Last week brought us the most lopsided game of the year. The games were more competitive this week, with the largest Game Script belonging to Tampa Bay (yes, Tampa Bay) at 14.0. The Philadelphia-Washington game provides a good example of the information conveyed — and not conveyed — by Game Scripts. Philadelphia won by 8 points, but that would be misleading if you thought it was a close game throughout: the Eagles held an average lead of 12.8 points. On the other hand, Game Scripts don’t necessarily tell you how lopsided the game was: Washington had the ball with a chance to tie, at the Eagles’ 27-yard line, with 54 seconds remaining. The Eagles came away with a very low Moral Margin of Victory (5.8) but a high Game Script, with neither bit of information being right or wrong. On one hand, Philadelphia’s Win Probability was over 85% for the final 2.5 quarters, but it was also a game where Washington was not really out of it until the final seconds. I prefer a toolbox with lots of different tools over trying to find one do-it-all device.
Here are the week 11 Game Scripts data:
Only two games this week saw the team with the positive Game Script throw more often than itsopponent. In Miami, Philip Rivers and the Chargers executed a more run-heavy plan that Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins. Ryan Mathews rushed 19 times for 127 yards (and Danny Woodhead had 21 yards on 5 carries), so it would appear quality efforts were rewarded. This was a close game throughout, with neither team ever holding a lead of more than four points. Prior to the Chargers final drive — which began with 1:54 left — Rivers had just 28 dropbacks compared to the team’s 26 rush attempts. Miami, meanwhile, continues to be extremely pass-happy, although Daniel Thomas had some success against San Diego.
The other game was Indianapolis-Tennessee, where the Colts rushed 32 times despite trailing for most of the game (of course, 9 of those runs were by Andrew Luck). That performance also doubled as the worst Game Script in a winning effort, a sign of the signature comeback we have come to expect from Luck’s Colts.
Things have been improving for the two teams that began the year 0-8. Tampa Bay has now won two straight games and produced the single best game script of the week. The Bucs are now 24th in points differential in 21st in my SOS-adjusted Power Rankings. Nothing can be done to save Greg Schiano’s job, but the Tampa Bay head coach seems like the type who would recognize that a job well done is its own reward.
The Jaguars have also made their last two games their best. After beating Tennessee in week 10, Jacksonville was very competitive with Arizona on Sunday (check the Game Script, not the final score). One interesting note from that game: the Jaguars passed on a season-high 73.3% of all plays, which might be curious since this was the second most favorable Game Script of the team’s season. But that’s what happens when Maurice Jones-Drew is limited to 23 yards on 14 carries in a competitive game. Ace Sanders picked up the slack, catching 8 passes on 10 targets for 61 yards. Jacksonville may be struggling, but they’re trying: Danny Noble scored a 62-yard touchdown on a beautiful 4th-and-1 play on the game’s first drive.
Average Field Position Data
I’ve written several times about how well the Chiefs handle the field position battle. Kansas City still ranks 1st in both average starting field position (the 33.5) and opponents’ average starting field position (21.9). I thought against the Broncos that might change, but it did not. Prior to a failed 4th-down conversion by Kansas City at the end of the game, the Broncos average starting field position was the 22.4-yard line. As a result, Denver’s average field position ranked in the bottom 10 last week, and it was one of the reasons the Broncos were held under 28 points for the first time all season. Of course, the game was not as close as the final score indicated, and the Broncos still posted the 5th best Game Script of the week.
The Bucs offense went unimpeded through the Falcons defense, with the team’s average snap taking place at the Atlanta 42-yard line. Mike Glennon threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns on 23 passes, while Bobby Rainey rushed for 163 yards on 30 carries and scored three times. The Colts presence at #2 is a bit of a surprise, but Indianapolis had 5 scoring drives of 10 plays or more. The Colts picked up 11 first downs on the ground, with Donald Brown getting six, Luck four, and Stanley Havili one. That means Trent Richardson finished the day with no first downs (although he did have a receiving first down), another ominous sign as he inches closer towards the career 400-carry mark.