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Week 3 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 3 in the NFL can only be described as ridiculous. With most quality teams on the road, games were expected to be close. The results were 10 upsets out of 16 games, 3 overtime games, 2 successful hail mary plays, and even more issues with replacement officials. Many top teams from 2011 and elite quarterbacks are struggling. The replacement officials appear to have added to the amount of randomness in games, and perhaps increased home field advantage somewhat as well.

(2-1) Giants 36 - 7 Panthers (1-2)
Offensive EPA: NYG (20.1) - (-8.9) CAR
The Giants put up one of the best offensive displays of the short season for any team thus far with good all around marks in total net passing (9.7), running (3.6), and even field goal kicking (3.5). A muffed punt return by the Panthers also helped to increase the total. Carolina continued to be consistently solid on normal pass plays (12.0), but 3 interceptions (-8.8) by Cam Newton were very costly. The Panthers offensive total was also lowered by a costly fumble on a kickoff return. The Panthers have already now had 2 offensive performances worse than all but 1 from last season, but their struggles have been in more fluky categories rather than consistent ones.

(2-1) Bills 24 - 14 Browns (0-3)
Offensive EPA: BUF (-0.8) - (-10.8) CLE
The Bills offense was pretty average all around in this game, with their best attribute being not throwing any interceptions. Coming off a promising game last week, the Browns pass offense was bad again, with 2 interceptions (-7.4) and 4 sacks (-4.4) being far too much to overcome with subpar passing on normal pass plays (5.2).

(1-2) Chiefs 27 - 24 Saints (0-3)
Offensive EPA: KC (-0.1) - (-2.1) NO
The Chiefs offense finished with about average efficiency, with a strong run game (4.8) to offset unimpressive overall net passing (1.3). This was by far the most alarming game yet for the Saints. The first two games, the offense was very good but the defense got blown out. This week, their net overall pass offense (0.6) was subpar, and worse than all but 1 of their performances from last season. The Saints stats overall though are indicative of a good team, and it is still too early to expect them to not turn things around.

(1-2) Jaguars 22 - 17 Colts (1-2)
Offensive EPA: JAC (6.6) - (2.3) IND
The Jaguars offense scored a good overall mark with good running (3.8), no interceptions, and good special teams. But the bad mark on normal pass plays (3.3) in this game and others is still a bad sign moving forward. Sometimes a losing team can come out of a game looking more capable going forward, and this was an example. The Colts offense was plagued by bad running (-4.1) and special teams, but the great mark in overall net passing (13.3) is the category more likely to continue with similar results.

(2-1) Jets 23 - 20 Dolphins (1-2)
Offensive EPA: NYJ (-2.0) - (-3.6) MIA
The Jets were about average in total net pass offense despite 2 interceptions (-6.5). A bad run game (-3.7) brought the overall offense below league average. The Dolphins offense ran the ball well again (3.6), but subpar overall passing (0.1), bad field goal kicking (-3.5) including 2 misses, and a Daniel Thomas fumble lost (-3.5) cost Miami.

(1-2) Lions 41 - 44 Titans (1-2)
Offensive EPA: DET (6.7) - (11.8) TEN
The Lions overall net pass offense was good (10.3) mostly by avoiding negative plays. The overall offensive mark was increased by a hail mary catch but also decreased by giving up a punt return touchdown. The Titans pass offense turned things around in a major way this week, posting the 2nd best total net passing performance (22.0) in the league this season while managing to avoid any sacks or interceptions. Tennessee also scored a kickoff return touchdown, but continued to run the ball very poorly (-5.6), lost a fumbled snap (-3.8), had poor field goal kicking (-4.2) including 2 misses, and lost a Kendall Wright fumble (-2.8). All told the Titans still finished with a very good offensive mark, and the performance bodes well for Jake Locker and the Titans.

(2-1) Bengals 38 - 31 Redskins (1-2)
Offensive EPA: CIN (11.1) - (6.2) WAS
Coming off a pathetic Week 1, the Bengals have all the sudden strung together 2 straight passing performances much better than any of theirs from last season. They more than made up for a costly pick-six (-5.2) with the 2nd highest normal pass play mark (26.1) in the league thus far. That number was driven up by a long touchdown pass by WR Mohamed Sanu out of the wildcat formation (5.6), but even apart from that it is a very promising result for Andy Dalton and the Bengals moving forward. An interesting game by the Redskins offense featuring a lot of the triple option resulted in a great run game (7.9), and decent normal pass plays (10.4) being offset by 5 costly sacks (-10.3) including a fumble lost.

(1-2) Rams 6 - 23 Bears (2-1)
Offensive EPA: STL (-18.2) - (-1.6) CHI
Following a successful Week 2, the Rams overall passing performance (-15.0) was the worst in the league this season, with bad normal pass plays (2.0), 2 costly interceptions (-8.8), and 6 sacks (-8.2). The Bears offense simply sat back and let the defense and the Rams give them the game. Chicago was a little below average in most offensive play types.

(1-2) Buccaneers 10 - 16 Cowboys (2-1)
Offensive EPA: TB (-13.6) - (-8.0) DAL
The Buccaneers offense was very bad due to a terrible performance on normal pass plays (-3.9). This season is showing signs of being more like last season than the 2010 success for Josh Freeman and the Bucs. Things were not much better for the Cowboys. The pass offense was plagued by 4 sacks (-9.4) including 2 lost fumbles. The run game was terrible (-5.0), leading to a bad overall offensive mark despite benefitting from a fumble recovery on a punt. Unlike the Bucs though, the Cowboys have still been decent in the more representative play types, and should be fine going forward.

(2-1) 49ers 13 - 24 Vikings (2-1)
Offensive EPA: SF (-3.1) - (7.9) MIN
The 49ers found success last season by avoiding mistakes and generating narrow margins of victory. But that is not a great recipe for long-term success. An interception (-3.6), 3 sacks (-5.7) including a fumble lost, and a Frank Gore fumble lost (-3.3) let San Francisco down in this game. And the defense was not able to make up for it this time. The standard box score stat line does not look that great for Christian Ponder, but the Vikings overall pass offense using our advanced stats (18.1) was very impressive on the heels of no sacks or interceptions. It is the best passing mark Minnesota has posted since 2010. Two fumbles lost by Toby Gerhart (-6.0) reduced the overall offensive performance from great to good. The Vikings have been solid so far but the stats do not indicate that they are a playoff caliber team.

(2-1) Eagles 6 - 27 Cardinals (3-0)
Offensive EPA: PHI (-16.9) - (2.1) ARI
The Eagles overall offensive performance was dismal. They were sacked 4 times (-16.0), including about as impactful a play as exists in football in a sack-fumble returned 93 yards for a touchdown (-11.4) at the end of the half. Michael Vick also fumbled on a scramble (-3.3). The errors were nowhere near made up for with bad normal pass plays (3.4), the worst mark in that category for the Eagles since facing the Cardinals last season. The Cardinals finally put up a good overall passing performance (8.8), but the run game was very bad (-6.2). The overall offense only finished above average because of a fumble recovery on a punt. The Cardinals may continue their undefeated streak the next couple weeks against easy opponents, but the stats show that Arizona is winning in unreliable ways and should not be considered a real contender in the NFC.

(3-0) Falcons 27 - 3 Chargers (2-1)
Offensive EPA: ATL (14.0) - (-10.0) SD
The Falcons offense again puts up an impressive performance with a great normal pass play mark (18.8) and few mistakes. Atlanta may finally be making the move from good team to great team with the increased success from Matt Ryan and the pass game. The Chargers overall passing (-5.3) and normal pass plays (0.2) marks are the lowest ever recorded for San Diego in our records dating back to 2009. It was a surprising dropoff from a successful first 2 weeks. The Chargers did run the ball well (5.5), but also lost 2 fumbles.

(3-0) Texans 31 - 25 Broncos (1-2)
Offensive EPA: HOU (11.2) - (5.6) DEN
The Texans offense was very effective on the heels of a great overall net pass game (16.5). They should definitely be a top contender in the AFC as expected. The Broncos lost again, but Peyton Manning and the overall pass offense (10.4) returned to good form. The run game (-4.2) let Denver down this week enough that the offense could not keep up with Houston.

(1-2) Steelers 31 - 34 Raiders (1-2)
Offensive EPA: PIT (13.7) - (16.6) OAK
The Steelers lose with a disappointing performance from the defense, but the offensive success is what is more likely to continue. The Steelers overall net pass offense (23.9) was the best from any team so far this season. Pittsburgh was undone by 2 fumbles (-5.8) on offense. The Raiders were also very good overall through the air (10.6). Oakland avoided fumbles, and all around good special teams put them over the top for the win.

(1-2) Patriots 30 - 31 Ravens (2-1)
Offensive EPA: NE (16.2) - (17.2) BAL
In yet another passing shootout, the Patriots leaned on a great pass game (14.0) for offensive success, but fell just short. The Ravens offset a costly interception (-5.2) with very good normal pass plays (24.4) and a solid run game (2.8) to rebound from their Week 2 struggles. These teams figure to both be in the AFC playoff picture.

(1-2) Packers 12 - 14 Seahawks (2-1)
Offensive EPA: GB (4.2) - (6.2) SEA
This was one of the somewhat rare games where the offenses were better than average despite the low score, and highlights the value of EPA analysis. The discrepancy was the result of a lack of turnovers and solid punting by both teams. The Packers normal pass plays (8.3) and net overall passing (1.3) were worse than any of their 2011 games. They were sacked 8 times (-7.0) but managed to not fumble the ball on any. This marks the 3rd straight disappointing offensive performance by Green Bay, which is alarming even though they have come against 3 of our top 4 rated defenses from a year ago. The Seahawks offense was mostly subpar apart from very good punting (3.5) and the controversial hail mary finish (5.6). Another low mark on normal pass plays (2.0) is a sign of future problems for Russell Wilson and Seattle.

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