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Week 8 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 8 provided some perhaps unfortunate clarity to the playoff picture in the NFL, as we now project a clear 60%+ favorite in all 8 division races, with no 2nd place team even having greater than a 30% chance of stealing the lead. Further, both conferences have clear wild card favorites from the West divisions. In fact, the NFC now has 6 teams that already each individually make the playoffs in over 2/3 of our simulations. While the Broncos remain the class of the NFL, strong efforts in Week 8 from the Packers and Saints have finally boosted other teams into elite status.

(4-3) Panthers 31 - 13 Buccaneers (0-7)
Offensive EPA: CAR (16.6) - (-3.4) TB
The Panthers net passing (6.0) was efficient by avoiding interceptions for the 3rd straight week. They added very good rushing (7.1) with the help of some QB runs. Finally, they contributed strong punting (5.0) thanks to a recovery of a muff. The Bucs offense was generally a little worse than league averages. In recent weeks the offense hasn't been quite as bad as one might expect, as the defense has been the bigger issue.

(3-5) Browns 17 - 23 Chiefs (8-0)
Offensive EPA: CLE (2.6) - (8.6) KC
Despite subpar normal pass plays (6.8), the Browns net passing (6.1) under Jason Campbell was efficient by mostly avoiding sacks and interceptions. The Chiefs defense hasn't been dominant the last couple weeks, but their pass game has stepped up enough to secure victories, albeit against teams with poor records and backup QBs. The Chiefs net passing (6.8) was solid, but the big difference in the game was their good punting (5.4) due to recovering a muff.

(3-4) Dolphins 17 - 27 Patriots (6-2)
Offensive EPA: MIA (-6.2) - (3.8) NE
The Dolphins net passing (-3.8) was poor mostly due to suffering 6 sacks (-10.8) including a lost fumble. They ran well (3.1), but lost ground by going 1/3 on field goals (-3.4). The Patriots net passing (1.8) was slightly below average, but they ran well (2.6) and were generally positive in other areas. The Patriots passing woes continue despite having their full stable of pass catchers, although a swollen hand may have impacted the play of Brady. New England won't secure a great playoff seed or advance far in the playoffs if they don't start passing much better.

(3-5) Bills 17 - 35 Saints (6-1)
Offensive EPA: BUF (-6.6) - (11.4) NO
Thad Lewis and the Bills were a little subpar in net passing (1.1), but their real issue was turnovers (-5.6) from a Lewis fumble lost on a rush and a late failed 4th down attempt. The Saints had one of their common very impressive net passing (18.7) games, which was more than enough to offset their 0/2 on field goals (-4.6).

(2-6) Giants 15 - 7 Eagles (3-5)
Offensive EPA: NYG (-8.3) - (-15.1) PHI
The Giants normal pass plays (3.3) were poor but mostly avoiding sacks and interceptions kept their net passing (1.9) only slightly below average. Despite the win, the Giants issues continued in the form of poor rushing (-5.0) and a fumbled snap (-5.7) on a punt attempt that was recovered by the Eagles for their only touchdown. Between a hobbled Michael Vick and Matt Barkley, the Eagles net passing (-9.5) was terrible due to poor normal pass plays (2.0) and 4 sacks (-9.5) including a Barkley fumble lost. The Philadelphia run game (-2.6) has had little success since their very strong first 3 games of the season.

(4-4) Cowboys 30 - 31 Lions (5-3)
Offensive EPA: DAL (3.3) - (4.7) DET
The Cowboys normal pass plays (4.2) were poor, but 0 interceptions and sacks made their net passing about average overall. Their rushing (-4.6) was terrible, but they hit 3/3 on field goals (4.4) including two 53 yarders. The Lions were a classic example of what it takes to overcome turnovers. They put themselves at about a 20 point deficit with 2 interceptions (-10.6) including a long return and 3 turnovers (-9.1) on 2 fumbles lost and a late failed 4th down attempt. That is about 15 points worse than league averages in those categories, and it took being about 15 points better than average on normal pass plays (25.7) for the Lions to offset the turnovers. They also rushed pretty well (2.2). The win boosts the Lions playoff chances, and interestingly the Cowboys playoff chances remain unchanged and higher than Detroit's due to their poor division and Philadelphia and Washington losing.

(6-2) 49ers 42 - 10 Jaguars (0-8)
Offensive EPA: SF (24.1) - (-7.9) JAC
The 49ers were again efficient on few pass attempts, with good normal pass plays (15.5) and no sacks or interceptions this week. San Francisco also ran extremely well (12.8). Their only blemish was a Frank Gore fumble lost (-3.6). The Jaguars also suffered no sacks or interceptions, but their normal pass plays (-0.1) didn't gain them any advantage. They also struggled in rushing (-2.6) and added turnovers (-3.5) on 2 late failed 4th down attempts.

(2-5) Steelers 18 - 21 Raiders (3-4)
Offensive EPA: PIT (-9.9) - (-8.6) OAK
Coming off 3 straight successful passing games, the Steelers were poor in all 3 net passing (-2.7) categories. They also struggled on field goals (-4.3) as Suisham missed 34 and 32 yarders after making a 47 yarder. The tough loss and the Bengals success severely diminishes any hope of a miracle comeback run for Pittsburgh. The Raiders were also poor in net passing (-5.7), due to very bad normal pass plays (2.3) and 2 interceptions (-5.9). But Terrelle Pryor boosted the Raiders rushing (4.4) with his 93 yard TD run. Oakland lost ground on a Jacoby Ford fumble lost (-3.7).

(4-4) Jets 9 - 49 Bengals (6-2)
Offensive EPA: NYJ (-18.2) - (21.8) CIN
The Jets were poor in all 3 net passing (-14.9) categories, with the biggest issue being 2 devastating interceptions (-15.5) which were both returned for touchdowns. They were also terrible in rushing (-5.3), but were solid in field goals (3.9) and punting (2.2). The Bengals produced the best net passing (25.7) of the week in their 3rd straight week of very good passing. With their passing effectiveness so much better than last season, we still expect some regression but the stats are very promising for the Bengals going forward. In the past 3 weeks, the Bengals rating has increased over 3 points and their playoff hopes have gone from a tossup to contending for a bye in the wild card round.

(2-5) Falcons 13 - 27 Cardinals (4-4)
Offensive EPA: ATL (-8.6) - (7.4) ARI
This game saw the Falcons produce their worst overall offensive mark and the Cardinals produce their best. The Falcons had their first real below average net passing (-0.9) game due to their 4 interceptions (-7.9), and also had their worst rushing (-5.2) game of the season. Like Pittsburgh, this loss to a below average team on the road appears to be the nail in the coffin for the Falcons despite somewhat promising season stats. The Cardinals combined only their 2nd decent net passing (4.4) performance with good rushing (4.0) thanks to an 80 yard TD run from Andre Ellington.

(2-5) Redskins 21 - 45 Broncos (7-1)
Offensive EPA: WAS (-19.8) - (4.2) DEN
The Redskins were poor in all 3 net passing (-21.2) categories. Their 4 interceptions (-18.7) were about as costly a set as you'll see in the NFL, though 2 came from Cousins in late desperation, including a long touchdown. Washington did run the ball well again (3.1). Robert Griffin looked like he may have turned the corner last week, but he continues to struggle this season. For the first time this season the Broncos really struggled with negative plays, throwing 3 interceptions (-11.2) and suffering 2 sacks (-4.8) including a lost fumble. But the Broncos added their usual great normal pass plays (22.4) to still finish with above average net passing (6.4) in their worst overall passing game of the season. Denver also had solid rushing (2.1) as they have become accustomed to.

(5-2) Packers 44 - 31 Vikings (1-6)
Offensive EPA: GB (23.2) - (12.2) MIN
The Packers were very good in net passing (21.8) and had solid rushing (2.8). Their efficiency, long drives, and 3rd and 4th down conversion success led to them only having 7 real possessions, of which they incredibly scored points on all 7. While their odds to make the playoffs and win the division remains similar with Detroit also winning, the impressive performance and increased rating boosts the Packers chances of advancing deeper in the playoffs. Though some came in "too little too late" mode, the Vikings had success in net passing (10.7) with Christian Ponder. They also did well on kickoff returns (3.7) due to a touchdown, but poorly on punts (-4.6) due to a return touchdown.

(7-1) Seahawks 14 - 9 Rams (3-5)
Offensive EPA: SEA (-4.0) - (-9.0) STL
The Seahawks net passing (-2.0) was poor despite avoiding interceptions due to subpar normal pass plays (6.7) and 7 sacks (-8.7). It was their worst passing performance of the season. They also ran poorly (-3.8). Their troubles on offense have dropped their rating, and they have now fallen back behind New Orleans in our projections of who is most likely to win the NFC championship. The Rams also struggled in net passing (-7.4) due to poor normal pass plays (2.6) and 2 interceptions (-7.5). St. Louis did rush well (2.9), but they also lost ground in our final plays of the half category (-3.0) by failing on their 4th down attempt at the 1 to end the game.

Byes: Ravens (3-4), Bears (4-3), Texans (2-5), Colts (2-5), Chargers (4-3), Titans (3-4)

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