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Week 1 Rundown 2012

The 2012 NFL season arrived with some unexpectedly high scores from surprise teams, several interception-ridden games, and a big statement by rookie Robert Griffin III. Each week we will rundown every game using our advanced play-by-play statistics to examine exactly how each game was won and what it means going forward. Our expected points added (EPA) analysis assigns a net point value gained or lost to every single play so we can see exactly on which types of plays teams excelled or failed, and ultimately where games were won. The EPA while each team was on offense gives a more representative measure of offensive efficiency than real life score by separating offensive success from advantages gained or lost by defensive stops, takeaways, and scores. View our complete stats for every play type each week on the Games page.

(1-0) Cowboys 24 - 17 Giants (0-1)
Offensive EPA: DAL (8.8) - (1.8) NYG
This was a classic case of a game being won by a dominant passing game by one team overwhelming other aspects of the game. The Cowboys success on normal pass plays (21.5) more than offset a costly Romo interception (-5.9) and multiple pre-snap penalties (-3.4), while a solid rushing game (2.1) helped some as well. The Giants were only able to manage somewhat positive results on offense, which combined with a David Wilson fumble (-3.7), left their overall offensive performance as about average. It was an important divisional upset for the Cowboys on the road, but the stats were not very out of the ordinary, and should not sway opinions heavily this early in the season.

(0-1) Colts 21 - 41 Bears (1-0)
Offensive EPA: IND (-10.0) - (10.0) CHI
The good news for the Colts is that Andrew Luck was very efficient on normal pass plays (14.2) when not throwing interceptions (-9.9) or being sacked (-5.0). What took the total offensive EPA much below average was really a lost fumble on a kickoff return by LaVon Brazill and a missed 37-yard field goal by Vinatieri. The positives should be more consistent going forward than the negatives based on league-wide play type trends, so the Colts should be alright despite the bad loss. The Bears offense and pass game in particular were about as successful as any game in 2011, which is a positive sign that the addition of Brandon Marshall could finally take the offense over the hump.

(1-0) Eagles 17 - 16 Browns (0-1)
Offensive EPA: PHI (-15.4) - (-16.4) CLE
This game saw a combined offensive ineptitude that ranks among the very worst few games from all of last season. The Eagles decent passing on normal pass plays (11.3) was not nearly enough to overcome Vick's 4 interceptions (-16.8) and a LeSean McCoy lost fumble (-3.8). But the Browns were even worse on offense. Weeden's 4 interceptions (-8.4) were not nearly as costly, but the Browns were also terrible on run plays (-3.0) and normal pass plays (-6.0). There was only 1 performance worse than that normal pass play mark from all of last season (NYJ Wk 4 @ BAL). With that play type being the most consistent of any, things are not looking up for Weeden and the Browns.

(0-1) Rams 23 - 27 Lions (1-0)
Offensive EPA: STL (-4.6) - (1.2) DET
The Rams offense performed about as expected based off our 2011 ratings. And since they were our lowest rated offense a year ago, that is not promosing news. The Lions did just enough to manage a very rare win with a -3 turnover differential. Matt Stafford threw 3 very costly intereceptions (-18.8) that would have ranked in 2011 as the 4th most costly set of interceptions in a game. But the Lions still managed an average overall offensive performance because they were very efficient on normal pass plays (18.1) and had success in the run game (2.6). Stafford did have a couple of rough multiple interception games last season, so Lions fans can rest assured that the positives will outweight the negatives in the long term.

(0-1) Dolphins 10 - 30 Texans (1-0)
Offensive EPA: MIA (-22.6) - (-2.6) HOU
The Dolphins combined 3 interceptions (-12.1), subpar normal pass plays (3.7), and a Daniel Thomas fumble lost to put forth the worst offensive performance of the week. Like Brandon Weeden, the normal passes number is the most alarming sign of future trouble for rookie QB Ryan Tannehill. The 30 points scored by the Texans were inflated by the Dolphin interceptions. Houston actually put up a surprise clunker in the run game (-4.2), and the offensive EPA value was brought down by good Miami punt returning. Otherwise, the Texans were great while passing, which is the most important thing going forward.

(1-0) Falcons 40 - 24 Chiefs (0-1)
Offensive EPA: ATL (20.8) - (4.8) KC
The Falcons were the most successful offensive of the week on the heels of the most efficient pass offense, despite a lack of success running (-3.4). The performance was slightly better than any of their's in 2011, but doesn't immediately mean they will be significantly better this season with the same personnel. The Chiefs got manhandled, but can claim a few positive takeaways on the offensive side. Apart from the trouble with interceptions (-6.0) and sacks (-5.2), they managed a positive overall tally with good marks in the more reliable normal pass plays (16.5) and run (2.2) categories.

(1-0) Redskins 40 - 32 Saints (0-1)
Offensive EPA: WAS (9.9) - (2.8) NO
The Redskins overall offense was very good, but not quite worthy of 40 points. The run game was ineffective (-4.3) and the offense lost points in various other play types. However, the pass game under rookie QB Robert Griffin III was sensational. Washington was more effective in pass plays than in any of their 2011 games, and Griffin's debut was even more impressive than that of Cam Newton a year ago based on our stats. It's a small sample size, but the Redskins excelled in the most reliable play type, and that makes the already competitive NFC East a whole lot more interesting. The Saints had positive overall results on offense, but not up to the standard of their 2011 season. They struggled with 2 interceptions (-5.8) and a Marques Colston fumble (-2.9), but were still very effective on normal pass plays (17.0), meaning it is too early to drop them from elite status.

(1-0) Patriots 34 - 13 Titans (0-1)
Offensive EPA: NE (13.2) - (-7.8) TEN
The Patriots pass offensive was efficient as usual, but the real story of the game was the rushing attacks. The Patriots often under the radar run game which was #5 in our ratings from 2011 was even more effective (5.1), while the 2011 last rated Titans run game was even worse (-6.9). The Titans gave up a sack-fumble, but their normal pass plays were reasonably successful (11.4), so there is hope for Jake Locker and the team in general.

(0-1) Jaguars 23 - 26 Vikings (1-0)
Offensive EPA: JAC (5.6) - (7.2) MIN
Both offenses here were efficient but not amazing. Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars actually put together a better pass offense than they did all of last season thanks to mediocre normal pass plays (10.5), no interceptions, and just a couple sacks. The Vikings pass game was not great, but they produced in the run game (2.2) and special teams. Both squads are improving, but still have a ways to go.

(0-1) Bills 28 - 48 Jets (1-0)
Offensive EPA: BUF (-3.7) - (15.8) NYJ
The Bills were actually very efficient on offense in normal pass plays (15.0) and running (6.9), but 3 interceptions (-13.0) and giving up a TD on a punt were enough to cancel that out. Meanwhile the Jets surprised with by far a better passing effort than they had all of last season. The success on normal pass plays for both teams bodes well for the future, but we are just 1 game into the season.

(0-1) Seahawks 16 - 20 Cardinals (1-0)
Offensive EPA: SEA (-7.5) - (-3.5) ARI
The main story here could be that both teams may have started the wrong guy at quarterback. The Seahawks pass offense under rookie QB Russell Wilson was subpar on normal pass plays (6.3), but overall was average because no interceptions were thrown. However, a costly fumbled snap (-4.2) and bad run game (-2.3) resulted in a bad overall offensive performance for Seattle. The Cardinals pass offense was decent, and improved significantly after Kolb replaced Skelton due to injury. But the run game (-2.3) and a Ryan Williams fumble (-3.3) were costly. At the end of the day, neither team was quite up to par overall, and the below average marks in normal pass plays for both teams are alarming.

(1-0) 49ers 30 - 22 Packers (0-1)
Offensive EPA: SF (10.2) - (1.2) GB
The 49ers won this game not only with defense but with offense, which was new and is promising. Their overall pass game and the run game (6.8) were equivalent to some of their best all last season. The Packers pass game was worse than any game last season but the playoff loss, but was still better than the league average. These results were surprising, but are not enough to assume the 49ers are now the better team and favorites in the NFC as the media is suggesting.

(0-1) Panthers 10 - 16 Buccaneers (1-0)
Offensive EPA: CAR (-6.3) - (-0.3) TB
Cam Newton is getting some heat, but the Panthers pass game was not far from their 2011 ratings in this game. The real trouble for Carolina was their 2011 top rated run game being shut down (-6.1) worse than any game last season. The Buccaneers overall offense was neutral, but the lack of success on normal pass plays (4.5) is alarming going forward. Considering this was just 1 game in Tampa Bay and the Panthers edge on normal passing plays, Carolina should still be considered the better of these 2 teams, and both should still be accurately measured by their 2011 ratings.

(0-1) Steelers 19 - 31 Broncos (1-0)
Offensive EPA: PIT (-4.3) - (8.3) DEN
The extremely costly pick-six (-7.1) and 5 sacks (-8.1) against Roethlisberger really hurt the Steelers offense, but the good mark on normal pass plays (14.9) shows they should still be alright moving forward. The debut from Peyton Manning of no interceptions and success on normal pass plays (18.7) means it took him just 1 game to match the best performance by Tim Tebow all last season. Both teams ought to be in the AFC playoff picture.

(0-1) Bengals 13 - 44 Ravens (1-0)
Offensive EPA: CIN (-9.7) - (21.3) BAL
Andy Dalton and the Bengals put forth a passing attack worse than any from their last season on the heels of a costly pick-six (-5.8), 4 sacks (-8.8) including a sack-fumble despite Terrell Suggs being out for the Ravens, and bad normal pass plays (1.4). A great job on the ground (6.9) was not nearly enough to make up for the pass troubles. The Ravens offense was dominant in all facets, with an overall pass game and run game (5.4) about as successful as ever last year. Neither team had a 2011 rating as good as their 2011 record, but at the moment at least these teams appear headed in different directions, especially based on their marks on normal pass plays.

(1-0) Chargers 22 - 14 Raiders (0-1)
Offensive EPA: SD (3.1) - (-4.2) OAK
If a game has ever been decided by an injury to a long snapper, this was it. The Chargers were solid through the air but bad on the ground (-5.5). The Raiders were great passing the ball, but were undone by 3 failed punt attempts after long snapper Jon Condo left the game injured, together costing the Raiders about 7.5 net points. First, the ball was snapped on the ground while letting a free rusher through. Then, the ball was snapped fine but they let the same exact rusher through who blocked the punt. Finally, a third attempt was snapped on the ground. Going forward, these plays will not affect our ratings much, and both teams come out of this game with decent stats looking ahead.

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