner Minshew hit Michael Pittman for the game winning touchdown. Happening at the same time was Broncos-Texans in which the Broncos worked themselves back into the game after being down 16-3 and had 1st & goal from Houston’s 8 yard line with a chance to take the lead before throwing an interception to end the game. Also during the early slate, the Lions jumped out to a 21-0 lead before the Saints brought themselves back into the game with an ensemble of Derek Carr, Taysom Hill, and Jameis Winston as the Lions got a crucial 4th down stop to hang on.
The teams that took care of business were the Dolphins, 49ers, and Cardinals.
Notable Games of the Week
Let’s dive into some of the games of the week determined by a combination of excitement, notability, and other factors.
San Francisco 49ers (42) @ Philadelphia Eagles (19)
In one of the more anticipated matchups of the season, the 49ers avenged their NFC Championship Game loss from last year by having a 100th percentile EPA/play, 99th percentile EPA/pass, and 96th percentile EPA/rush against an Eagles defense that struggled to find answers for most of the game.
The 49ers offense started the game with two 3 and out’s. After those drives, they didn’t have a single set of downs that didn’t earn a 1st down or a touchdown. Brock Purdy had 24.1 total EPA on the day while Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and Jauan Jennings all had a positive EPA per target. Deebo Samuel’s 116 receiving yards were particularly impressive on just 4 targets and 1 air yard. The 49ers went more pass heavy than they have been this season, which has been the status quo for teams playing the Eagles defense and wanting to avoid their defensive line while taking advantage of injuries at the second and level.
The Eagles went very pass heavy in this game with a +10.4% pass rate over expected and a 59th percentile EPA/pass. However, their inability to run the ball hamstrung a lot of what they wanted to do on offense as Hurts ran 7 times for only 20 yards and D’Andre Swift ran 6 times for just 13 yards. The 49ers defense played well from front to back as the defensive line was able to get 3 sacks on the day while the back 7 held the Eagles to just a 12th percentile explosive play rate. The 49ers now sit one game back and own the tiebreaker for the 1 seed in the NFC as a playoff matchup between these two teams would be highly anticipated.
Kansas City Chiefs (19) @ Green Bay Packers (27)
In an efficient Sunday Night Football game with long possessions, the variance was increased as the Packers won a big one and put themselves very much in the hunt for the NFC playoffs. The Packers offense had answers for anything the Chiefs threw at them for most of the night with a 93rd percentile EPA/play and most impressively had a 0% negative play rate as the only true negative plays were two 3rd down sacks when they were already in field goal range.
Jordan Love continued his hot streak having 15.7 total EPA against a Chiefs defense that came into the game 5th in EPA/pass allowed. Green Bay continued to be able to spread the ball around with Christian Watson, Tucker Kraft, Romeo Doubs, Dontayvion Wicks and Malik Heath all having a positive EPA when targeted in this game as well.
Coming into Sunday, Patrick Mahomes had only taken 1 sack on 72 plays in the red zone the entire season. On Sunday, he ended up taking 3 sacks in the red zone, which turned potential touchdown drives into field goals and put the Chiefs behind early. The Chiefs were able to run the ball effectively with a 92nd percentile EPA/rush and only had a +1.1% pass rate over expected (much lower than their +8.3% pass rate over expected on the season). Travis Kelce and Rashee Rice combined for 10.6 total EPA on their targets while the rest of the Chiefs receivers had -1.8 total EPA on their targets. Those targets paired with the untimely sacks led to Kansas City having a 63rd percentile EPA/dropback.
Top Performers of the Week
Using total EPA to determine the best performances, this week featured some stars we’d expect to see at the top, as well as some surprise players that have some games left to continue those performances.
Brock Purdy is back on top of the total EPA board, completing 19 of his 27 pass attempts for 4 touchdowns on 11.6 yards per attempt in Philadelphia.
Thursday Night Football featured one of the best quarterback battles of the season as Geno Smith and Dak Prescott combined for 633 passing yards and 6 passing touchdowns, putting themselves both in the top 5 with quarterbacks like Tua Tagovailoa and Jordan Love.
Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff also see themselves next to each other in total EPA this week as both of their teams continue to stack wins.
None other than Christian McCaffrey led the league in total rushing EPA on the day with 5.5 yards per carry on 17 carries.
The Dolphins had two running backs in the top 10 as Devon Achane returned from injury to rush for 2 touchdowns while Raheem Mostert had a touchdown himself.
Derrick Henry makes his return to the list splitting carries with Tyjae Spears but had 4.9 yards per carry and 2 touchdowns himself.
DK Metcalf leads all pass catchers in total EPA generated in Week 13 with 134 yards and 3 touchdowns on just 8 targets – his best game of the season.
Tyreek Hill had just another day at the office combining a high amount of air yards with a yards after catch ability that very few receivers in the league have.
Nico Collins had a massive day with a 44.4% target share as he turned that into 191 yards as his role became especially prevalent with Tank Dell’s injury.
Tight ends had a great week as Sam LaPorta caught all 9 of his targets for 140 yards, Jake Ferguson feasted on Thursday Night, Travis Kelce had 4 big receptions, and Trey McBride continued to impress for the Cardinals.
Updated Playoff Probability Graph
The simulation above was run before Monday Night Football and thus teams that will play on Monday only show how their chances changed based on other results around the league.
The team with the biggest jump in their chance to make the postseason were the Indianapolis Colts who are now above 65% chance to make the playoffs in a very crowded AFC Wild Card race. Conversely, the Steelers and Broncos were big fallers as their losses make the path to the playoffs tougher for both teams with the Texans winning.
The NFC Wild Card race is also heating up as the Packers have now firmly established themselves as the NFC team with the 4th highest chance to make the playoffs with the Saints and Seahawks dropping games and the Vikings dropping despite being on a bye. The Falcons continue to separate in the NFC South.
That is all for the SumerSports Weekend Review. It was a great week of football that gave us a lot of interesting data points to look over as we start to get ready for the next set of games. As always, be sure to check out stats on SumerSports.com, articles at The Zone, the SumerSports podcast feed, and follow us on Twitter @SumerSports to dive even deeper for the rest of this season.