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Week 12 went down as the most pass-happy week of the season. Most weeks this year have fluctuated with a pass ratio in the neighborhood of 59%, but teams attempted passes on over 62% of all plays in week 12. As a result, a number of teams — New England, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Cleveland, New Orleans, Miami, the Giants, and Detroit — all graded as very pass-happy. On the flip side, just two teams (the Eagles and Vikings) were run-heavy.

Brock Osweiler, shockingly, helped the Broncos pull off one of the biggest comebacks of the year. Denver trailed New England 21-7 in the 4th quarter, and you simply don’t expect the Patriots to give up a lead of that size. But the Broncos, powered by both Osweiler and the running game, pulled off the win despite having a -7.1 Game Script, making it the third largest comeback (as measured by Game Script) of 2015.

The other thing that stood out this week: there were a lot of blowouts! Five teams won handily, with 18 point margins of victory and double-digit game scripts. In addition, Washington won with a 9.4 Game Script, although the Giants made a game of it at the end. Below are the week 12 Game Scripts data!

TeamH/ROppBoxscorePFPAMarginGame ScriptPassRunP/R RatioOp_POp_ROpp_P/R Ratio
DETPHIBoxscore45143115.7403057.1%332556.9%
CAR@DALBoxscore33141914.8283643.8%421475%
CINSTLBoxscore3172412.7283147.5%541776.1%
HOUNORBoxscore2461812.1283842.4%46983.6%
NYJMIABoxscore38201811.8383452.8%61987.1%
WASNYGBoxscore201469.4293644.6%541380.6%
MIN@ATLBoxscore2010105.4283941.8%332457.9%
BAL@CLEBoxscore332765.4342359.6%501873.5%
SDG@JAXBoxscore312563.9452663.4%511972.9%
INDTAMBoxscore2512132.7452663.4%412166.1%
ARI@SFOBoxscore191362.7412958.6%381769.1%
OAK@TENBoxscore242131.7392957.4%391868.4%
KANBUFBoxscore30228-0.2312753.4%392858.2%
CHI@GNBBoxscore17134-0.6323051.6%452762.5%
SEAPITBoxscore39309-0.9322655.2%611481.3%
DENNWEBoxscore30246-7.1453258.4%451673.8%

With so many pass-happy teams this week, let’s just focus on the three extreme cases. In Seattle, I think we can declare the Legion of Boom era as having its best days behind them. At one point, teams were afraid of throwing on the Seahawks. Now? The Steelers called 61 pass plays against the Seahawks against just 13 runs, with five of those runs coming from Ben Roethlisberger himself. Pittsburgh made no secret of its one-dimensional approach to offense, yet the Steelers still gained 538 yards, with 480 of those coming through the air. Those five runs were one kneel, two scrambles, and two third-and-one sneaks, so Pittsburgh really called 63 pass plays against just 11 runs. Given that Pittsburgh actually had a positive Game Script in this one, that is insane.

New England was leading most of the game against Denver, and was without its top two wide receivers, but that didn’t stop the team from calling just 16 rushing plays against 45 passes. The main reason? The ground game was going nowhere, gaining just 39 yards on 16 carries.

Finally, Miami — in a throwback to the halycon days of the Joe Philbin era — had another insane pass-happy day against the Jets. You may recall that in Philbin’s last game as head coach, Miami had 47 passes and just 11 runs. Well, in the rematch, the Dolphins had 61 passes and just 9 runs! So in two games against the Jets, Miami had 108 passes and 20 rushes. The Jets, with a great run-stuffing defensive line, cause a lot of teams to be pass-happy. But the Dolphins seem to take that idea to the extreme (and the bad Game Scripts don’t exactly help the cause).

Finally, let’s look at the Vikings, who had the lowest pass ratio of the week. Minnesota led 7-0 after the 1st quarter, 7-3 at halftime, 10-3 after the third, and 20-3 late in the game. When the Game Script is in the Vikings favor, they will be happy to run the ball. Adrian Peterson finished with 158 yards and 2 touchdowns on 29 carries, while Teddy Bridgewater had 174 yards (and no touchdowns with one interception) on 28 dropbacks. Score one for the old-school running game.

Finally, you can see the Game Scripts from each game this week at this always-updated page.

  • sacramento gold miners

    Brock Osweiler has made huge strides, and taking down New England with so little experience was very impressive. The ability of a young QB to handle that situation on top of the weather conditions is a very positive sign moving forward for Denver. Manning is looking like John Unitas with San Diego.

  • Yazan Gable

    Considering the expectations that were had for the Bears, I am surprised more hasn’t been made of how consistent they’ve been when Jimmy Clausen wasn’t their QB. Besides the blowout by the Cardinals and the shutout by the Seahawks, even the first Packers game was close until the 4th quarter. Not saying their team is good or has any real chance at the playoffs, but they’ve performed better than expected considering they were missing Jeffery and Royal for a good chunk of time and didn’t get to use Kevin White. Plus them beating the Packers was the Packers on Brett Favre Night at Lambeau Field was the best thing ever.

    • Tom

      Yazan – I put together a quick graph showing SRS ratings for the NFC North starting from Week 4. As we know, the SRS ratings are a bit sketchy in the early weeks because there’s not enough data, but it does look like Chicago has improved the most out of the three NFC North “little brothers”…they’ve gone from -11.6 at the end of Week 4 to +0.4 at the end of Week 12. FiveThirtyEight’s ELO ratings gave them a 4% chance to make the playoffs at the end of Week 4 to 20% now. They’d probably need to win every game from here on out, but considering they play SFO, WAS, @MIN, @TAM, DET, I’d say they have a decent shot at it.