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 9’s excitement scores:
To no one’s surprise, Buccaneers-Texans not only came in as the most exciting game of the day but also the 2nd most exciting game of the season so far (behind Browns-Colts in Week 7). The game featured Tampa Bay entering the 4th quarter with a lead, Houston promptly taking the lead back, Tampa Bay tying the game at 30-30, Houston having emergency kicker Dare Ogunbowale kick a possible go ahead field goal to go up 33-30, and both Baker Mayfield and C.J. Stroud throwing touchdown passes with less than a minute remaining.
Happening at the same time was Vikings-Falcons, which was the 3rd most exciting game of the season. This isn’t even considering the fact that Joshua Dobbs, traded to Minnesota less than a week ago, was the Vikings quarterback for the majority of the game and had to get the plays translated to him. The Vikings were up 3 for most of the 4th quarter before a Tyler Allgeier touchdown run put the Falcons up by 4 with a little more than two minutes remaining. Then Dobbs led a game winning drive and threw the game winning touchdown pass to Brandon Powell with 22 seconds remaining.
Besides all the craziness, the Ravens, Browns, and Raiders took care of business in blowout wins.
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.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (37) @ Houston Texas (39)
Offensive fireworks were the theme of this game as the Texans pulled off the win behind a great C.J. Stroud’s performance. Stroud had 26.6 total EPA and a 95th percentile EPA/dropback. While Noah Brown led the way with 10.4 total EPA when targeted, Tank Dell had some big catches down the stretch and had 6.9 total EPA when targeted while Dalton Schultz also had a huge day with 9.1 EPA. The Texans weren’t able to run the ball well and only converted 40% of their late downs but since they were so efficient on early downs and avoided negative plays, they were able to sustain drives for most of the game.
Tampa Bay’s offense had a good game themselves and put their team in a position to win multiple times. They had a 0.36 EPA/pass and a -0.09 EPA/rush but leaned heavily on the run with a -8.1% pass rate over expected. Baker Mayfield finished with 12.5 total EPA and Mike Evans and Cade Otton both had big days. They even scored with 49 seconds remaining only for the Texans to promptly drive down the field and win the game with 5 seconds left.
Minnesota Vikings (31) @ Atlanta Falcons (28)
The advanced stats weren’t great from an offensive perspective in this game, but Joshua Dobbs also didn’t know the playbook or cadences and had to learn much of it on the fly. He put up 5.1 total EPA including a 59th percentile EPA/dropback (which was partially dragged down because of a safety right as he came into the game). The Vikings had a lot of trouble running the ball but had an 81st percentile explosive play rate and a 57th percentile late down success rate, which was enough to win.
As for the Falcons, in Taylor Heinicke’s first full time start this season, they had a 19th percentile EPA/play in large part due to a 13th percentile EPA/rush. Tyler Allgeier had 12 carries to Bijan Robinson’s 11 carries as they both finished with a negative EPA/rush. The Falcons leaned on their tight ends with both Jonnu Smith and Kyle Pitts having a positive EPA when targeted and the ability to convert on late downs to stay in the game.
Dallas Cowboys (23) @ Philadelphia Eagles (28)
This one lived up to expectations and then some with both offenses putting on a show for most of the game and the defenses making just enough big plays to limit scoring. The Eagles put out a 90th percentile EPA/play performance with Jalen Hurts leading the way with 17.4 total EPA generated (especially impressive considering his knee injury). The Eagles were able to pass on Dallas successfully with Dallas Goedert having a big game and Devonta Smith having a massive touchdown to open up the 2nd half. They also avoided negatives very well with Hurts only taking 2 sacks and having no turnovers. The late down success rate was obviously high as the tush push had a 100% success rate despite the Cowboys’ best efforts to stop it.
Dallas’ offense also put together a good performance on the road but was inches away from at least 8 more points on the scoreboard. Dak Prescott finished with 17.4 total EPA as the Cowboys leaned heavily on the pass with a +8.7% pass rate over expected. However, Dallas’ redzone struggles continued as they were a couple inches away from a touchdown on 4th & goal and a two point conversion that would have put them down 3 late in the game. The Cowboys should still feel bullish about their pass game as the Prescott to Lamb connection is still high end and secondary receivers like Jake Ferguson and Jalen Tolbert stepped up at times in this game.
Buffalo Bills (18) @ Cincinnati Bengals (24)
As if we didn’t need any more proof that the Bengals are all the way back, a big Sunday Night win cemented that they are once again among the AFC contenders. The Bengals leaned into the pass once again with a +18.2% pass rate over expected (99th percentile). They passed well with a 79th percentile EPA/pass as Joe Burrow had 13.9 total EPA and Tee Higgins had his biggest game since Week 2. After a big first half, the Bengals mostly played ball control in the second half including the final drive of the game where they were able to close it out.
The Bills offense had another good performance in a loss with a 60th percentile EPA/play and a 94th percentile success rate. However, the Bengals made sure to not allow explosives with the Bills only being able to have a 7.1% explosive play rate. The Bills also passed a lot with a +18% pass rate over expected and Stefon Diggs was the main beneficiary of it with 8.9 total EPA himself.
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.
As expected, C.J. Stroud’s 5 touchdown performance puts him at the top of the total EPA list for this week. Baker Mayfield, in the same game, also finished 5th.
Jalen Hurts and Dak Prescott, in their first head to head matchup since 2021, finished 2nd and 3rd respectively with Hurts having the highest EPA/play of any quarterback on the day.
There were also some young quarterbacks like Jordan Love, Aidan O’Connell, and Sam Howell who found themselves rounding out the top 10.
For the second week in a row, the Ravens have a running back leading the week in total EPA. This time it’s rookie Keaton Mitchell with 9 rushes for 138 yards and a 66.7% success rate while his teammate Gus Edwards finds himself in 3rd.
As usual, the Dolphins also get a running back on the list with Raheem Mostert having 12 carries for 85 yards against the Chiefs.
The top 3 leaders in total EPA when targeted and 4 of the top 6 were once all on the same Cowboys team: Amari Cooper, Noah Brown, Dalton Schultz, and CeeDee Lamb. Cooper had a huge day catching all 5 of his targets for 139 yards.
The Texans pass catchers also all had massive days with Brown, Schultz, and Dell all going over 100 yards.
Diontae Johnson also had a big game on Thursday Night with his first touchdown since 2021.
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 in Week 9 was the Vikings jumping 16% in their chance to make the playoffs with a big win over another Wild Card contender in the Falcons and showing that they can win without their starting quarterback. They currently sit in the 7 seed in the NFC.
The Bengals had another big rise as their win over the Bills puts them in the 7 seed in the AFC and gives them a higher chance to make the playoffs with the tiebreaker over Buffalo.
The Saints created some separation in the NFC South after getting a win over the Bears while the Falcons and Buccaneers lost.
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.