Weekend Review - Week 2

Photo: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

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Welcome to the first 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.

As always, be sure to check out SumerSports.com, the SumerSports podcast feed, and follow us on Twitter @SumerSports for more content like this.

Excitement Index

Based on win probability swings, scoring, and other factors, we will have a post-game excitement index for each game of the NFL season. Here are Week 2’s excitement scores:

The most exciting game of Sunday was Chargers-Titans with four lead changes in the 4th quarter and overtime as the Titans held on at home to win 27-24. The Chargers peaked at an 81% win probability midway through the 4th quarter, but a late Ryan Tannehill touchdown pass was enough for the Titans to force overtime on the way to a game winning field goal.

The Seahawks and Lions followed up last year’s shootout in yet another game that went to overtime where the Seahawks ended up winning 37-31 on the road. The Lions rallied from down 10 with 8 minutes left to force overtime but lost the coin toss and the Seahawks went down the field for the win.

A notable afternoon slate excitement score was Commanders-Broncos. The Commanders came back to control almost all of the 4th quarter including a 99% chance to win before the final play of the game. Russell Wilson then completed a hail mary down 8 points that set up a two point conversion that went the Commanders way.

The Giants came back from down 28-7 to beat the Cardinals 31-28, but there were not giant win probability swings in both directions. Instead, there was a slow build for the Giants before they took the lead. Nevertheless, both the early and late slates provided a ton of excitement.

Notable Games of the Week

Let’s dive into some of the games of the week that are determined based on a combination of excitement, notability, and other factors.

Baltimore Ravens (27) @ Cincinnati Bengals (24)

In a game that saw Baltimore enter as 3 point underdogs, the Ravens rose to 2-0 while the Bengals fell to 0-2. The Ravens were exceptional at staying ahead of schedule on offense with a 58% play success rate (97th percentile). This especially showed on late downs as they were able to convert on 80% of 3rd and 4th downs (99th percentile). With new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, the Ravens were able to be successful both on the ground and through the air with a 0.28 EPA/pass (77th percentile) and a 0.14 EPA/rush (85th percentile). Lamar Jackson was great in this game leading all players with 12.5 total EPA generated while Gus Edwards was able to fill in for J.K. Dobbins with 5.0 total EPA.

The Bengals were an offense built off the explosive play the past two seasons, but they had a 7% explosive rate (21st percentile) on Sunday and were limited in general. A punt return touchdown boosted their final score, but they had a 0.05 EPA/play (55th percentile) as they were not able to connect on many deep passes. The Bengals struggled on early downs with a -0.21 EPA/play (10th percentile), making them consistently have to convert on 3rd and 4th down to stay in the game. They weren’t able to do that enough as Ravens defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald showed yet another reason why he will be considered for head coaching jobs at the end of this season.

Seattle Seahawks (37) @ Detroit Lions (31)

The Seahawks put on an offensive clinic led by the Geno Smith connection to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. The Seahawks realized they had a major advantage in the passing game early and had a 9% pass rate over expected (88th percentile) and a 0.31 EPA/dropback (81st percentile). They also stayed ahead of schedule at a very high rate of 54.5% (92nd percentile) leaning on their pass game and benefitting from some impressive runs by Kenneth Walker.

As for the Lions side, they were also able to move the ball positively most of the game despite two costly turnovers. The Lions had a 50% success rate (76th percentile) but a -0.03 EPA/play (38th percentile) due to having a 12.5% negative play rate. David Montgomery had a fumble to open the second half leading to the Lions having a very negative day rushing the football, and a Jared Goff pick six muted some of their passing success.

New York Jets (10) @ Dallas Cowboys (30)

A nationally televised game of the week that was supposed to have Aaron Rodgers in his first road start saw Zach Wilson in his place instead. The Jets had a -0.43 EPA/play (2nd percentile) as they weren’t able to generate much on offense outside of one big Garrett Wilson play. What was particularly alarming was a 26.7% negative play rate, the worst mark of the season so far. Zach Wilson had a total of 3 interceptions and finished with a -13.2 total EPA. The Jets also only used Breece Hall, their most efficient running back this season, on 4 rushes and 2 targets.

On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys had a great showing against one of the NFL’s best defenses. Dak Prescott led all players in this game with a 17.5 total EPA generated as the Cowboys had a 0.40 EPA/pass (87th percentile). This comes despite having a pretty inefficient run game at -0.22 EPA/rush (24th percentile). CeeDee Lamb proved why he belongs in the conversation with some of the best receivers in the league going up against Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed for most of the game and having 12.8 total EPA generated. It’s early in the season, but the Cowboys already look like one of the NFL’s best teams

Miami Dolphins (24) @ New England Patriots (17)

Mike McDaniel, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and wide receivers Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill continued their success on Sunday night. The Dolphins finished with a 0.19 EPA/play (82nd percentile) and had above average performances in the pass and the run game. After being the most pass happy team in the league last week, McDaniel showed he can adjust when given three high safety looks, having a -2.9% pass rate over expected and getting a big run from Raheem Mostert to ice the game and justify the approach.

The Patriots offense was able to move the ball in chunks having a 52.9% success rate (87th percentile) but had no explosive element to beat the Dolphins over the top with a 2.9% explosive play rate (2nd percentile). The Patriots were slightly more efficient rushing than passing as some of the limitations they have in the passing game were shown against the Dolphins defense. Some crucial special teams plays by the Patriots kept them in this game longer than the final score will indicate, but the Dolphins have cemented themselves amongst the AFC elite through two games this season.

Top Performers of the Week

Using total EPA to determine the best performances, this week featured some stars we’d typically expect to see at the top, as well as some surprise players that could be in for a big year if the trend continues.

Quarterbacks

Vikings Quarterback Kirk Cousins was the star of the week (by a few decimals over Dak Prescott) with 17.5 total EPA generated on Thursday Night against the Eagles with 364 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Josh Allen and Daniel Jones both bounced back from the previous week finishing 2nd and 3rd in terms of total EPA generated this week. Some surprises include Joshua Dobbs and Baker Mayfield who are both still relatively new to their teams.

Rushers

The running backs also had a Thursday Night leader in D’Andre Swift with 175 yards and a 8.5 total rush EPA as the Eagles leaned on him heavily against the Vikings defense. Rookie Bijan Robinson showed off his explosiveness rushing for 6.5 yards per carry. Gus Edwards showed that with the infrastructure the Ravens have in place, he can rush effectively.

Pass Catchers

In a quieter week than last week for high end receiving performances, Texans’ receiver Nico Collins led the league in total EPA generated as he caught 7 of his 9 targets for 146 yards and 14.4 total EPA. Mike Evans reminded everyone what he can do at age 30 with 171 receiving yards, 79 of which came after the catch. T.J. Hockenson is the lone tight end to make it on the list with a 18.6% target share and 2 touchdowns. Devonta Smith is this week’s air yards leader as he had 131 yards on 123 air yards.

Both Justin Jefferson and Puka Nacua had standout performances from a counting stats perspective, but their production was just outside the top 10 from a total EPA perspective. Jefferson’s fumble near the goal line ended up being a 10-point swing in Vikings-Eagles and Nacua was targeted 20 times with 5 incompletions that brought down his EPA when targeted.

Updated Playoff Probability Graph

The simulation above was run before Monday Night Football and thus teams that played on Thursday or will play on Monday only show how their chances changed based on other results around the league. 

The two biggest risers of the week are the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens getting crucial wins over division rivals in convincing fashion. Not only are both of these teams 2-0, but their ratings have dynamically updated to prove that they are contenders in the very competitive AFC. 

While the New Orleans Saints haven’t played yet in Week 2, the Atlanta Falcons have passed them after starting 2-0 with a 64% chance to make the playoffs. The biggest fallers of this week were the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals. The Lions benefited from the rest of the NFC North losing as well, but their team rating is down due to the inability to sustain success after the win over the Chiefs in Week 1. The Bengals are off to another slow start and are a coin flip to make the playoffs as they are losing ground to both the Ravens and Browns in their division but also Wild Card hopefuls in the AFC.

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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