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Week 11 Rundown 2012

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 11 of the NFL season was defined by backup quarterbacks and favorites almost all winning despite several close calls and overtime games on possible major upsets. Several quarterback positions remain unsettled heading into next week, not only from injuries but also a number of benchings. The biggest shifts of power in our playoff projections occured in the North divisions, with an expected boost to the Ravens chances from the injury to Ben Roethlisberger, and the Packers taking over as strong favorites in the NFC North with some help from the injury to Jay Cutler. With those shifts and the Cowboys gaining ground during the Giants bye week, the NFC East becomes the most hotly contested divisional race, and the only one where no single team has greater than a 50% chance of winning.

(4-6) Dolphins 14 - 19 Bills (4-6)
Offensive EPA: MIA (-7.6) - (-2.6) BUF
The Dolphins were again poor on normal pass plays (2.7) in this game. They also struggled on runs (-4.4), a Brian Hartline fumble lost (-2.7), and punting (-3.3) due to a return touchdown. Their main successes came on kickoff returns (5.4) because of a return touchdown of their own, and pre-snap penalties (2.8) from a number of timely Buffalo neutral zone infractions. An untrained look at the standard box score would say that the Bills had more success rushing than passing, but in fact the opposite is true. Their normal pass plays (8.6) were slightly below league average, but avoiding interceptions made the pass game solid overall. The run game (-4.5) had decent yardage totals, but it took so many carries that overall it was inefficient. Buffalo also lost a few points in our end of half category (-4.5) because they had to kick a field goal while running out of time in the 1st half at the Miami goal line.

(4-6) Jets 27 - 13 Rams (3-6-1)
Offensive EPA: NYJ (-0.6) - (-12.8) STL
The Jets were slightly better than league average in net passing (6.2) by avoiding interceptions, and had slight losses in other categories to finish about average on offense. Coming off their best game, the Rams net pass offense (-7.8) was among their worst performances. The run game had some success (2.6), but 2 fumbles lost and a couple late failed 4th down conversions together (-6.9) were costly.

(7-3) Packers 24 - 20 Lions (4-6)
Offensive EPA: GB (-4.7) - (-8.7) DET
The Packers win again, but the pass game was only about league average, and hasn't been overly impressive for 3 straight games now. Minor losses in several other categories lowered the overall offense to somewhat below average. With the win and Bears loss, the Packers jump from about a tossup to solid favorites in the NFC North. The Lions were solid on normal pass plays (11.3), but were undone by 2 interceptions (-12.0) including a long pick-6, and 5 sacks (-6.9) including a fumble lost. Their run game was positive (1.6) but a Calvin Johnson fumble (-2.1) also hindered them.

(4-6) Cardinals 19 - 23 Falcons (9-1)
Offensive EPA: ARI (-17.0) - (-13.0) ATL
The Cardinals normal pass plays (-9.2) under both John Skelton, and after he was benched, rookie Ryan Lindley, was the 2nd worst mark by any team this season. Add to that 3 sacks (-8.7) including a fumble returned for a touchdown, and the overall pass offense was terrible as well. The Falcons picked a good week to have their worst overall passing game. Their 5 interceptions (-18.7) were among the costliest set of picks for any team this season. Atlanta's normal pass plays (11.3) were also barely their team low for the season, but still about league average. The Falcons also had poor rushing (-2.5) yet again, and lost a Jason Snelling fumble (-2.7), but still did just enough for the win. As we have seen with Peyton Manning and as our model corroborates, interceptions can be flukier than a real poor performance on normal pass plays, so the rough game for the Falcons is not too alarming.

(1-9) Jaguars 37 - 43 Texans (9-1)
Offensive EPA: JAC (9.7) - (14.9) HOU
With Blaine Gabbert being injured for the 3rd time in the last 5 games, this time very early in the game, perhaps it's no coincidence that the Jaguars had their best passing game of the season with Chad Henne. Their normal pass plays (21.8) were very good, and they threw no interceptions. They had 2 sacks (-3.9) including a fumble lost while Gabbert was still in. Despite all this, Henne's stats with the Dolphins have shown that he is an inconsistent QB who will have some great games and some terrible ones, with an average somewhere a little below league average. So the Jaugars offense may improve some under Henne, but likely not too much. Their run game (-5.1) did still struggle. The Texans usually solid defense was disappointing, but their offense was great. In fact, their normal pass plays (32.3) mark was the best from any team this season. Houston did throw 2 interceptions (-7.4) and lost an Arian Foster fumble (-3.4), but otherwise the run game (3.3) was good.

(5-5) Bengals 28 - 6 Chiefs (1-9)
Offensive EPA: CIN (15.4) - (-6.2) KC
The Bengals net pass offense (12.8) was very good again, and the run game (3.3) also had success. With help from the Colts and Steelers losing, the Bengals playoff hopes increase significantly from 11% to 27%. The Chiefs started Matt Cassel at QB and then benched him in favor of Brady Quinn at halftime. They performed about equally, with neither looking terrible in the standard box score, but the Chiefs normal pass plays (-0.5) were bad using our metrics due to 3rd down struggles. A positive was avoiding interceptions, but the overall pass game was still poor. The combination of a Peyton Hillis fumble and a failed 4th down conversion (-5.5) further set them back. Kansas City has been slightly better with Cassel at QB, but it appears they will roll with Quinn for now.

(3-7) Eagles 6 - 31 Redskins (4-6)
Offensive EPA: PHI (-15.8) - (9.2) WAS
With rookie Nick Foles at the helm, the Eagles pass offense was about as bad as it has been in any game this year. Their normal pass plays (5.6) were subpar, while 2 interceptions (-6.4) and 4 sacks (-5.0) were also below average. Their rushing (-3.4) was also poor, and a LeSean McCoy fumble lost and a late failed 4th down conversion together (-5.5) added to the problems. Despite all the struggles of late, the Eagles have faced a brutal schedule and are still a decent team with Vick. The Redskins total net passing (18.5) was very good, and much more than enough to offset a rare poor rushing effort (-2.9). The Redskins essentially inherited what little playoff hopes the Eagles had left, and still have a chance to make the playoffs by winning the division.

(6-4) Buccaneers 27 - 21 Panthers (2-8)
Offensive EPA: TB (2.2) - (-3.3) CAR
The Buccaneers normal pass plays (13.1) were good again, but this week they threw 2 interceptions (-11.4) including a long pick-6. A Doug Martin fumble lost (-3.3) also set them back some, but they made up ground on field goals (2.3) and punts (4.0) by recovering a fumbled return. The Bucs playoff chances continue to increase, and they now make the playoffs in 1/3 of our simulations. The Panthers avoided interceptions for a good net passing mark (9.3), but struggled in the run game (-5.0) and on field goals (-2.4).

(2-8) Browns 20 - 23 Cowboys (5-5)
Offensive EPA: CLE (-0.6) - (1.8) DAL
The Browns net pass game (6.4) was solid, but the run game (-3.1) was poor. The Cowboys normal pass plays (17.8) were very good, but they suffered 7 sacks (-10.5) including a fumble lost. Dallas also struggled to run the ball (-2.9). The Cowboys inch closer and closer to favorites in the NFC East, just a game behind now and with an easier schedule ahead.

(5-5) Saints 38 - 17 Raiders (3-7)
Offensive EPA: NO (16.3) - (-3.6) OAK
The Saints were extremely efficient on offense yet again, with great net passing (15.6) while entirely avoiding sacks or interceptions, and solid rushing (2.3). Their playoff chances continue to rise slightly to 25%, the result of a good rating but tough remaining schedule. The Raiders were good on normal pass plays (13.9), but 2 interceptions (-10.6) including a pick-6 offset the success.

(4-6) Chargers 23 - 30 Broncos (7-3)
Offensive EPA: SD (-13.9) - (-5.5) DEN
This was a misleading scoreline, as neither offense was very effective and many points were generated off of turnovers. The Chargers net passing (-5.0) was poor, with struggles in all 3 passing categories. Their rushing (-6.4) was also miserable. The Broncos net passing (-0.9) was subpar as well mostly due to a pick-6 (-6.9). Denver also lost points on a Lance Ball fumble lost (-2.7). The AFC West division race could have been made somewhat interesting had the Chargers won this game, but now is over. San Diego however still retains a 20% chance of acquring a wild card spot due to Colts and Steelers losses.

(6-4) Colts 24 - 59 Patriots (7-3)
Offensive EPA: IND (-12.0) - (23.0) NE
The Colts were very good on normal pass plays (18.9), but 3 interceptions (-20.3) including 2 returned for touchdowns were the 2nd most costly set for any team this season. Indianapolis also received a low mark on punts (-6.5) because one was returned for a touchdown as well. As a result, the Colts drop a little to just over even odds of making the playoffs. The Patriots scored the most points all season, but because of the defensive and special teams plays, the actual offensive effeciency was lower at a still very impressive 4th best. Their success came almost entirely through the pass game (22.6), where they avoided any interceptions or sacks. The run game (2.1) contributed a little as well.

(8-2) Ravens 13 - 10 Steelers (6-4)
Offensive EPA: BAL (-8.0) - (-11.0) PIT
The Ravens pass offense comes off a great week only to put up another stinker. They mostly avoided mistakes, but ineffective normal pass plays (-0.3) were costly. Baltimore also had their worst rushing performance (-5.9) of the season. The Steelers net passing (-1.7) was also bad with backup Byron Leftwich playing, but perhaps the difference in the game was a poor punting mark (-2.6) because of a return touchdown, and a Mike Wallace fumble lost (-3.1). In our purely statistical projections, the result of the game was a boost from 60% to 80% chance of winning the division, while in reality even 80% is a bit low depending on how long Roethlisberger is out. If his injury drags on, even the Steelers wild card hopes could be in jeopardy.

(7-3) Bears 7 - 32 49ers (7-2-1)
Offensive EPA: CHI (-11.1) - (13.9) SF
In this battle of backup QBs, the Bears passing game was poor all around with a bad final net mark (-6.3). The run game (-4.1) was their worst all season. The Bears playoff chances took a hit as a result, and while they still have a good chance of making the playoffs, the Packers took a solid edge in odds to win the division. Meanwhile, the 49ers were good but not great in net passing (11.7) with Colin Kaepernick and generally a little positive in other areas. San Francisco appears ready to bench Alex Smith for Kaepernick the rest of the way, but it is hard to expect him to be much better overall based on just this one performance no more impressive than several by Smith this season.

Byes: Vikings (6-4), Giants (6-4), Seahawks (6-4), Titans (4-6)

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