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Week 15 Game Scripts: Carolina Goes Pass-Heavy

Let’s get to the Week 15 Game Scripts data! As always, you can view the full season data here.

TeamH/ROppBoxscorePFPAMarginGame ScriptPassRunP/R RatioOp_POp_ROpp_P/R Ratio
WASBUFBoxscore35251013.7292751.8%323150.8%
STLTAMBoxscore3123813.2193336.5%502665.8%
NWETENBoxscore33161713372658.7%392066.1%
SDGMIABoxscore30141612.6373650.7%371966.1%
DET@NORBoxscore3527812.4282354.9%531874.6%
KAN@BALBoxscore34142010.2282850%471971.2%
CIN@SFOBoxscore24141010.1253641%541776.1%
MINCHIBoxscore38172110.1213537.5%422067.7%
ARI@PHIBoxscore4017239.9353947.3%432068.3%
CAR@NYGBoxscore383538.8482863.2%462763%
SEACLEBoxscore3013176.3323547.8%351767.3%
GNB@OAKBoxscore3020105.8412859.4%502566.7%
ATL@JAXBoxscore231764.9363352.2%402066.7%
NYJ@DALBoxscore191630412661.2%352162.5%
HOU@INDBoxscore16106-3.3313745.6%351964.8%
PITDENBoxscore34277-5581777.3%462465.7%

Let’s break teams down into two categories:

Run-Heavy

The Bills were blown out by Washington, finishing with the worst Game Script of the week. Buffalo trailed 21-0 and 28-3 at various stages of the game, yet Buffalo finished with just one more pass attempt than rush attempt. Of course, that’s a little misleading in this case, as Tyrod Taylor had 9 of the team’s 31 rush attempts. Based on the play-by-play log, seven of those runs were scrambles. In an ideal world, we would count scrambles as pass attempts, but that’s not practicable given my current set up. Of course, that’s cold comfort to Sammy Watkins’ fantasy owners, who are victim to the Bills run-heavy approach, whether due to Taylor scrambles or philosophy.

The most run-heavy team (ignoring Game Script) of week 15, unsurprisingly, was St. Louis. The Rams want to run the ball, and given a +13.2 Game Script, it’s not surprising that they ultimately ran on 33 of 52 plays. The part that is surprising: St. Louis rushed for just 98 yards on 33 carries, while gaining 221 yards on 19 pass plays. Even ignoring kneels, St. Louis averaged 3.36 yards per rush and 11.63 yards per pass. Who knew Case Keenum had it in him?

The Vikings and Texans were the other two teams that were particularly ground-heavy this week. That’s not particularly unusual, but it’s notable how the situations were drastically different. In Minnesota, Teddy Bridgewater was near perfect, completing 17 of 20 passes for 231 yards and 4 touchdowns, with just one sack. That sort of hyper-efficiency (ANY/A of 14.33) allowed Minnesota to lean on its ground game, which produced 36 carries for 129 yards (Bridgewater himself added 4/17/1 on the ground). Houston had its quarterback duties split between Brandon Weeden and T.J. Yates: that called for a healthy dose of anybody-but-those two, and the Texans finished with 34 runs for 159 yards (excluding kneels).

Pass-Heavy

Four teams made this list, and three of them are not surprising at all. Both teams in the Pittsburgh/Denver game were pass-happy. In fact, the teams combined for 104 pass attempts (including sacks), the most in any game so far in 2015. Pittsburgh passed on 77% of plays, a full 15% higher than any other winning team this week.

New England, as usual, checks in as pass-happy this week. On the surface, a 58.7% pass ratio doesn’t seem that high, but the Patriots had a Game Script of +13.0. Excluding the Patriots, the rest of the league has had a Game Script of between +12 and +14 in fourteen games this season. On average, the Game Script was +12.8, and those teams passed on 47.8% of all plays. The three times the Patriots had a Game Script between 12 and 14, they passed 60.6% of the time (against Miami), 51.3% (against Washington), and then 58.7% against Tennessee on Sunday. Tom Brady is on pace to set a career high in pass attempts, although that may not happen if New England chooses to rest him. Still, with a game against the Jets coming up, that may be all Brady needs to get without shouting distance (he’s currently 66 attempts away from topping the 637-attempt mark he set in 2012). Remember the last time the Patriots played the Jets, New England had 57 pass plays.

And finally, Carolina shows up as pass-happy. The Panthers easily eclipsed seasons highs in both pass attempts (48) and pass ratio (63%). All this in a game where Carolina had a Game Script of +8.8! Up 21-7 in the third quarter, Carolina embarked on a 7-play scoring drive with six pass attempts. On the ensuing drive, up 28-7, the Panthers ran 6 plays, with 5 of them being passes. Cam Newton was white hot for various points of this game, and Jonathan Stewart was out with an injury, so this makes some sense. I don’t think we should expect to see Carolina regularly showing up on these lists, but it does show that Carolina may be a bit more balanced than we have presumed.

What stands out to you?