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Week 1 Rundown 2013

Each week we 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.

Week 1 always provides great excitement in the NFL, and great overreactions in the media. Using advanced stats can help us separate meaningful surprise performances from flukey and lucky results. The biggest Week 1 takeaways include Colin Kaepernick taking a huge step forward as a passer for the 49ers, unknowns Terrelle Pryor and Geno Smith providing some promise for pulling their teams out of the NFL's basement, and the Eagles offense living up to the hype as a defensive coordinator's worst nighmare. An interesting subplot was the lack of the read option from teams like the 49ers, Redskins, and Seahawks that relied on it last season, while it still proved effective for others now running it including the Eagles and Raiders.

(0-1) Ravens 27 - 49 Broncos (1-0)
Offensive EPA: BAL (1.7) - (23.7) DEN
The Ravens were pretty averge in overall efficiency while on offense. Their run game was very poor (-4.2), but was offset by strong punting (4.0). Despite a blocked punt, Baltimore finished strong overall in punting thanks to 9 solid kicks and a Welker muff which they recovered. Flacco's 2 interceptions (-1.2) had a minimal impact partly because they came on a 3rd and 4th down, but more so because Danny Trevathan decided to drop the ball on his interception before the end zone, resulting in a touchback and actually a net 1.3 point gain on the play for the Ravens. The Broncos incredible performance on offense is entirely explained by their outstanding net passing (26.8), a mark better than any team put up in 2012 other than the Saints Week 16 performance (30.4) at the Cowboys. Despite the tough start, it is still too early to assume the Ravens defense will have a huge dropoff this season, as several top defenses in 2012 gave up occasional huge passing performances when facing elite quarterbacks.

(1-0) Patriots 23 - 21 Bills (0-1)
Offensive EPA: NE (-6.7) - (-8.7) BUF
The Patriots offense was slightly above average all around apart from 2 big fumbles - a 4th and goal at the 1 fumbled snap which lost about 3 points and a Ridley fumble which was returned 74 yards for a touchdown and cost the Pats about a net of 9 points in the game. Similarly, the Bills offense was about average apart from losing 2 fumbles themselves (-6.6). Because the Buffalo success came on flukey defensive plays and by limiting sacks and interceptions rather than moving the ball well on pass plays, the fact that they kept this game close is not really a positive sign going forward. The Patriots offense was less efficient in this game than all but one of their 2012 efforts, which is cause for some concern, but things should improve when Gronkowski returns.

(0-1) Bengals 21 - 24 Bears (1-0)
Offensive EPA: CIN (3.1) - (6.7) CHI
The Bengals suffered a tough defeat, but the stats are somewhat promising. Despite 2 costly interceptions (-7.8), Dalton was very good on non-INT, non-sack normal pass plays (17.7). The Bears also had a promising start, fueled by solid net passing (6.9), punting (1.5), and Gould hitting his only field goal attempt from 58 yards (2.0).

(1-0) Dolphins 23 - 10 Browns (0-1)
Offensive EPA: MIA (2.5) - (-10.5) CLE
This battle of teams that were trendy picks to take the next step did little to show much change from 2012. The Dolphins net passing (6.0) was good, but their terrible rushing effort (-7.2) meant they needed impressive field goals (3.0) and punting (2.0) to stay above average in overall offense. The Browns picked up mostly where they left off in 2012, with 3 interceptions (-7.6) and 6 sacks (-5.4) to add to their already subpar normal pass plays (7.0). The Dolphins retain some playoff hopes this season, while it may not be too early to already give up on the Browns in 2013.

(0-1) Vikings 24 - 34 Lions (1-0)
Offensive EPA: MIN (-2.0) - (8.0) DET
Our stats showed that the Lions were likely to overtake the Vikings in the division this season, and this game is further evidence. We expected Minnesota to take a substantial step back in 2013, and Ponder's 3 interceptions (-8.1) were a bad sign, but his solid play on normal pass plays (13.5) leaves some hope. The Lions had a great game offensively thanks to very good net passing (14.1), in spite of a fumbled snap on a field goal attempt (-3.5) and a Pettigrew lost fumble (-1.9). Whether the Lions make the playoffs will likely depend on if they can produce great passing performances like this often like in 2011 or only occasionally like in 2012.

(0-1) Raiders 17 - 21 Colts (1-0)
Offensive EPA: OAK (6.3) - (10.3) IND
This game wasn't especially high scoring, but both offenses were very effective. Terrelle Pryor was surprisingly successful both on called runs and scrambles. The Raiders more than overcame their 2 interceptions (-3.9) with above average normal called pass plays (14.8), while also posting the 2nd best mark of the week on called run plays (3.6) in a Week 1 where run games generally struggled. Combined with Week 17 last season, Pryor has now produced 2 solid games as an NFL starter. Oakland's season will mostly rest in his hands, and if he continues his success they could actually entertain playoff hopes this year. Andrew Luck and the Colts started the season strong as well with a great net passing mark (11.6) despite suffering 4 sacks (-5.7).

(1-0) Titans 16 - 9 Steelers (0-1)
Offensive EPA: TEN (-0.2) - (-9.2) PIT
The Titans pulled off a surprise win, but the stats still don't show much reason for hope going forward. Their success came in areas that are unlikely to continue like punting (2.3), field goals (1.2), and forcing a fumble, while their normal pass plays (3.1) failed to move the ball. The Steelers were below average in most areas, including net passing (1.4) and rushing (-3.5), and lost a key fumble (-4.4) near the goal line. It was an ugly home loss to a poor opponent for Pittsburgh, but it is probably too early to write off the Steelers.

(1-0) Chiefs 28 - 2 Jaguars (0-1)
Offensive EPA: KC (-0.2) - (-26.2) JAC
The Andy Reid, Alex Smith, and Chiefs bandwagon is filling up following a hype-filled offseason and the Week 1 blowout, but really all Kansas City did in this game was run the ball reasonably well (2.5), avoid negative plays, and let the Jaguars beat themselves. While the defensive effort was promising, the Chiefs underwhelming normal pass plays (1.9) are cause for concern. With the likes of Terrelle Pryor, Geno Smith, and E.J. Manuel having decent showings, the Jaguars have already solidified their place as front runners for the 1st pick in the 2014 draft. Their net passing (-20.3) was worse than all but 1 showing by any NFL team in 2012. Perhaps even worse though is the black eye the Jags have given advanced NFL analytics over the offseason. Multiple articles have claimed that Jacksonville was at the forefront of statistical analysis because they supposedly decided to stick with Gabbert and draft offensive line help based on illogically picking and choosing stats that seemed to imply that Gabbert wasn't completely terrible on plays where he had more time to pass. In reality, the true advanced stats like ours have always shown Gabbert to be constantly competing for worst QB in the league. With Gabbert injured yet again, the Jags could again see a slight improvement under Chad Henne, but are still in deep trouble.

(0-1) Falcons 17 - 23 Saints (1-0)
Offensive EPA: ATL (0.8) - (6.8) NO
The Falcons offense looks very effective in the standard box score, but their struggles on important 3rd downs led to surprisingly mediocre marks in our EPA stats. Atlanta should be fine going forward, but this game justifies our preseason analysis suggesting the Saints had a good shot to regain control of the division and be Super Bowl contenders. Though the Saints rushing (-4.4) was poor, their net passing (12.6) was dominant.

(0-1) Buccaneers 17 - 18 Jets (1-0)
Offensive EPA: TB (-5.0) - (-3.6) NYJ
The Bucs were pretty average on offense apart from having a very poor rushing attack (-4.9). Overall, the Jets offense was a little below average in effectiveness, with poor running (-5.5) and 5 sacks (-10.6) including a lost fumble which offset a strong performance on normal pass plays (15.8). However, with normal pass plays generally being the most consistent category, this game provides New York hope that Geno Smith could propel the Jets out of the bottom tier of the league.

(1-0) Seahawks 12 - 7 Panthers (0-1)
Offensive EPA: SEA (5.4) - (0.4) CAR
The scoreline may suggest an ugly game, but this is a classic example of how 2 solid offenses can actually produce a low scoring game by never giving up good field position to each other. The Seahawks had success in net passing (7.4) but ran poorly (-3.0). What put them above average was punting (4.6) thanks to recovering a fumbled return. The Panthers offense was average overall, gaining ground in net passing (4.9) by avoiding negative plays, but losing that advantage on turnovers (-3.0) due to a late game-changing fumble lost by DeAngelo Williams in the red zone. This game doesn't necessarily change expectations for either team, but unspectacular normal pass plays for both teams is some evidence that they may not take the next step this year.

(0-1) Cardinals 24 - 27 Rams (1-0)
Offensive EPA: ARI (0.6) - (3.6) STL
The Cardinals were great on normal pass plays (18.0) but offset that with a costly interception (-4.3), 4 sacks (-6.1) including a fumble lost, and poor marks on rushing (-2.6) and kickoff returns (-3.7). The Rams were solid in net passing (6.8) and field goals (2.6) but struggled rushing (-4.0). Overall, the stats were promising for both teams, and the ability Arizona showed to move the ball through the air on the road means we still like their chances better than St. Louis.

(0-1) Packers 28 - 34 49ers (1-0)
Offensive EPA: GB (4.3) - (13.2) SF
The Packers were very good in net passing (15.1), but struggled in other areas like kickoff returns (-3.9) and turnovers (-3.3) due to an Eddie Lacy fumble lost. Kaepernick and the 49ers were even better in net passing (25.7), but were terrible on called runs (-7.0). Though the Packers lose a big game, the stats are a positive sign for both teams. Whether this game is an indication of the pecking order at the top of the NFC will depend on if Kaepernick's big game is a sign of things to come or if he will instead put up numbers more like his 2012 season going forward.

(0-1) Giants 31 - 36 Cowboys (1-0)
Offensive EPA: NYG (-6.4) - (-1.7) DAL
The inverse of the Seattle-Carolina game, this matchup was a display of how poor offenses can produce a high scoring game if they help each other out with turnovers. The Giants were very good on normal pass plays (28.2) but somehow managed to more than offset that with 3 interceptions (-14.6) including a pick-6, 3 costly sacks (-4.5), and a combination of poor rushing and 2 fumbles lost that cost them about 12 more points. The Cowboys were below average on offense, fueled by an interception (-8.3) with a huge return of their own. The only thing keeping the Cowboys offensive mark near average was their solid punting (5.8), partially thanks to recovering a muffed return. While their turnovers were more impactful on this game than the successful normal pass plays for the Giants, the passing is much more likely to be the thing that repeats in the future, and the Giants actually come out of this game with a more favorable outlook than the Cowboys based on how the stats project future results.

(1-0) Eagles 33 - 27 Redskins (0-1)
Offensive EPA: PHI (-0.9) - (-5.6) WAS
This was another poor offensive game that resulted in a high score due to turnovers. However, apart from about an 11 point loss on a flukey backward pass returned for a touchdown, the Eagles offense was very good. Their net passing (5.5) was solid due to avoiding interceptions, and they were the only team in Week 1 to be dominant on called rushes (10.8). The tempo of Chip Kelly's offense gets all the attention, but the key seems to really be spreading slot receivers out wide to have a constant wide receiver screen threat. Depending on how the defense plays, Philadelphia can then either throw a bunch of screens or have more room in the middle for read-option runs like in this game. Following a slow start for RGIII, the Redskins put together a decent net passing performance (6.4), but stuggled with kickoff returns (-3.1), a missed field goal (-2.4), turnovers (-5.2) from an Alfred Morris fumble and failed late 4th down conversion, and lost another couple of points on a fumbled pitch on a run play resulting in a safety. The Redskins should get over their flukey mistakes and look more like the 2012 squad going forward, while it's hard to project the Eagles fortunes, which will depend on whether defenses can figure out Chip Kelly's offense.

(1-0) Texans 31 - 28 Chargers (0-1)
Offensive EPA: HOU (8.1) - (5.1) SD
The Texans were effective on offense mostly thanks to strong net passing (9.7). The Chargers put up similar numbers, overcoming a pick-6 (-6.3) to maintain strong net passing overall (7.9). San Diego can take comfort in the fact that the league said the refs errored in calling a roughing the long snapper penalty which allowed Houston to turn a field goal into a touchdown (a difference of 1 point more than the margin of defeat), and also in the fact that with better pass protection, their pass game shows signs of rebounding to pre-2012 form, which would put them solidly in the competition for a playoff spot.

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