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Week 17 Game Scripts: The Patriots Get Run Heavy

Week 17 often brings about weird results, and this year was no different. Seattle posted a Game Script of +17.6 against Arizona, which is an extreme outlier. Consider that the Cardinals had just one negative Game Script in the team’s first 15 games, a -3.8 score against St. Louis back in week 4.

Oh, and the Patriots do something really crazy (for them), but we’ll get to that in a bit. For now, the week 17 Game Scripts data. Note that this page is now updated to include the Game Scripts data from each of the 256 games this season.

TeamH/ROppBoxscorePFPAMarginGame ScriptPassRunP/R RatioOp_POp_ROpp_P/R Ratio

Run-Heavy teams

Kansas City finished with the most run-heavy ratio of the day, ignoring Game Script, but a +8.9 average lead wasn’t enough to take this game out of the “run-heavy” category. Alex Smith was responsible for 9 of those runs, but that’s part of the Chiefs offense. Given the success of the rushing attack — 38 carries for 190 yards and a touchdown (excluding one kneel) — the run-heavy approach made a lot of sense.

Ditto for the Bills, who had the second most run-heavy ratio of the day, ignoring Game Script. The team’s running backs rushed 32 times for only 58 yards, but Tyrod Taylor also ran 10 times for 51 yards and a touchdown.

In losing efforts, the Bears and… Patriots (?) were also run-happy. New England had a perfectly even 27-27 pass/carry split, odd for any team in a losing effort, but especially for the Patriots. In fact, it was first time in 10 years the Patriots ran more than they passed (excluding sacks) in a game New England lost! And it was the most run-heavy game of the year for the Patriots, which is pretty odd to see in a loss (and not just any loss, but a loss with a negative Game Script). As for Chicago, Jay Cutler threw two first-half interceptions, which may have impacted things. But the Bears had just 27 pass plays against 25 runs in a game Chicago trailed throughout. That’s pretty weird.

Pass-Heavy teams

You won’t be surprised to see Pittsburgh here. DeAngelo Williams was injured early, and the Browns are terrible against the pass. If the option is Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown or handing off to Fitzgerald Toussaint, you can imagine what most teams would do. The Steelers passed on just over two out of every three plays (once you remove kneels), a very high ratio given the team’s +6.5 Game Script.

Detroit and Baltimore also checked out as pass-heavy, but in different ways. The Lions controlled the game against the run-heavy Bears, yet passed on 70.5% of all plays (removing kneels) despite a Game Script of +5.4. It worked — Matt Stafford was very effective — but such a high ratio is pretty uncommon given the way the Lions dominated the game.

The Ravens, meanwhile, passed on 73% of plays despite Ryan Mallett being the quarterback. The running backs gained just 55 yards on 20 carries, so one can see why the Ravens didn’t lean on the ground game. Mallett struggled, predictably, but Baltimore actually was 12 of 20 on third downs, which allowed the team to call more passes for Mallett.

That does it for this year and Game Scripts. As always, please leave your suggestions and thoughts in the comments.

  • evo34

    Any chance you can post YTD R/P ratios for all plays in the first three quarters with score margin <=7 ?