Weekend Review - Week 4

by Tej Seth|October 2, 2023

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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.

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 post-game excitement index for each game of the NFL season. Here are Week 4’s excitement scores:

This week had an exciting early slate with multiple games coming down to the final possession of the game. Commanders-Eagles saw a Sam Howell to Jahan Dotson touchdown as time expired to send the game to overtime where the Eagles ultimately won on a Jake Elliott field goal.

At the same time, the Broncos roared back from down 28-7 with a 39% win probability swing in their direction when Jonathan Cooper returned a Justin Fields fumble for a touchdown to tie the game. Wil Lutz later made a 51-yard go ahead field goal for Denver to get their first win of the season.

Also happening in the early window was the Colts scoring 23 unanswered points after going down 23-0 only for Matthew Stafford to lead a game winning drive on the first possession in overtime as he hit rising rookie Puka Nacua for the game winning strike.

While most of the afternoon games were not as exciting, Sunday Night Football saw a surprising game with the Jets climbing back from down 17-0 at the end of the first quarter to tie the game 20-20 before ultimately dropping to the Chiefs.

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.

Miami Dolphins (20) @ Buffalo Bills (48) 

The two biggest stories of NFL Week 4 both involved New York teams and Josh Allen had the spotlight with his performance. The Bills had a 99th percentile EPA/play performance on offense including a 100th percentile performance passing the ball. They were particularly impressive on early downs with only 9 of their 54 plays occurring on late downs. The Allen to Diggs connection was unstoppable as Stefon Diggs had 16.3 total EPA on the day.

On the other side of the ball, we saw the first negative EPA/play from the Dolphins on the season so far. While their 66th percentile success rate showed they were able to stay on track for most of the game, it was the 10.2% negative play rate that hurt them as a Tua Tagovailoa interception and Raheem Mostert fumble sandwiching halftime helped the game get out of hand for them. 

The silver lining for the Dolphins is it is already clear they have found something in rookie speedster De’Von Achane as he had 7.7 total EPA on 14 rushes and targets in this game. With both of these teams sitting at 3-1, the Bills have now moved back to favorites to win the AFC East.

Washington Commanders (31) @ Philadelphia Eagles (34)

After a loss to the Bills, the Commanders bounced back in a big way taking the defending NFC champions to overtime on the road. With a 88th percentile EPA/play, the Commanders offense led by Sam Howell played well against an Eagles defense that had been stout coming into this game. The Commanders were particularly good at avoiding negative plays at a 5.4% rate (89th percentile) and converted on 60% of their late downs (83rd percentile). As time expired, the Commanders scored a touchdown to go down 31-30 as Ron Rivera made the decision to kick the extra point to send the game to overtime instead of going for two and the win.

The Eagles pass offense found more footing this week with a 77th percentile EPA/pass. The Jalen Hurts to A.J. Brown connection was back in a big way with Brown having 13.3 total EPA on 14 targets. The Eagles were also very good at avoiding negative plays as they drove for the win in overtime. The Eagles move to 4-0 and continue to be the favorites to win the NFC East.

Los Angeles Rams (29) @ Indianapolis Colts (23)

For those who read the Week 4 Weekend Preview, Rams-Colts was highlighted as the 2nd most watchable game of the weekend, and it delivered. The Rams put together a great day passing as the legend of Puka Nacua continued to grow with 12.3 total EPA on the day and the game winning touchdown. Despite a 44th percentile EPA/play on early downs, the Rams converted 53% of their late downs and were able to avoid negative plays for the most part outside of one Matthew Stafford interception.

The Colts started slow but climbed back into the game in the 4th quarter led by Anthony Richardson. Indianapolis had an 80th percentile EPA/pass day as Alec Ogletree was the leading pass catcher with 48 yards and a touchdown. What was particularly interesting was the Colts’ pass rate over expected at -20.2% as we typically see teams pass heavily when they are down big.

New York Jets (20) @ Kansas City Chiefs (23)

While it won’t show up in the stats because of a late game fumble, Zach Wilson played the best game of his career and almost pulled off the upset against the defending Super Bowl Champions. The Jets were middle of the pack in EPA/play, yet relied on a 68th percentile explosive play rate to move the ball down the field. Zach Wilson led a 55th percentile EPA/dropback as Breece Hall was able to remain efficient as a rusher and pass catcher.

It wasn’t the prettiest game for Patrick Mahomes either, but even in their off days, the Chiefs are still able to have a 75th percentile EPA/play. While the passing and early down efficiency wasn’t at the levels we are used to from the Chiefs, they were able to still hit on explosive plays and convert enough late downs to win. Isiah Pacheco was particularly impressive in this win with a big touchdown run as Mahomes was also able to scramble enough himself.

Top Performers of the Week

Using total EPA to determine the best performances, this week featured some stars we have come to expect to see at the top as well as some surprise players.

Quarterbacks

Brock Purdy and Josh Allen top the EPA board as they combined for 4 incompletions and 5 passing touchdowns on the day. Sam Howell and Jalen Hurts also see themselves in the top 6 after facing off head-to-head. C.J. Stroud continues to impress during his rookie season throwing for over 300 yards yet again. After a couple weeks of some bad variance, Trevor Lawrence has now returned to the top 10 as well.

Rushers

De’Von Achane had yet another week where he topped the rushing EPA leaderboard with 12.6 yards per carry and a 62.5% success rate. David Montgomery comes off a massive Thursday Night performance with 3 touchdowns. Bijan Robinson continues to put together a very good rookie season with 7.5 yards per carry in London. Christian McCaffrey put together a 3 touchdown performance and sees himself in the top 5.

Pass Catchers

While they were unexpected at the beginning of the season, we have started to see familiar faces like Puka Nacua and Nico Collins on this list weekly. Nacua brought in 9 of his 10 targets for 163 yards and the game winning touchdown. Collins dominated after the catch with the most YAC of any receiver this week. A.J. Brown brought in a massive 38% target share and caught 9 of his 13 targets for 175 yards. Mark Andrews is the lone tight end in the top 10 after scoring two touchdowns on the day.

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 biggest riser of the week is the Detroit Lions who beat the Packers but also had their team strength dynamically updated to be the 4th best team in the NFC. The Ravens also had a big rise, beating the Browns and separating themselves in the AFC North division race while also seeing the Bengals and Steelers lose. The Chargers also continue to rise after their 0-2 start and now sit at 2-2 in an AFC wild card race that hasn’t been as competitive as previously thought.

The NFC South race continued to become tighter as the Saints fell to the Buccaneers. There is a similar story with the AFC South as all four teams sit at 2-2.

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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