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Week Eight Game Scripts: The New Comeback of the Year

If you watched the Lions/Falcons game — you know, the Wembly WhyamIwatchingthisgame — you probably left with the feeling that neither team deserved a win. The game was a disaster of epic proportions at the coaching level, but the game was also notable for another reason: after trailing 14-0 at the end of the first quarter and 21-0 at halftime, the Lions came back to win, 22-21. Detroit posted a Game Script of -11.3, making it the largest comeback of the year.

The biggest blowout of the week was in Foxboro, where the Bears lost by 28 points and posted a Game Script of -21.0. In a weird twist, though, both teams had pretty similar pass/run ratios. Was this due to New England being pass-happy despite leading, Chicago being run-heavy despite trailing, or a combination of both? As it turns out, both teams veered off their expected pass/run ratios by about 10%. A team with a Game Script of +21.0 should be expected to pass on about 45% of plays, while the Patriots 56% of the time. On the flip side, the Bears would have been projected to pass 70% of the time, but wound up throwing on just 59% of all plays. Chicago ran well — Matt Forte and Ka’Deem Carey combined for 147 yards on 25 carries — while New England was passing uh, very well, with Tom Brady completing 30 of 35 passes and throwing five touchdowns.

The table below lists the Game Scripts from each game in week 8:

TeamH/ROppBoxscorePFPAMarginGame ScriptPassRunP/R RatioOp_POp_ROpp_P/R Ratio
The Colts passed and passed and then passed some more

The Colts passed and passed and then passed some more

  • Playing in catch-up mode most of the way, the Colts set a high-water mark for the 2014 season by throwing on 82% of their plays this season. Even that number understates things, as Andrew Luck had two scrambles and one kneel that get marked down as rushing plays. That means the Colts called 48 pass plays and just seven runs. That’s about as pass-heavy as you can get: it’s even more pass-happy than the crazy Ravens/Bills or Cowboys/Vikings games from 2013. Just a week ago, I noted that the Colts were the 2nd most pass-heavy team in the NFL. After this game, they might now be number one. While every team will go pass-happy when playing under a Game Script of -11.6, that usually means throwing on two out of every three passes, not six out of every seven.
  • The Philadelphia/Arizona game was as even as it gets, checking in with a Game Script of -0.1 (from the perspective of the Eagles). Yet Nick Foles threw 62 passes! That’s insane. Even with LeSean McCoy getting 21 carries, the Eagles have made it clear that they are now a passing team.
  • The Panthers had a Game Script of +1.8, but that doesn’t explain a run-heavy plan that resulted in six more runs than passes. Of course, Cam Newton was credited with a dozen runs, so that can skew things pretty heavily. The Panthers have not been very run-heavy this year, but perhaps will trend that way going forward. The Jaguars showed up as very run-heavy, too: despite a -8.7 Game Script, the Jaguars wound up running Denard Robinson 18 times, and finished with 30 runs, their second-highest total of the year. I guess that’s what happens when Blake Bortles throws two pick sixes…
  • Finally, we talked last week about how nobody runs against the Jets. And how the Bills, down Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, would probably be super pass-happy against the Jets in week 8. And then…. Buffalo wound up with 32 runs and 21 passes? This was as weird a result as any you’ll see all season. The Bills weren’t successful on the ground — Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown combined for 63 yards on 29 carries — while Kyle Orton (thanks to Sammy Watkins) threw for 238 yards on 17 pass attempts (he was also sacked four times). The real explanation was probably due to the quarterback play on the other side of the field: with Geno Smith and Michael Vick each turning it over three times, the Bills were happy to run even though (1) they weren’t very good at it (as you would expect) and (2) they were very capable at passing (as you would expect).

Finally, as always, the Game Scripts page has been updated to include last week’s action.

  • in regards to the Packers/Saints game – does a 21 point final margin seem a bit large for a game script of 4.1? Or am I just imagining this?

    • Chase Stuart

      You are correct. I just scrolled though the game scripts page and it looks like the smallest game script of any 20+ point win this year. Although the Chiefs GS from this week stands out about as much, too.