WAS 20, CAR 33
Beck did as well as you could expect (-0.15 WPA, --5.9 EPA, 40% SR, 5.4 AYPA) with WAS's OL injuries. The OL was the cause of a good chunk of WAS's offensive problems (-0.12 WPA, -4.6 EPA), allowing CAR's DL to have their way with Beck, and he was unable to take advantage of the worst pass defense in the league. Hightower (0.08 WPA, 2.9 EPA, 55% SR, 5.2 YPC) was effective on the ground, but left the game with a knee injury. Newton ruled the day (0.29 WPA, 12.7 EPA, 51% SR, 8.6 AYPA, 0 Ints) largely thanks to Steve Smith (0.27 WPA, 11.0 EPA, 16 YPT on 9 Tgts). This game was the Cam Newton/Steve Smith Show. WAS blundered by kicking a FG on 4th and 2 from the CAR 13 down by 3 in the 2nd quarter.
SEA 3, CLE 6
Ugg. Two FGs vs one. Whitehurst was a disaster (-0.59 WPA, -17.3 EPA, 24% SR, 0.8 AYPA). CLE's OL has had better games (-0.28 WPA, -3.3 EPA, 3 sacks, 5 QB Hits, 3 tackles for losses, 33% run SR). I thought they were supposed to be good? Technically, the big 4th down blunder of the week was CLE's FG attempt with 3:08 to play. It was 4th and 3 from the SEA 6. CLE was only up 3. In any other game this would have been a huge mistake, but with the way SEA was moving the ball, maybe it made sense. But I even doubt that. If you can help it, never put yourself up 4 through 6 points with just enough time for a single drive. Your opponent now has all four downs at his disposal all the way into your endzone. In a typical game, this was a -0.12 WPA mistake. They don't get much bigger. As Gregg Easterbrook will (correctly) write on Tuesday, 'the football gods spoke, and the kick was blocked.'
ATL 23, DET 16
DET loses their second close game in a row. Both Ryan (0.12 WPA, 5.7 EPA, 44% EPA, 2.9 AYPA) and Stafford (-0.44 WPA, -3.5 EPA, 34% SR, 3 sacks) struggled, but Stafford struggled when it mattered more. It was a good defensive game. Suh (0.22 +WPA, 4.4 +EPA 1.26 TF, 4 SC) led the effort for DET with Tulloch (0.13 +WPA, 4.3 +EPA, 0.87 TF, 6 SC) right beside him. Peters (0.11 +WPA, 4.3 +EPA, 1.08 TF, 5 SC) led ATL's defense. Blunder of the game: ATL's FG on 4th and 1 from the DET 5, down by 3 in the 1st qtr.
DEN 18, MIA 15
Mr. Intangible (-0.03 WPA, +2.1 EPA, 35% SR, 3.7 AYPA) pulled it out despite displaying the accuracy of the bad guys in The A-Team. This was the comeback of the year so far, with a CBF of 100. DEN had a 0.01 WP at multiple point in the game, most dramatically when Tebow was sacked on the MIA 18 down 15-0 with 3:26 to play. Tebow had a terrible game up to that point. Even in OT, Tebow played poorly, losing 0.11 WPA taking a sack on 3rd and 5. Matt Moore (-0.33 WPA, -4.8 EPA, 44% SR, 4.7 AYPA) had a poor game. Each team had a costly 4th down decision. MIA should have gone for it on 4th and 1 from their own 29 in OT. Crazy but true. Possession is everything in OT. DEN attempted a FG on 4th and 1 from the MIA 26 in the 2nd quarter. Again, the football gods spoke, and the kick sailed wide left.
SD 21, NYJ 27
Revis (0.33 +WPA, 8.4 +EPA, 4 SC, 3PD, 1 Int) made the difference in this game. His 64-yd interception return took NYJ's WP from 0.19 to 0.48. Sanchez made a couple plays when it counted, but otherwise was very mediocre (0.00 WPA, 3.5 EPA, 50% SR, 3.2 AYPA). Rivers had very bad day (-0.41 WPA, -3.5 EPA, 46% SR, 2.5 AYPA), even though Gates was back in the lineup (0.22 WPA, 5.4 EPA, 6.8 YPT, with 8 Tgts). SD had their chance at the end, but the NYJ defense held for the much needed win.
CHI 24, TB 18
The Bears defense intercepted Freeman 4 times. Freeman really struggled (-0.39 WPA, -10.1 EPA, 39% SR, 1.3 AYPA). TB could not run the ball (25% SR, 2.8 YPC) with injuries to their top two RBs. CHI only gave up 1 sack and 3 QB Hits. Cutler still didn't play very well (-0.06 WPA, -1.6 EPA, 3.8 AYPA), but it was enough for the win in London. Urlacher led the CHI defense with 8 SC. TB kicked a FG on 4th and 1 from the CHI 16 down by 12 in the 2nd quarter. Will these coaches ever learn?
HOU 41, TEN 7
This was the game with the highest playoff leverage this week. Even without Mario Williams, HOU was able to shut down TEN's passing attack. Both teams were missing their top receivers, but HOU will get their's back in a couple weeks. It looks like the AFC South is finally there for HOU's taking. Hasselbeck was held to 0.1 AYPA. Multimillionaire Chris Johnson had another terrible game (-0.04 WPA, -3.5 EPA, 25% SR, 1.8 YPC). He's always looking for the huge gain, never content to run the play as called.
PIT 32, ARI 20
Roethlisberger had a huge game (0.59 WPA, 23.0 EPA, 57% SR, 8.6 AYPA)--top player of the week. Brown was his top target (0.22 WPA, 8.7 EPA, 9.3 YPT on 11 Tgts). The turning point of the game was a PIT 3rd and 5 in the middle of the 3rd quarter, leading 17-14. A stop would have put the game near 50/50, but Miller (0.21 WPA, 7.5 EPA, 15 YPT on 4 Tgts) pulled in a 21-yard reception, and PIT never looked back. Timmons, Clark, and Woodley led the way for the PIT defense.
KC 28, OAK 0
Kyle Boller is terrible (-0.32 WPA, -11.1 EPA, 30% SR, -5.6 AYPA). Yes, that's right -5.6 AYPA, due mostly to his 3 interceptions, 1 for a TD return. Palmer played better in relief (0.01 EPA, -0.9 AYPA), but the game was already decided. OAK's OL (0.27 WPA, 6.6 EPA, 1 sack, 2 QB Hits, 1 tackle for a loss, 50% run SR) shouldn't be blamed.
STL 7, DAL 34
This went as expected. Rookie DeMarco Murray had a huge game (0.20 WPA, 10.9 EPA, 59% SR, 10.1 YPC)--top RB of the week. STL is really struggling this season. DAL is in an easy patch in their schedule. Expect them to take control of the NFC East through the midway point of the season.
GB 33, MIN 27
Ponder played fairly well, and played even better when it really counted (0.05 WPA, 4.8 EPA, 39% SR, 3. AYPA). But it's not enough against Rodgers (0.57 WPA, 18 EPA, 68% SR, 9 AYPA). MIN seemed to have a firm handle on the game, but it always seemed like a matter of time before GB took over. Sure enough, right after halftime, Rodgers hits Jennings (top WR of the week: 0.37 WPA, 9.1 EPA, 15 YPT on 10 Tgts) for a long TD, going from 0.35 WP to 0.69 WP. MIN threatened late, but couldn't convert on their final drive. Woodson was the star on defense (0.22 +WPA, 8.4 +EPA, 4 SC, 3 PD, 2 Int).
IND 7, NO 62
I'm sorry, Mr. Irsay. There was nothing we could do. The patient flat-lined by the late 1st quarter.
WAS 20, CAR 33