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 14’s excitement scores:
There were some great Week 14 games, and no game was more exciting than the overtime thriller between the Rams and Ravens. The rainy game featured 5 scores in the 4th quarter and overtime. before a rare walk-off punt return touchdown. Also happening at the same time was Buccaneers-Falcons that featured 4 lead changes in the 4th quarter as Baker Mayfield hit Cade Otton for the game winning touchdown with 31 seconds remaining.
Later in the day, Bills-Chiefs lived up to expectations as the Bills took the lead with just under 2 minutes remaining only for the Chiefs to score what looked like the go ahead touchdown before it was called back for a rare offensive offsides. Vikings-Raiders was exciting to some who were following along to see if there was going to be a 0-0 tie for the first time in the Super Bowl era.
The teams that took care of business were the Broncos, Cowboys, Jets, and Bengals.
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.
Los Angeles Rams (31) @ Baltimore Ravens (37)
Despite the weather conditions being less than ideal, this game featured a lot of offense with the Rams having a 73rd percentile EPA/play and the Ravens having an 80th percentile EPA/play. What was particularly impressive was the Ravens had no Mark Andrews and a poor run game but found success with Lamar Jackson’s arm. Baltimore had 7 pass catchers get a target as the bulk went to Odell Beckham (10 targets), Isaiah Likely (7), and Zay Flowers (10), with each of them getting a touchdown as well. The Ravens utilized 11 personnel 47% of the time in games where Mark Andrews was healthy, but that jumped up to 62% against the Rams. With one running back and one tight end on the field on Sunday, they passed 93% of the time and were very efficient doing so as they finished the game with a +5.8% pass rate over expected – their 2nd highest mark of the season.
The Rams offense also had a day built off of big plays with a 92nd percentile explosive play rate as they were able to put up 31 points in an environment that other NFC teams like the Lions and Seahawks struggled in. Los Angeles had 10 plays that went for over 15 yards with all of them being passes: 3 to Cooper Kupp, 3 to Puka Nacua, 2 to Demarcus Robinson, and 2 to Davis Allen. Kupp and Nacua continue to prove that they are one of the scarier receiver duos to play against right now, and they have a quarterback that has been able to feed them down field. The Rams continue to get so much production out of their rookie class with Kyren Williams leading all rushers in rushing EPA and Puka Nacua leading all pass catchers in receiving EPA in this game. Even with the loss and dropping to 6-7, the Rams still are very much in the playoff picture.
Buffalo Bills (20) @ Kansas City Chiefs (17)
It wasn’t even two years ago that Bills-Chiefs finished 42-36 in overtime with Josh Allen having +26.2 total EPA and Patrick Mahomes having +28.5 total EPA as both offenses had a 98th percentile EPA/play. In this game, Josh Allen had -1.1 total EPA and Patrick Mahomes had -3.8 total EPA. The Bills offense finished with a 47th percentile EPA/play and the Chiefs had a 29th percentile EPA/play. Despite the offense decreasing, the game was still a thriller and left us with a lot of actionable takeaways.
For the Bills, this was the James Cook game as he ran for 5.8 yards per carry on a Chiefs run defense that ranks 31st in rush defense. He also had 5 receptions for 83 yards and the opening touchdown of the game. All 5 of his targets came in the first half as the Bills utilized pass catchers like Dalton Kincaid and Latavius Murray more in the second half and saw their EPA/play go from +0.12 EPA/play to -0.16 EPA/play between halves. Despite the production falling off, Buffalo did a great job of avoiding negative plays and made the Chiefs offense work their way back into the game themselves.
This was another game where the Chiefs couldn’t find a secondary receiving option to step up. Travis Kelce and Rashee Rice combined for 155 receiving yards on 10 targets each, but Kansas City didn’t have another player go over 30 receiving yards. Kadarius Toney was the only receiver with at least 3 targets that had a positive EPA when targeted, but he will be most remembered for an offensive offside on what would have been a touchdown to put the Chiefs ahead late in the 4th quarter. Instead, the Bills get a much-needed win and the Chiefs’ chances of being the #1 seed are now slimmer.
Top Performers of the Week
Using total EPA to determine the best performances, this week featured a mix of players we expect to see at the top and those who hope to repeat their performances.
Lamar Jackson played at a very high level against the Rams with the highest average depth of target of any quarterback and that resulted in316 passing yards plus 71 rushing yards in a big Ravens win.
Brock Purdy continues to be hyper efficient having 368 passing yards on just 27 pass attempts as he finished with a 0.47 EPA/play – the best on the week.
Some unexpected quarterbacks like Jake Browning, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, and Drew Lock all ended up in the top 10 of the total EPA leaderboard this week.
Miles Sanders broke off a 46 yard rush to fuel his total EPA and put him on top of the running back leaderboard for this week as he rushed for a 50% success rate on his 10 carries.
Christian McCaffrey continues to see himself towards the top of the list with 145 rush yards and 3.7 total EPA.
Kyren Williams got 25 carries, which makes his 60% success rate even more impressive as we often see efficiency decrease as volume increases.
Deebo Samuel is another player that delivered a hyper efficient performance with 149 yards (91 after the catch) on only 9 targets.
Evan Engram caught 11 of his 12 targets without Christian Kirk and had 2 touchdowns on the day.
Running backs James Cook, Breece Hall, and Chase Brown all find themselves on this list as well.
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 AFC playoff picture became increasingly more complicated after the results of Week 14. The Browns were sitting at the 5 seed and had a big win over the Jaguars jumping up to an 84% chance to make the postseason. There are 6 teams in the AFC sitting at 7-6 competing for the remaining 2 spots. The Broncos and Bills saw massive jumps in their chances after big AFC wins as they both sit right around 40% to make it to the playoffs. Conversely, the Texans and Steelers losing as favorites resulted in big hits to their playoff chances.
In the NFC, the NFC South is the main item of note as the Buccaneers, Falcons, and Saints all sit at 6-7 with the Falcons dropping 27% in their chance to make the playoffs after a loss to the Buccaneers. The Vikings squeaked out a 3-0 win against the Raiders to keep themselves in the 6 seed spot while the Rams and Seahawks are lurking around the 7 seed pending the results of Packers games.
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.