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Week 12 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 12 of the NFL season came with an inordinate amount of even matchups. Most every game seemed to feature relatively equivalent quality teams, usually with the slightly better side on the road to make for even tighter expectations. And, for the most part, it delivered. The result was many games down to the wire including 2 overtime games, and often playoff implications were paramount. In both conferences, division races remain mostly settled already, but the wild card races only became more complicated. In the AFC, the fall of the Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger has opened the door for the Bengals to make things interesting, while in the NFC most top wild card contenders lost, meaning hope still remains for a majority of the conference. In our ratings, the Patriots have begun to pull away a bit at the top, and as such are slight Super Bowl favorites, but most other division favorites are not far behind.

(10-1) Texans 34 - 31 Lions (4-7)
Offensive EPA: HOU (13.2) - (10.2) DET
The Texans were equally successful in net passing (8.9) and rushing (8.9), but most of the rushing value came on the controversial long touchdown that was not deserved. The Lions net pass game has picked up a bit of late, and was very good in this game (13.1). A Brandon Pettigrew fumble lost (-3.0) was costly for Detroit. The Lions remain a bit underrated and much better than their record.

(5-6) Redskins 38 - 31 Cowboys (5-6)
Offensive EPA: WAS (10.3) - (8.4) DAL
For the 2nd week in a row, the Redskins net passing (14.1) has been very good. The run game (2.8) was solid as well this week. Despite 2 interceptions (-6.4), the Cowboys net passing (13.2) was still very good. A Dez Bryant fumble lost (-3.0) hurt an otherwise good offensive performance that just couldn't quite keep up with Washington. This game had significant implications on our projections, where the Redskins now have a better chance than the Cowboys this season. The Giants win keeps both teams at bay in the division for now, but losses by several wild card contenders means both now have a reasonable path to the playoffs outside of winning the NFC East.

(8-3) Patriots 49 - 19 Jets (4-7)
Offensive EPA: NE (16.2) - (-13.3) NYJ
Despite the high score, this game was about equal parts good Patriots offense and bad Jets offense. The Patriots net passing (17.1) was very good yet again, and has generally improved as the season has progressed. New England hasn't suffered a single sack or interception in the last 2 weeks. Their rushing (7.5) was also very good again. The overall offense was reduced from great to good by missing their only field goal attempt (-2.4) and losing a fumble (-3.5). Apart from the ridiculous fumble returned for a Patriots touchdown, Mark Sanchez and the Jets net pass offense (8.4) was actually good. However, the rush offense (-5.5) was poor. The Jets biggest problems came on kickoff returns (-9.2) because of a fumble returned for a touchdown, and their 3 other lost fumbles (-7.5) including the Sanchez fumble and 2 others that were much less costly. In the past 2 weeks, the Patriots have pulled away a bit in our ratings as the best team in the league.

(6-5) Vikings 10 - 28 Bears (8-3)
Offensive EPA: MIN (-16.2) - (1.8) CHI
The Vikings were very bad on normal pass plays (0.9), which has been happening every other game of late and is a bad sign. They did run the ball (4.8) well, but lost a fumbled snap (-3.4) and also lost points by turning the ball over (-8.3) on an Adrian Peterson fumble and 2 late 4th down failures. The Bears were slightly above average in net passing (5.3) and rushing (2.8). They lost points on a Matt Forte fumble lost (-3.8) and a blocked field goal at the end of the 1st half. The necessary win for the Bears and Packers loss returns the NFC North to a near tossup between the two.

(3-8) Raiders 10 - 34 Bengals (6-5)
Offensive EPA: OAK (-14.3) - (9.7) CIN
The Raiders unsurprisingly suffered from an interception (-4.3) and 4 sacks (-7.0) including a fumble lost. They are usually able to make up for similar problems with good normal pass plays, but were bad in that category as well (-1.1) this week. The Bengals normal pass plays (8.2) were actually worse than usual on their recent hot streak, but by again avoiding interceptions they were successful overall passing. Cincinnati also had their best week rushing (10.9) all season. The Bengals playoff chances have improved to 39%, a number which will continue to increase if Ben Roethlisberger misses more games.

(6-5) Steelers 14 - 20 Browns (3-8)
Offensive EPA: PIT (-21.9) - (-15.9) CLE
This was one of the worst joint offensive games this season. The Steelers total net passing (-2.9) was bad even though their 3 interceptions (-7.1) were not quite as costly as average interceptions. Their run game (-6.0) was also bad, even apart from fumbles. An amazing 5 fumbles lost (-12.1) by 4 running backs and a wide receiver meant the Steelers turned the ball over an astonishing 8 times. The Browns managed to win the game by being just a little less terrible on offense. Their net passing overall (-10.1) was worse, as their only interception was a pick-6 (-7.1) that was equally as costly as all 3 Steelers interceptions. The Cleveland run game (-5.4) was equally poor, but they avoided fumbles. Our Steelers rating has decreased because of the absence of Roethlisberger, meaning they are better than our rating with him in, but still worse than our rating if he misses more time.

(10-1) Falcons 24 - 23 Buccaneers (6-5)
Offensive EPA: ATL (6.1) - (5.1) TB
The Falcons rebounded from a poor previous week to resume their usual very good net passing (13.1). Their overall efficiency was brought down some by poor field goal kicking. The Buccaneers were somewhat efficient by avoiding interceptions and minimizing sacks, which was just barely not enough. The game finally essentially clinches the division for Atlanta, while Tampa Bay sees decreased playoff odds but benefitted from other contenders losing as well.

(4-7) Bills 13 - 20 Colts (7-4)
Offensive EPA: BUF (-3.4) - (5.1) IND
The Bills were somewhat poor in net passing (0.1), and were poor punting (-4.2) due to a touchdown return. Buffalo has an easy remaining schedule, so they have a good chance to still win more of their remaining 5 games than they lose. The Colts were good in net passing (7.9) and a little poor in rushing (-2.4). The Colts playoff odds increased to 80% with the help of the Steelers losing again.

(4-7) Titans 19 - 24 Jaguars (2-9)
Offensive EPA: TEN (0.6) - (5.6) JAC
The Titans were slightly subpar in net passing (1.6). With Jake Locker back from injury the past 2 games, they have been mediocre by avoiding negative plays, but haven't been quite as promising as in his early season games. Despite giving up a season worst 7 sacks (-7.9), the Jaguars net passing (4.0) with Henne was solid thanks to normal pass plays (16.6) again better than any game under Gabbert. Jacksonville also again benefitted from successful punting (3.2). Henne's success will likely still slow, but at least the Jags are competitive with him under center.

(8-3) Broncos 17 - 9 Chiefs (1-10)
Offensive EPA: DEN (4.5) - (-3.5) KC
Despite the low score, the Broncos net passing (11.1) was still very good. Their offense was inhibited by poor rushing (-2.8) and field goal attempts (-4.3). The Chiefs net passing (-4.7) was again inept under Brady Quinn, but they were decent in other areas. The Broncos have an easy schedule ahead, but still face an uphill battle to gain a bye in the playoffs because they lost head to head to both Houston and New England.

(6-5) Seahawks 21 - 24 Dolphins (5-6)
Offensive EPA: SEA (10.6) - (14.4) MIA
This game was a surprising offensive shootout of sorts, where scoring was only capped by a lack of turnovers, and incompletions to stop the clock. The Seahawks net passing (11.1) was good all around. Poor rushing (-3.7) was made up for by good kick returns (4.3) thanks to a return touchdown. The Dolphins net passing (6.7) was a bit above average by avoiding negative plays. But their bigger success came from a very dominant rushing attack (10.2). The Seahawks missed out on an opportunity to pull ahead in the NFC wild card race with others losing, while the Dolphins still face long odds to sneak into the AFC playoffs.

(9-2) Ravens 16 - 13 Chargers (4-7)
Offensive EPA: BAL (3.6) - (0.6) SD
This game was low scoring, but the offenses were actually more successful than league averages. The Ravens on-and-off pass game was on this week. They were good in net passing (8.1), but were a little subpar on runs (-2.0). The Chargers net passing (-3.9) was poor because of weak normal pass plays (3.4) and 6 sacks (-7.3). San Diego made up some ground on runs (1.6), field goals (1.5), and punts (4.0), but still came up just short. The win for the Ravens keeps them in contention for a bye in the playoffs, and the weak competition for the AFC wild cards means the Chargers still hold a small chance of making the playoffs.

(4-6-1) Rams 31 - 17 Cardinals (4-7)
Offensive EPA: STL (-0.4) - (-14.4) ARI
The Rams were pretty close to average all around except for their poor field goals (-3.1). In 6th round rookie QB Ryan Lindley's first full game, the Cardinals were actually solid on normal pass plays (12.0), but 4 interceptions (-20.8) including 2 returned for touchdowns reduced their overall passing effort to very poor. It was the 2nd most costly set of interceptions this season.

(8-2-1) 49ers 31 - 21 Saints (5-6)
Offensive EPA: SF (1.2) - (-8.8) NO
The 49ers under Kaepernick were again good but not quite as great as he seems to get credit for. Their net passing (6.5) was efficient mostly by avoiding sacks. However, their offense overall was just about average after being mitigated by poor field goal attempts (-3.8). The Saints were decent on normal pass plays (12.4), but 2 pick-6's (-13.3) and 5 sacks (-5.8) resulted in the Saints worst total net passing (-6.7) since 2009. New Orleans made up some ground on punts (6.5) with help from a fumble recovery, but dug too big a hole in the pass game. The game carried significant playoff implications as the 49ers pull away again in the NFC West, while the Saints fail to take a huge step forward in the stagnant NFC wild card race.

(7-4) Packers 10 - 38 Giants (7-4)
Offensive EPA: GB (-9.3) - (18.7) NYG
The Packers were slightly subpar in total passing (-0.5) mostly due to 5 sacks (-9.3) including a lost fumble. They were also a little below average in most other categories. Following a big 3 game slump, the Giants passing attack woke up in a huge way. Their net passing (21.6) was by far their best all season. The game had big implications on both teams chances of winning their divisions, helping the Giants a little bit more than it hurt the still slight favorite Packers.

(3-8) Panthers 30 - 22 Eagles (3-8)
Offensive EPA: CAR (9.5) - (0.5) PHI
The Panthers net passing (17.2) was their best this season and about as good as any performance from last season for Cam Newton. The Eagles under 3rd round rookie Nick Foles again were unimpressive passing. Their normal pass plays (2.7) were bad, but they did manage an almost mediocre net result (1.1) by avoiding negative plays for the most part. Philadelphia did have their best rushing game (11.2) of the season, but lost major points on kick returns (-4.3) because of a fumble lost and turnovers (-9.3) on 2 Bryce Brown fumbles and a failed 4th down conversion. Both teams remain better than their records indicate, although that is only true for Philadelphia when Vick is playing.

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