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 15’s excitement scores:
Saturday provided one of the best games of the season as Jake Browning and Tee Higgins brought the Bengals back from down 17-3 entering the 4th quarter. Cincinnati tied the game 24-24 to send it to overtime where the Bengals were able to get into field goal range on their 2nd possession.
Bears-Browns was also a great game as the Bears peaked at an over 90% win probability only for the Browns to score 13 unanswered and close it out with a game winning field goal. Joe Flacco had the 5th most total EPA by a Browns quarterback in the 4th quarter of a game since 1999 and the most total EPA since Baker Mayfield in Week 14 of 2020 against the Ravens.
The teams that took care of business were the Dolphins, Bills, Saints, Raiders, and Lions.
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.
Minnesota Vikings (24) @ Cincinnati Bengals (27)
In their past 3 games, the Bengals offense has put out 85th percentile, 65th percentile, and 73rd percentile EPA/play performances. Jake Browning has had a positive EPA in all of those games as he ranked 2nd in EPA/play, only behind Brock Purdy, since Week 13. The Bengals leaned on their tight ends in this game to counter the aggressiveness from the Vikings defense as Tanner Hudson had 5 receptions for 49 yards, Irv Smith Jr. had 2 receptions for 18 yards, and Drew Sample was used as a blocker. Ja’Marr Chase led the way with 5.9 total EPA when targeted but exited the game early only for Tee Higgins to step up and score one of the more impressive touchdowns of the season.
The Vikings also saw their pass catchers step up in a big way as Jordan Addison went for 111 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 10.8 total EPA when targeted while Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson both had at least 6 receptions and 60 yards. Despite being on their 4th quarterback of the season, Minnesota was able to have a 78th percentile EPA/pass as Nick Mullens finished with 7.6 total EPA himself. Ty Chandler also had a great day on the ground with 3.3 total EPA.
Dallas Cowboys (10) @ Buffalo Bills (31)
It was the James Cook game and the Bills fully understood that quickly. Buffalo came into this game with a +3.5% pass rate over expected – the 4th highest in the league. However, in this game they had a -15.3% PROE and justifiably so as they had a 95th percentile EPA/rush with James Cook leading the way at 8.3 total EPA generated. The Bills had 31 sets of downs in this game and 25 of them started with a rush as they converted 88% of those series into a 1st down. With Dawson Knox back, the Bills have now been able to get into 12 personnel on 33% of snaps and that is their grouping with the highest EPA/play on the day. They had a 60% pass rate in 11 personnel and a 19% pass rate in 12 personnel.
The Cowboys offense had a 29th percentile EPA/play and a 49th percentile success rate in the loss. The explosiveness that had become the standard during the offensive heater was not there as they had a 3rd percentile explosive play rate in this game. Since losing Matt Milano, the Bills ranked 26th in EPA/pass against middle of the field passes. However, in this game the Cowboys were only able to throw over the middle of the field on 6 plays and only completed 3 of them for a -0.27 EPA. When throwing outside of the middle of the field, they also had a negative EPA as the Bills defense was able to hold the passing attack to a 22nd percentile EPA performance.
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.
Baker Mayfield had one of the best passing performances of the season completing 22 of his 28 attempts for a 0.90 EPA/play in a win over the Packers.
Brock Purdy takes his usual spot in the top 3 of the top quarterback performances as he pushed the ball down field with the highest ADoT of any quarterback on the list.
Despite only throwing 10 pass attempts, Jacoby Brissett also finds his way to 6th on the list with a 0.93 EPA/play.
To no one’s surprise, James Cook finds himself on top of the rushers list running the ball 25 times at a 60% success rate. His teammate Ty Johnson also finds himself on the list rushing 9 times for 54 yards.
Jahmyr Gibbs put together another great performance with a 0.45 EPA/rush as he now leads the NFL in carries of 20+ yards with ten total on the year.
With no Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle commanded a 34.6% target share and caught 8 of his 9 targets for 142 yards and 13.7 total EPA.
Chris Godwin put together another great performance with 104 air yards and 12.5 total EPA.
The Lions have 2 players on the list with Sam LaPorta and Amon-Ra St. Brown both having big games against the Broncos.
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.
By now leading the NFC South, the Buccaneers see their chance of making the playoffs skyrocket as they have a 59.8% chance to win the division but could also get in through the Wild Card depending on other teams’ results. Also relevant in the NFC, the Packers and Vikings see their chances both take a hit with losses over the weekend as the Rams continue to creep closer to post-season football.
In the AFC, the Jaguars have now left the door open for either the Colts or Texans to win the division with all three teams sitting at 8-6 with three weeks to go. The Bills have firmly put themselves back into both the Wild Card and division picture as well.
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.