For the second straight week, an NFC West team produced a monster game script. This week, it was Seattle dominating New Orleans and taking control of the NFC. The Seahawks can clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs by simply winning the team’s final two home games, and Seattle appears to be (again) getting hot just in time for the postseason. Among passers with at least nine starts, Russell Wilson has the second best ANY/A average behind Peyton Manning, and the team should have a healthy Percy Harvin for the playoffs. In other words, it’s going to take an incredible effort for a team to knock off the Seahawks, who also rank #1 in DVOA.
Six teams in week 13 won with negative Game Scripts, with Matt Ryan leading the biggest comeback of the week. In surprising twists, the Patriots and Cowboys trailed early before toppling the Texans and Raiders, while the Vikings came from behind late to defeat the Bears. The Jaguars won in the final minute in one of the more exciting games of the week, while the Giants won (in somewhat controversial fashion) after falling behind 14-0 early in Washington. Below are the Game Scripts data from each game in week 13:
Three games saw the pass/run ratios deviate from the Game Scripts, with the most surprising one occurring in Dallas. Through 12 weeks, the Cowboys were the most pass-happy team in the league; then, despite post a Game Script of -2.4 points on Thanksgiving against the Raiders, Dallas passed on only 53.1% of the team’s plays. One explanation would be that the running game was working — DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar rushed 29 times for 145 yards and three touchdowns. The passing game wasn’t struggling — Tony Romo produced 208 net yards on 34 attempts — so I think I’d chalk this one up to just being an outlier and the Cowboys (correctly) thinking they could run all over Oakland.
Minnesota routinely winds up in this space, as a team that often trails and often runs more than its opponent. I think Adrian Peterson has something to do with that. Against the Bears he had over 200 rushing yards, and Minnesota had 246 rushing yards on 40 carries and 250 net passing yards on 46 pass plays.
The final game was the Colts-Titans battle, which was an ugly affair on all sides. Indianapolis posted a Game Script of 2.0, but in a close game the Colts(correctly) put the ball in the hands of Andrew Luck. So the pass/run ratios make sense here, although Tennessee called more pass plays than the numbers suggest, as Ryan Fitzpatrick had eight runs.
Game Scripts Standings
Let’s take a look at the Game Scripts standings now that we are at the three-quarters mark of the season. You might be surprised to see who is #2:
San Francisco has six games this year where the team posted a Game Script of +9.0 or higher, including two games of over 18.0 points. The 49ers lost to Carolina and New Orleans in games where San Francisco posted positive Game Scripts. Had the 49ers taken care of business in those games, San Francisco would still control its own destiny for the #1 seed in the NFC.
Three AFC South teams occupy the bottom five of the list, including the eventual division champion Colts. Indianapolis has had seven games with negative Game Scripts, including a -11.0 in a win against Houston, a -18.7 in Arizona, and the worst Game Script of 2013, a -23.2 at home against the Rams.
Average Field Position
The Chiefs defense allowed 35 points to the Broncos on Sunday. Is that because the Broncos were the beneficiaries of good field position? Not at all. Denver’s five touchdown drives covered 416 yards, an average of 83 yards per scoring drive.
And that Matt Flynn offense was every bit as ugly as you remember.