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In recent years, there has so much reliance on advanced analytics in determining a team’s relative strength. Before there was equations and algorithms in play, handicappers often looked at the box score to find the details of the game’s story. Even though it may not be considered fancy or fashionable, finding insight in a box score is still really valuable and should be one of the factors a bettor draws assumptions about teams and their opponents. At the conclusion of each game, I always take the time to find those details in the statistics to help shape future decisions. Each week, I’ll share those conslusions with you. Welcome to the Box Score Breakdown.
LAC 24 at KC 27
LAC was the projected winner for a large portion of the game. That quickly changed when Herberts potential go ahead touchdown was intercepted and brought back for a pick 6. For the remainder of the game, KC never had less than an 80% chance to win. KC did end up winning despite an improbable cover by LAC and a hobbled Herbert. In the process, the Chargers outyarded the Chiefs by 82 yards, 100 of which was through the air. KC did have hte edge on YPP, 5.4 to 5.9. KC had twice as many penalties and penalty yardage, but neither of which had much of an impact on the game. Looking at red zone and 4th down efficiency, it is surprising the Chargers didn’t win. They were perfect on 4th down (4 for 4) and were 60% on red zone opportunities (3 for 5). For as ballyhooed as KC’s red zone efficiency is, they were a measly 1-3 in the game. The unsurprising deciding factor was the interception returned for a touchdown. KC won the turnover battle by just 1 (1 to 0), but that was a 14 point swing and completely deflated the Chargers momentum. Turnover differential is more indicative of the outcome than the halftime score.
MIA 42 at BAL 38
With 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter, the Ravens had a 97% win probability. What happened next would have made Matt Ryan and the Falcons blush. The Dolphins scored 4 touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone on their way to victory. Since the Dolphins were trailing for most of hte game (35-14 to start the 4th) it is no big surprise that they outyardaged the Ravens by 74 yards. Both quarterbacks put on a passing display, Tua throwing for 469 and 6 touchdowns and Jackson 318 and 3 touchdowns. Both teams were extremely efficient in the Red Zone (MIA 4-4 / BAL 2-3). Neither defense showed up as the Ravens had 8.8 ypp to the Dolphins 7.9. Both teams were thought to be defense first in the last few years. It’s tough to be overly confident in either defensive group moving forward after this display. Especially since MIA was 7-11 in 3rd down efficiency and 2-2 4th down efficiency. Neither run game was very effective except for a 79 yard run by Lamar and a 28 yard scamper by Chase Edmonds. This game was one big play after another with 5 touchdowns 48 yards are longer. Baltimore won the turnover battle by 2, had a kickoff returned for a touchdown, and still managed to lose the game.
NYJ 31 and CLE 30
Another game with an insane ending. Cleveland had a 99.8% win probability with under a minute left and managed to lose the game outright. AFter scoring a touchdown to seemingly put the game to bed with 1:55 seconds left, Flacco hit Corey Davis on a 66 yard bomb to complete a 2 play scoring drive. After recovering an onside kick, Flacco marched down the field to throw the go ahead touchdown with 22 seconds remaining. 2 plays later, Brissett was intercepted to complete the improbably comeback. Joe Flacco owns the Browns and Robert Saleh is still holding those receipts. The yardage, total plays, and ypp were nearly identical. Browns did more damage on the ground than the Jets (184 to 93), but the Jets, as their name implies, got them through the air (309 to 221). Looking at the box score from turnovers (1 a piece), penalties (8 to 5), 3rd down efficiency (53% to 67%) and Red Zone efficiency (3-4 to 4-5) this was just as about as even as a box score could be. The box score screams of a close game and that’s exactly what we had. Funny how the recovery of an onside kick could have changed the narrative entirely.
NE 17 at PIT 14
Never did the Steelers have more than a 50.9% chance to win the game. In a low scoring game they never trailed, the Patriots came in as 3 point favorites and finished the game the exact same way. Despite the close affair, the Patriots outyarded teh Steelers by 133 and 1.5 yards per play. The Patriots pushed the ball down teh field much more so than the Steelers (7.2 yards per pass to 4.2). The Steelers were able to generate 3 sacks to the Patriots none, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the -1 turnover margin. This is yet another game that seems to have come down to ball security. Neither quarterback will leave bettors excited, but Jones had the better day with 56.5 to 35.4 QBR and a 79.7 to 73.8 QB rating edge. The Steelers run game is also still widely inefficient except on an end around to Gunner Olszewski. If there were rushing yards average props, I’d love to play the under on Najee. Damien Harris did get banged up in this one, which should signal more opportunity for Rhamondre Stevenson moving forward.
IND 0 at JAX 24
Just like we all expected, the Jaguars shut out the Colts (this is sarcasm). The Jags were the favorite to win the game almost from the jump despite being 3 point dogs at kickoff. The Jags had 12 more first downs, won the 3rd down conversion efficiency (40% to 20%) and 4th down conversion (2-3 to 0-2), Red Zone efficiency (2-2 to 0-2) and, perhaps most importantly, the turnover margin (3-0). There were questions if Matt Ryan still had it at his advanced age. The numbers are concerning looking at his 4.7 yards per attempt on only 164 yards passing with a 6.3 QBR, but he was without a couple of important receivers. It is easy to write the Colts off after an 0-1-1 start, but it is important to note that Reich tends to start slow and get better as the year progresses. Trevor Lawrence was extremely efficient going 25/30 for 235, 2 TDs, and a 95.3 QBR / 121.5 QB Rating. There have been some legitimate concerns regarding the early returns of Tank for Trevor, but he was steller in this contest. The Jags run game was less spectacular, only mustering 2.6 yards per carry despite a 37 yard run from James Robinson.
CAR 16 at NYG 19
I felt from the jump that the Giants would win in a close contest. It certainly was a back and game, but for most of the 4th quarter, the Giants were the expected winner. The Giants won the turnover battle recovering 2 fumbles in the first quarter and converted both into field goals. Defensively, the Giants were up to the task, holding the Panthers to 5.1 ypp, limiting Baker to just 145 passing yards, and thwarting the Panthers on 3 of their 4 red zone opportunities and 10 of their 12 3rd down conversion opportunities. Ont he other side of hte ball, the Giants were less bullish only manufacturing 3.8 yards per pla. Jones wasn’t disaster, but wasn’t good either. The dink and dunk offense resulted in a 4.4 yards per pass and allowed CAR to stack the box limiting NY’s rushing game to 3.1 yards per attempt. The difference, like most of the games we will inevitably cover, is the turnover margin. The Giants defense came to play for the second week in a row, which should foreshadow a week 3 play for us.
TB 20 at NO 10
This game looked extremely ugly throughout, perhaps illustrated best by the Evans/Lattimore altercation. The former of which will be suspended for the Bucs Week 3 game for his antics. Despite the Bucs not looking like themselves, they never found themselves in a position where they were less than 42% chance of winning. Brady without much of his receiving corps, particularly after Evans was ejected, looked bad. He finished with 18-34 for 190 yards and a touchdown. But the Bucs were only able to muster 4.0 yards per carry to the Saints 4.7. Both teams were terribly ineffecitient from a 3rd down perspective, finishing 29% and 31% respectively. The biggest takeaway I have from this game is the fact that the Bucs could have easily lost the game, and certainly shouldn’t have covered, despite winning the turnover battle 5-1. Conversely, the Saints were slightly more efficient on offense, but were responsible for the turnovers. Winston himself threw 3 to his old team on Sunday. I’m heavily invested in the Saints in season long wagers. I’m hoping this game was more a product of the turnover discrepancy than their ineffectiveness.
WAS 27 at DET 36
Down 22-0 at half, the Commanders made a run, but never really threated to win the game or even cover. The worst of it was the missed extra point that was indifferent to the conclusion of the game, but absolutely destroyed my personal portfolio because of all the busted teasers. I really thought this was a game that Detroit could have lost considering they haven’t done a lot of winning or had the opportunity to gain experience to hold on to leads. Alas, that was not the case. Washington ran 11 more plays, but manufactured 29 less yards to go with losing the yards per play by 1.5 yards. Both teams were effectively just as efficient through th eair, but the Lions outgained the Commanders by 103 yards on the ground. Only 3 penalties were called and both teams were efficient in the red zone going 3-3 and 4-6 respectively. Again, the team that won the turnover battle, also won the game.
SEA 7 at SF 27
It is rare when I upgrade a team when their starting quarterback gets injured, but when Trey Lance went down, that’s exactly what I did. This wasn’t much of a game by any stretch of the imagination. Offensively, Geno Smith and company didn’t show up. The only points the Seahawks scored was from an 86 yard block field goal returned for a touchdown that, for the moment, had me not covering my in game SF -19.5 I bet live. Thankfully, I was rewarded by SEA’s ineptitude. Lets take a look at the stat disparity. SF had 11 more first downs, 23 more plays, 157 more yards, had one penalty to Seattle’s 10, and won the turnover battle by 3. Even with the upgrade in QB, SF did most of their damage on the ground accumulating 189 rushing yards. There isn’t much to glean from the stats. What you see from the final score is what you get in this one.
ATL 27 at LAR 31
There were 20 possessions in this game. Only 2 of which resulted in punts and one of those was blocked for a touchdown. There were 6 turnovers, 3 by each team, in what could only be categorized as a sloppy, crazy game. Rams had 7 more first downs, 7 more plays, outyarded the Falcons by 76 yards, 0.6 more ypp. Neither team was efficient in running the ball, 3.3 to 2.5 respectively. The passing game was more efficient as the Falcons went 5.9 and the Rams manufactured 7.4 yards per pass. Ultimately this game was won on 3rd downs and in the red zone. The Rams converted twice as many of each category than the Falcons. Kupp, London, and Higbee were great. I’m not sure I can give that accolade to any other offensive player.
HOU 9 at DEN 16
What is wrong with Russell Wilson? He lead the Broncos to 350 total yards, 116 more than the Texans, but he only threw the ball for 219 yards on 14-31, a TD and an INT. The Broncos were 3-12 on 3rd down and 0-2 in the red zone. The Texans weren’t any better going 2-13 on 3rd down and not converting in their only red zone attempt. The penalties were brutal with Houston accumulated 8 for 94 and the Broncos penalized 13 for 100 yards. I don’t trust much about these teams outside of the Broncos defense. Wilson and company may figure it out, but he’s been struggling, even against a team that allowed Matt Ryan to throw for 352 yards last week.
ARI 29 at LV 23
Up 23-7 with just over 8 minutes in the 4th, the Raiders managed to rescue defeat from the jaws of vbictory. The Cardinals scored 3 unanswered touchdowns in the 4th quarter and overtime. The Cards won just about every statistical category: 1st downs (by 8), plays (by 17), yards (by 89 yards), passing yards (by 26), rushing (by 63), and time of possession by 7. The comeback victory was cemented by a fumble recovery that was returned for a 57 yard touchdown. Derek Carr and company was great on 3rd down, converting over half their chances, but simply couldn’t get it done when it mattered most. Both teams had double digit penalties, each had a turnover, and one sack each. The Cards got hot late. The Raiders didn’t. Down 0-2, the Raiders are desperate for a win. I’d typically look to fade the Cards following a win like this, but the line is way off my power ratings and through a key number.
CIN 17 at DAL 20
Just went it looked like Joe Burrow would lead Cincinnati to another comeback victory, the Cowboys managed to stave off defeat with a 50 yard field goal as time expired. The Bengals were down 17-3 at half and scored 14 unanswered points before the game winning kick. Dallas showed much more gumption as their defense carried the day in their first all in effort without Dak. Even without their starting signal caller, they had nearly 2 more yards per play than the Bengals and threw for 65 more yards. The Cowboys defense is legit and should be a concern for the Giants next week, a team who has struggled to manufacture points, particularly in the first half (another foreshadow). Despite Dallas’ defensive effort, the Bengals actually outsacked them by a count of 6-1. Neither team were efficient on third down, but both converted their attempts in the red zone.
CHI 10 at GB 27
Aaron Rodgers stated last year that he owns the Bears. After this contest, he hasn’t bee3n proven wrong. The Pack won the first down battle by 15, were more efficient on 3rd down (1-7 vs 5-9), ran 25 more plays for 186 more yards, and held the ball nearly 15 minutes longer. They outgained the bears 211 to 48 through the air and 203 to 180 on the ground. GB averaged 7.5 yards per pass to the Bears 3.4. One type of offense is more effective than the other (spoiler alert: it isn’t the Bears). It is mindboggling to me that a team that was down by multiple scores throughout the game only passed the ball 11 times. Yet that is exactly what Justin Fields and his 6.7 QBR did. We laid the 9.5 and it was never really in doubt.