Regular readers know all about Game Scripts, but you can learn more about them here. Essentially, Game Scripts is the term I’ve used to represent the average margin of lead or deficit over the course of every second of a game.
Last year, I detailed the Game Scripts each week, and I’ll do that again this year. At the top right of every page, you can see the 2015 Game Scripts, and the dropdown arrow will bring up the 2014 and 2013 results, too.
In week 1, six teams won with negative Game Scripts, including a few big comebacks. The Panthers led 17-7 at halftime in Denver, but the Broncos came back behind two C.J. Anderson touchdowns. Oakland trailed 24-10 with 20 minutes left in New Orleans, but scored 25 points in the final 20 minutes to pull out a last-minute win over the Saints.
But the big comeback, of course, was in Kansas City. With 20 minutes left in that game, the Chiefs trailed 24-3. With 3:57 left, Kansas City faced a 4th-and-5 at the San Diego 25-yard line; at that time, the Chiefs win probability was less than two percent. Starting then, Alex Smith went 22 for 29 for 208 yards with 2 TDs and 14 1st downs, along with one interception, and ran three times for 14 yards and a touchdown.
The table below shows the week 1 Game Scripts:
|Team||H/R||Opp||Boxscore||PF||PA||Margin||Game Script||Pass||Run||P/R Ratio||Op_P||Op_R||Opp_P/R Ratio|
Two teams stood out as very run-heavy: Denver and Buffalo. The Broncos were one of just two teams to finish with more runs than passes (including sacks), which maybe isn’t too surprising given that 7th round pick Trevor Siemian was making his first NFL start. Denver passed on only 49% of plays last year, with Anderson taking the bulk of the work. Last year, there were 28 games where a team threw between 48% and 50% of the time: on average, those teams had Game Scripts of +6.1, while Denver was at -3.8. For reference, of those 28 games, the lowest Game Script was just -3.4, in a game with Michael Vick as quarterback. It will be interesting to see if Denver continues to be run-heavy, or if the Broncos give Siemian more of a leash as he gains experience.
The Bills had a nearly identical situation, other than the result: Buffalo finished with a Game Script of -3.4, and had a 50/50 run/pass ratio against Baltimore. Three of those runs were Tyrod Taylor scrambles; if we count those as passes, that would have upped the Bills pass ratio for 56%. This was a hard game to analyze because Buffalo had just 48 total plays of offense, and the Bills final three drives were all three-and-outs.
The two most pass-happy teams aren’t too surprising, either. New Orleans is always pass-happy with Drew Brees, and the Saints threw on two-thirds of all plays despite leading for much of the game and finishing with a +3.7 Game Script. Mark Ingram was effective on the ground, but it’s hard to critize the Saints when Brees averaged a league-high 11.60 ANY/A (aided, of course, by a 98-yard touchdown to Brandin Cooks).
Washington finished with a Game Script of -5.8, but even that doesn’t typically justify a 78% pass ratio. That was the most pass-heavy attack in the week (both without adjusting for Game Script and after adjusting), and is a sign of the lack of faith in the team’s ground game. Matt Jones rushed 7 times for 24 yards, Chris Thompson had 4 for 23, and the team’s only other run was a scramble by Cousins for 8 yards on 4th-and-10. So fantasy owners, Kirk Cousins does seem like a high-ceiling player: He didn’t throwa touchdown, but he went 30/43 for 329 yards with two interceptions and no sacks. It’s early to make any projections based off of one week, but the pieces do seem there for Cousins to throw for a significant amount of yards this year.