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Week 9 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 9 did not present any major shake-ups compared to expectations, but a few key games played significant roles in slightly shuffling our playoff projections. An upset victory for the Steelers at the Giants was just enough to tip the AFC North scales in favor of Pittsburgh despite being behind by a game. But the race remains very much a tossup between the Steelers and the Ravens. The Colts and Seahawks were able to nudge out a lead in the race for the 6th seeds in each conference fittingly by defeating the teams that held those positions coming into the week, respectively the Dolphins and Vikings. The most stunning in-game result of the week was the Titans offense collapse against the Bears. Even though it was against our #1 defense of Chicago, Tennessee managed a surprising 2nd worst offensive mark of any team all season.

(1-7) Chiefs 13 - 31 Chargers (4-4)
Offensive EPA: KC (-7.1) - (9.3) SD
The Chiefs moved the ball relatively well on normal pass plays (11.9), but it was more than offset by a costly pick-6 (-8.0) and their only sack (-5.3) being fumbled and recovered for a touchdown by the Chargers. The run game (-2.2) has now shifted from 4 positive games to 4 negative ones in a row. Kansas City did finish with a good mark punting (3.8) because they recovered a fumbled punt return. The Chargers were good but not great in both total net passing (8.2) and rushing (2.1). They too finished strong in punting (4.0) due to recovering a fumbled punt return.

(5-3) Broncos 31 - 23 Bengals (3-5)
Offensive EPA: DEN (14.4) - (8.2) CIN
The Broncos were again great on normal pass plays (20.4), and despite throwing 2 interceptions (-5.9) they suffered no sacks. Denver struggled rushing (-2.9) but also scored high on kickoff returns (2.6) because of a touchdown. The Bengals were slightly above league average in net passing (6.1), rushing (0.8), kickoff returns (0.6), field goals (2.4), and punts (1.5) all, but it just was not quite enough to match the Broncos passing.

(4-5) Cardinals 17 - 31 Packers (6-3)
Offensive EPA: ARI (-6.2) - (7.8) GB
The Cardinals net passing (1.6) was not quite as bad as it had been the past 3 weeks, but was still below league average. Arizona also had difficulty rushing (-2.4). The Packers were above league average in net passing (7.8) again, but the last 2 weeks have not been quite the dominant performances that we came to expect during their amazing run from weeks 4-7. Green Bay did actually run the ball well (1.9) though, and also had a high mark on punts (4.4) because of a fumble recovery.

(3-5) Bills 9 - 21 Texans (7-1)
Offensive EPA: BUF (-5.4) - (6.6) HOU
The Bills normal pass plays (4.2) were poor, but they avoided interceptions to end with just below league average net passing. Their run game (-1.4) was negative for just the 2nd time this season. Buffalo also suffered a fumble lost (-3.4). The Texans net pass offense (13.8) was very good, and more than enough to make up for subpar rushing (-1.8) and a couple other negative categories.

(4-4) Dolphins 20 - 23 Colts (5-3)
Offensive EPA: MIA (8.1) - (11.1) IND
The Dolphins normal pass plays (8.6) were unimpressive, but the pass game overall was efficient by avoiding interceptions or many sacks. Miami has now gone 4 straight games without an interception. They also turned around their recently struggling run game (3.5). The Colts put up one of the best net passing (22.3) games for any team this season. It was more than enough to make up for bad running (-4.3) and subpar field goal attempts (-3.9). It was the first great performance of the season for Andrew Luck and the pass offense, but they have had several very good games prior. With the win, the Colts nab the final wild card spot from the Dolphins in our projections, but still have just barely over a 50% chance of making the playoffs.

(6-2) Ravens 25 - 15 Browns (2-7)
Offensive EPA: BAL (0.6) - (-9.4) CLE
The Ravens normal pass plays (6.9) were subpar, but no interceptions and just 1 sack (-1.1) resulted in an efficient net pass game. Baltimore was about average or just below average in most other categories. The Browns pass game has slowed the past 2 weeks, and really struggled this game with very poor normal pass plays (1.4) on top of 2 interceptions (-5.1).

(4-4) Lions 31 - 14 Jaguars (1-7)
Offensive EPA: DET (20.2) - (4.3) JAC
The Lions had a great game in net passing (16.1) and rushing (5.7). The 2011 season is reason to think that the recent passing success could continue, in which case the Lions would have a solid chance of making the playoffs still. The Jaguars have been terrible, but at least for one week here the offense is not to blame. Their net passing (3.1) was about league average, and they ran the ball well (2.6).

(7-1) Bears 51 - 20 Titans (3-6)
Offensive EPA: CHI (-0.2) - (-29.7) TEN
The Bears were solid on normal pass plays (12.2). Despite again struggling in protection with 3 sacks (-7.5) including a fumble lost, avoiding interceptions kept the pass game a little above average. The Bears high point total came entirely from defense and special teams. The Titans total offensive mark was the 2nd worst by any team this season. Tennessee ran the ball well (4.4), and otherwise was terrible. Their bad normal pass plays (2.9) could not offset a pick-6 (-7.7) and 2 sacks (-3.8). Losing an incredible 4 fumbles and a failed 4th down conversion led to the worst mark ever recorded (-15.2) in that combined category in our records back to 2009. Their special teams collapsed as well including a terrible mark on punts (-6.3) due to a block recovered for a touchdown, and bad kickoff returns (-4.5). Charles Tillman has a knack for punching the ball out to force fumbles. He seems to be the only exception to our general rule that teams that force more fumbles will not continue to do so in the future. But even for him, this game was unbelievable. His 4 forced fumbles would tie for the 2nd highest in his career as an entire season, let alone in a single game. Any coach who does not warn his players of Tillman prior to facing the Bears does so at his own peril, and it is frankly surprising that coaches have not begun to coach players to emulate his techniques.

(4-4) Buccaneers 42 - 32 Raiders (3-5)
Offensive EPA: TB (15.6) - (7.1) OAK
The Buccaneers pass offense continues their hot streak with solid normal pass plays (12.0), no interceptions, and just 1 sack (-1.4). But their bigger success came on run plays (14.9), where they put up the best mark of any team all season. Such success allowed for the win despite poor field goal kicking (-4.0) and a fumbled handoff (-4.1). The Raiders offense was solid as well. They more than overcame 3 interceptions (-10.3) with great normal pass plays (19.9). Oakland also punted well (3.7), but had subpar rushing (-1.5) and their successes were not quite enough to keep up with the Bucs. Our rating for Tampa Bay jumped considerably this week, but their playoff odds remain low due to a very difficult remaining schedule.

(2-6) Panthers 21 - 13 Redskins (3-6)
Offensive EPA: CAR (8.6) - (1.8) WAS
The Panthers were efficient passing despite average normal pass plays (9.3) by avoiding any interceptions or sacks. They also ran the ball well (2.8). The Redskins were about average passing overall. They suffered a costly 4 sacks (-5.3) but made up for it by avoiding interceptions. Washington was also pretty average in other areas.

(5-4) Vikings 20 - 30 Seahawks (5-4)
Offensive EPA: MIN (5.5) - (16.5) SEA
The Vikings great day running the ball (13.2) was spoiled by bad all around net passing (-5.9). The overall result was a solid offense performance, but an inability to match a great day from Seattle. The statline for Russell Wilson does not jump off the page, but the Seahawks were very effective overall in passing. Their normal pass plays (16.3) were good, and no interceptions and just 1 sack (-0.6) made it their best total net passing game of the season. Seattle also ran the ball as well (5.0) as any game this season. As a result of the win and an increased rating, the Seahawks stole the 6th seed in the NFC from their Minnesota opponents in our current playoff projections.

(5-3) Steelers 24 - 20 Giants (6-3)
Offensive EPA: PIT (0.1) - (-4.4) NYG
The Steelers pass offense was pretty average apart from giving up 4 sacks (-13.2) including a questionable fumble call that was returned for a touchdown. But as it was, the net pass game (-5.0) was very bad. But Pittsburgh made up for it with their 3rd straight great rushing performance (8.7), this time without Jonathan Dwyer, showing that he was not the only difference. The Giants net pass offense (-0.2) was bad for the 2nd straight week, while otherwise the offense was pretty average. With another poor passing performance, the Giants rating continues to drop, but their playoff odds remain strong with the rest of the division all also losing.

(3-5) Cowboys 13 - 19 Falcons (8-0)
Offensive EPA: DAL (1.5) - (7.5) ATL
Despite the low scoring game, the offenses here were generally more efficient than league averages. The Cowboys net passing (8.1) was good mostly by avoiding negative plays. But poor running (-2.7) and field goal kicking (-1.7) let them down. The Falcons league-leading pass offense continued strong with great net passing (14.0). Poor performances rushing (-1.1), punting (-1.6), and field goal kicking (-2.8) mitigated some success, but not enough to cost Atlanta the game.

(3-5) Eagles 13 - 28 Saints (3-5)
Offensive EPA: PHI (-7.1) - (7.5) NO
The Eagles normal pass plays (11.0) were slightly better than league average, but an enormous 7 sacks (-5.7) and an incredibly costly pick-6 (-10.5) set back the passing game as a whole. The interception was close to as impactful a single play as exists in football. Philadelphia did run the ball well (4.1), but also lost a costly Brent Celek fumble (-3.7). The Saints rebounded from their debacle in Denver last week with a good game in net passing (9.7) and rushing (4.0). New Orleans did lose some ground on kickoff returns (-4.3) due to a fumble and by going 0/1 on field goals (-2.1).

Byes: Patriots (5-3), Jets (3-5), 49ers (6-2), Rams (3-5)

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