Weekend Review - Week 8

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

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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 postgame excitement index for each game of the NFL season. Here are Week 8’s excitement scores:

The most exciting game of the week was one that featured 24 total punts and the losing team having -8 passing yards. However, the Jets were able to roar back from having a 0.1% win probability with just over a minute to go to force overtime where they ended up winning. Also in the early slate, Texans-Panthers and Eagles-Commanders were exciting matchups with the Panthers kicking the game winning field goal as time expired.

Browns-Seahawks lived up to expectations with the Browns throwing a late tipped interception that set the Seahawks up for a game winning drive with less than a minute to go.

The teams that took care of business without much stress were the Chargers over the Bears and the Cowboys over the Rams.

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.

New York Jets (13) @ New York Giants (10)

The Giants went to overtime in this game despite having a 0th percentile success rate, 0th percentile EPA/pass, and 0th percentile pass rate over expected. They ended up throwing for -9 yards, which is tied for the lowest amount of non-scramble yards gained on dropbacks since the Browns in Week 14 of 2000. They were able to lean on Saquon Barkley for 36 carries as he ran for 128 yards. Tommy DeVito came in to replace an injured Tyrod Taylor and a Jets defense that was already dominating the Giants offense was able to turn it up a notch with the Giants on their third string quarterback.

The Jets had a 4th percentile EPA/play and a 5th percentile success rate but were able to do just enough, especially on the last drive of overtime and in regulation, to come out of this game with a win. The Jets game plan was to lean on the pass with a +2.6% pass rate over expected and they had a better EPA/pass than EPA/rush. Despite doing well on early downs to give them manageable late downs, they were only able to convert those late downs 3 out of 17 times. The Jets are now sitting at 4-3 and very much alive in the AFC playoff picture.

Philadelphia Eagles (38) @ Washington Commanders (31)

In another one of the most exciting games of the day, the Eagles dominated through the air to be able to complete the season sweep on the Commanders. The Eagles had a massive disparity between their passing and rushing efficiency having a 99th percentile EPA/pass and a 0th percentile EPA/rush. Jalen Hurts threw for 319 yards, 4 touchdowns, and had 24.2 total EPA on the day. A.J. Brown continues to make his case for Offensive Player of the Year with 21.2 total EPA after having 130 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Eagles being able to convert late downs at such a high rate was a big reason why they were able to score 38 points in this game. An interesting note about this game is the Eagles EPA/rush is so low partially thanks to a tush push fumble at the goalline, but they ended up closing the game out with a fake tush push, which was one of the better plays of the day.

The Commanders offense had an overall good day as well. They showed a good example of the Simpson’s Paradox having a 52nd percentile EPA/pass and a 43rd percentile EPA/rush but a 57th percentile EPA/play because they had a +17% pass rate over expected and were more efficient passing than rushing. The Commanders were able to be explosive for most of the game but weren’t good enough on late downs to keep up with the Eagles defense. Amid trade rumors, it might be an interesting week for the Commanders as they fall to 3-5 on the season.

Cleveland Browns (20) @ Seattle Seahawks (24)

This game lived up to expectations with lots of back and forth and a late game winning drive for the Seahawks to close out the Browns. The Seahawks finished with a 61st percentile EPA/play and success rate, in a large part due to scoring 17 points on their first three drives. Geno Smith struggled with two interceptions hurting the passing output, but the Seahawks were able to run well with an 81st percentile EPA/rush with both Zach Charbonnet and Kenneth Walker having a positive rushing EPA. Tyler Lockett also had a great day with 8 receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown and had the most receiving EPA of any pass catcher in this game.

The focus of the Browns may be the decision to pass on 3rd & 3 with 2:04 left on a play that turned into an interception, but the main focus should be on if the Browns offense can do just enough to win these games with their defense. The Browns offense today had a 42nd percentile EPA/play and a 38th percentile success rate. They were able to hit explosives on 12.2% of their plays and lean on the run game with Kareem Hunt. Despite being good on early downs, the late down success wasn’t enough for the Browns to end up pulling out this game in Seattle, going back to the most crucial late down that turned into a tipped pass interception.

Cincinnati Bengals (31) @ San Francisco 49ers (17)

The Bengals reminded everyone of what their ceiling looks like in this game by going into San Francisco and having a 90th percentile EPA/play and 94th percentile success rate. This was Joe Burrow’s best game of the season so far with 19.4 total EPA generated as the Bengals had an 81st percentile EPA/pass. The Bengals leaned on that strong passing game with a +11.2% pass rate over expected. They were both explosive and good at limiting negative plays, which was a large part of getting to 31 points.

The 49ers offense continues to struggle in their 3 game skid having a 37th percentile EPA/play despite having a 90th percentile success rate. This is due to a 12.5% negative play rate that included two interceptions and a fumble lost from Brock Purdy. After looking invincible after a 5-0 start, the 49ers have some questions to be answered sitting at 5-3.

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 have a lot of season left to continue those performances.

Quarterbacks

Jalen Hurts finished with the highest total EPA of the day, which is particularly impressive given the fumble he had at the goal line, but he passed so well that he was able to overcome it. Kirk Cousins also put together a great performance, but his achilles injury puts a somber mood on it.

Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert both performed well by taking what the defense gave them and having a low ADoT that led to a lot of yards after catch on the day.

Despite not playing the full game, Taylor Heinicke finds himself on this list as he took over for Desmond Ridder and made an argument to be Atlanta’s full-time starter.

Rushers

In a Ravens win, Gus Edwards led all running backs in total rushing EPA with 19 rushes for 80 yards and 3 touchdowns. Royce Freeman had the highest success rate of any rusher on the day at 77.8%.

The Colts continue to show they have a two headed backfield with Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss both having a positive EPA/rush.

Pass Catchers

A.J. Brown has now become the top pass catcher’s list most common contributor having another 100+ yard performance and catching all 8 of his targets for 16.2 total EPA.

Rashid Shaheed continues to be the best small sample size player in the league only getting 10% of his team’s targets but having 153 yards on the day.

CeeDee Lamb saw 41% of his team’s targets and was able to have the most yards after catch of any receiver on this list putting together 12.5 total EPA.

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 was the Cincinnati Bengals seeing a 17% rise in their chance of playing in the postseason as they now sit above 50%. Also in the AFC, the Jaguars continue to move towards wrapping up the AFC South. The Jets put themselves right back into the Wild Card race and sit at just over 40% to make the playoffs.

The biggest riser of the week in the NFC was the New Orleans Saints notching a win while the Falcons and Buccaneers lost. The Seahawks also saw a big jump in their playoff probability as they now sit as the leaders in the NFC West over the 49ers.

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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