Weekend Review - Week 16

by SumerSports|December 26, 2023

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Welcome back to another edition of the SumerSports Weekend Review!

Every week, 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.

Be sure to check out the SumerSports podcast feed, follow us on Twitter @SumerSports, and sign up for the newsletter for more content like this.

Excitement Index

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 16’s excitement scores:

There was great football across the entire weekend with multiple games having a 7+ excitement index.

Saturday had one of the most exciting games of the year with the Bills coming back from a 10-point deficit early to take a 21-13 lead into the 4th quarter only for the Chargers to score 9 unanswered leading to a Buffalo game winning drive.

Sunday saw the Commanders rally from down 20-0 to take a 28-27 lead before a game winning field goal by the Jets. The Seahawks also scored late to pull off the road win against the Titans. Cowboys-Dolphins was a back-and-forth game between two playoff teams that finished with the Dolphins executing a methodical 12 play drive to close out the game.

The teams that took care of business were the Steelers, Buccaneers, Browns, and Falcons.

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.

Dallas Cowboys (20) @ Miami Dolphins (22)

Both offenses put out good performances in this game as the Dolphins were able to lean on their pass game just enough on the final drive to close out this game. Despite not being able to do much in the run game (26th percentile EPA/rush), the Dolphins were able to have a 68th percentile EPA/pass with multiple explosive passing plays. The 50-yard Jaylen Waddle reception was one of the biggest plays of the game while Tyreek Hill had three receptions of 15+ yards and secondary receivers like Durham Smythe, Robbie Chosen, and Cedric Wilson all had 15+ yard receptions themselves. Fullback Alec Ingold was also an underrated aspect of this Dolphins win with the Dolphins having a 0.16 EPA/play when in 21 personnel and only a 0.01 EPA/play when in 11 personnel. Jason Sanders had a huge day with five total field goals, and three of them were from 50+ yards out.

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense also had a good day through the air as Prescott finished with 8.1 total EPA and CeeDee Lamb had 9.5 total EPA when targeted. Lamb now leads the entire league in total EPA when targeted on the season. The Cowboys were again a high pass rate team with a +5.1% pass rate over expected and that was more than justified as they had a 84th percentile EPA/pass but only a 20th percentile EPA/rush. The Cowboys got into 0 running back sets on 7 out of their 65 plays and had some success out of it with most of their success happening when they were 11 personnel. The biggest swing of the game was the Dallas’ fumble at the goal line that totaled -6.7 total EPA and a -14% win probability swing.

Baltimore Ravens (33) @ San Francisco 49ers (19)

In the most impressive win of the season so far, the Ravens come out of San Francisco with a 14 point win. On offense, they had a 68th percentile EPA/play and a 68th percentile EPA/dropback. The 49ers defense causes offenses to pass more than anyone else in the league and the Ravens were no different with a +8.0% pass rate over expected as Zay Flowers had a team-leading 36% target share that led to 5.2 total EPA when targeted. Isaiah Likely continues to step up in the absence of Mark Andrews and had 5.1 total EPA when targeted. 

What was most impressive about the Ravens offensive performance is Lamar Jackson only scrambled twice (for 39 yards) and was used on designed rushes 4 times (for 7 yards) while almost all of his production came from the pass game. When discussing statistics for Most Valuable Player, just remember that Gus Edwards has scored 11 touchdowns from the +3 yard line and closer this season.

In their 4 losses this year, the 49ers had a 3rd percentile success rate against the Browns, a 95th percentile success rate against the Vikings, a 90th percentile success rate against the Bengals, and a 43rd percentile success rate against the Ravens. They have had a 47.2% success rate (equivalent to the 5th best in the NFL) in their losses this season. That’s a lot of ink to say that they have moved the ball well, especially in this game, but it was the 5 interceptions that caused them to have an 18th percentile EPA/play and 9th percentile EPA/dropback. Christian McCaffrey and Brandon Aiyuk continue to add to All Pro-level seasons with 2.4 and 11.6 total EPA respectively.

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 some surprises.

Quarterbacks

Just as we all expected, Joe Flacco led all quarterbacks in total EPA generated at age 38 after joining the Browns midway through the season.

Baker Mayfield continued to stack good weeks throwing for 283 yards as the Buccaneers rolled over the Jaguars.

Despite having a fluky safety early against the 49ers, Lamar Jackson put himself 10th on the list with 252 passing yards and another 46 yards on the ground.

Rushers

Khalil Herbert was explosive against the Cardinals with rushes of 15, 13, 12, and 11 with 5.5 total rush EPA on the day.

Both the Titans and the Falcons got two of their running backs on the list as Tennessee had Derrick Henry and Tyjae Spears and Atlanta had Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson present.

Pass Catchers

Amari Cooper had the single best receiving performance of the season catching 11 of his 16 targets for 265 yards and 25.4 total EPA. It was the 3rd most total EPA generated by a receiver since 1999 only behind Wes Welker in Week 3 of 2011 and Ja’Marr Chase in Week 17 of 2021.

The Rams young receivers continued to shine with Puka Nacua having 14.6 total EPA and Demarcus Robinson having 8.0 total EPA.

Updated Playoff Probability Graph

It was as good of a weekend as the Bills could have asked for as not only did they win against the Chargers but the Texans, Bengals, and Broncos all lost, giving them some breathing room in the AFC Wild Card picture.

In the NFC, the Buccaneers have now cemented themselves as the strong favorite in the NFC South while the Rams are surging towards the playoffs and could get a 49ers team resting starters in Week 18 to clinch the postseason.

Overtime

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.

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