Remember back a few weeks ago where I was saying that there will be a week soon where everything we think we know about the NFL will get turned upside down. Well, this was that week. I’m sure my colleague will write more about it in his “What Happened in Vegas” column, but by my count there were six road underdogs of at least 5 points that won their games straight up this week.  When there are that many games that go against expectations it will likely mean that the expected game flow also didn’t go as predicted, which was true based on the results of the team projections this week, especially for yardage.

Comparing actual passing yards to my projected passing yards, there were only 10 teams (36%) that fell within 40 yards of their projection, which is the lowest success rate since Week 4. Looking at rushing yards, there were only 13 teams (46%) where the actual yardage came within the 20 rushing yards threshold, which is the worst success rate for the entire season.

Last week when I took a closer look at the touchdown projection success rates so far this year, I said that I was going to look closer at the touchdown projections to try to improve them. Well, this week did see an improvement despite the unpredictable nature of this week’s games. For passing touchdowns, I was able to hit the right number for 11 teams (39%), which was the best since Week 6. Meanwhile, looking at rushing touchdowns, I was able to hit the right projection for 15 teams (54%), which was the highest success rate for the entire season. So, I am encouraged by the touchdown projection improvements and will see if I can improve it even further in a more “normal” week of NFL results.

Here is the Week 10 review…

Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Buffalo Bills 63 33 52.4% 209 1.4 30 47.6% 125 0.8 20.8
New York Jets 67 37 55.2% 238 1.7 30 44.8% 114 1.0 23.0
Actual Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Buffalo Bills 64 31 48.4% 158 1 33 51.6% 148 0 22
New York Jets 59 35 59.3% 193 2 24 40.7% 128 0 17

The Bills ran slightly more often than projected. The passing game fell short of expectations with less passing yardage than projected and one touchdown pass. The running game had more rushing yards than projected but failed to score. The Bills have run over 65% of the time from inside the 10 yard line.

The Jets ran fewer plays than projected with a slight lean more to the passing game than expected. The passing attack fell short of their projected yardage but did get two touchdown passes. The running game slightly exceeded their yardage projection but failed to get a rushing touchdown. The Jets continue to be balanced with a close to 50/50 split between run and pass plays in the red zone this season.

Takeaways:

  • The Bills trend continues of limiting the opposition’s passing yardage, but giving up multiple TD passes continues

Increased Opportunities Review:

  • None, I’ll take the defenses in this game with a slight edge to the Jets defense (+)
    • Both defenses were solid, the Jets had 4 sacks and the Bills had 1 sack, forced 4 turnovers and had a defensive TD

Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Detroit Lions 66 48 72.7% 304 1.7 18 27.3% 73 0.4 18.4
Green Bay Packers 63 34 54.0% 257 2.1 29 46.0% 133 1.2 28.5
Actual Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Detroit Lions 64 38 59.4% 242 2 26 40.6% 45 0 18
Green Bay Packers 82 64 78.0% 333 2 18 22.0% 47 0 16

With the Lions working with a lead in the second half, they went to the ground game more than anticipated. Despite the increased carries, the running game still did not reach their projected yardage and failed to score. The passing game with decreased attempts, fell short of their passing yards projection, but did throw two touchdown passes. The Lions pass over 70% of the time from inside the 10 yard line.

The Packers were forced to go to the air far more often than projected as they tried to come from behind against the Lions. The passing game had significantly more attempts than expected which resulted in more passing yards than projected with two touchdown passes. The running game was ineffective with only 18 attempts for 47 yards and no touchdowns, falling well short of their projection.

Takeaways:

  • Continue to avoid the Lions running game as they continue to not produce even when they get some opportunities
  • Might be time to limit expectations for the Packers offense until they can get back on track

Increased Opportunities Review:

  • James Starks – all signs point to Starks getting the lead RB role in Green Bay this week (++)
    • With Eddie Lacy out, Starks had 15 carries, but could only gain 42 yards, he was involved in the passing game with 6 catches for 54 yards

Dallas Cowboys @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Dallas Cowboys 65 36 55.4% 232 1.7 29 44.6% 116 0.7 21.9
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 63 33 52.4% 234 1.2 30 47.6% 132 1.0 21.8
Actual Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Dallas Cowboys 54 33 61.1% 186 0 21 38.9% 42 0 6
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 66 41 62.1% 262 0 25 37.9% 81 1 10

The Cowboys ran significantly fewer plays than projected as they could not put together many long drives. The passing game fell short of their projected yardage and failed to throw any touchdown passes. The running game was also ineffective with significantly fewer yards than projected and no rushing scores.

The Buccaneers went to the air more often than expected. The increase in pass attempts allowed the passing game to exceed their passing yardage projection, but they failed to throw a touchdown pass. The running game fell short of their projected yardage but did get a rushing score. The Buccaneers have run on over 51% of their plays in the red zone this season.

Takeaways:

  • Tony Romo is expected back next week, look for the offense to improve both through the air and on the ground
  • The Bucs are now more balanced between the run and pass inside the 10 yard line

Increased Opportunities Review:

  • Matt Cassel chance for 2nd TD pass (++)
    • Cassel had zero touchdown passes
  • Doug Martin likelihood for a rushing TD (++)
    • The rushing score for the Bucs came from Jameis Winston, not Martin

Carolina Panthers @ Tennessee Titans

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Carolina Panthers 64 31 48.4% 214 1.7 33 51.6% 137 1.1 24.2
Tennessee Titans 69 42 60.9% 249 1.4 27 39.1% 111 0.7 19.6
Actual Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Carolina Panthers 65 31 47.7% 217 1 34 52.3% 119 2 27
Tennessee Titans 46 25 54.3% 185 0 21 45.7% 64 1 10

The Panthers play distribution fell in line with their projection. The passing game finished close to their projected passing yards, but only threw one touchdown pass. The running game fell just short of their projected yardage but scored two rushing touchdowns. The Panthers continue to pound the ball on the ground inside the 10 yard line with over 65% running plays this season.

The Titans had significantly less offensive plays than projected. The decrease in overall plays resulted in fewer passing yards and rushing yards than projected. The Titans only score came on the ground. The Titans have passed the ball over 60% of the time in the red zone this season.

Takeaways:

  • The Titans ran the ball more often than anticipated, could be due to the new head coach, continue to monitor

Increased Opportunities Review:

  • None, give me the Panthers defense (+)
    • The Panthers defense was solid, only allowing 10 points with 1 sack and forcing 2 turnovers

Chicago Bears @ St. Louis Rams

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Chicago Bears 67 38 56.7% 234 0.9 29 43.3% 109 0.7 17.9
St. Louis Rams 60 29 48.3% 205 1.4 31 51.7% 163 0.8 22.5
Actual Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Chicago Bears 63 26 41.3% 258 3 37 58.7% 153 1 37
St. Louis Rams 59 38 64.4% 200 0 21 35.6% 94 1 13

With the Bears out to a big lead, they went to the running game more often than projected. The passing game still put up more yardage than projected and three touchdown passes thanks to some big plays. The running game with the increased workload produced more yardage than projected to go along with one rushing score. The Bears have an even 50/50 split of run and pass when they are inside the 10 yard line.

The Rams were forced to go to the air more often than projected as they trailed for most of the game. Even with the increased pass attempts the Rams passing game fell just short of their projected yardage and failed to throw for a touchdown. The running game saw limited carries and, as a result, fell far short of their projected rushing yards, but they did manage a rushing score. The Rams run the ball almost 62% of the time inside the 10 yard line.

Takeaways:

  • The Bears defense appears to be improving as the season goes along, especially against teams without an elite QB
  • The Rams struggle in games that they fall behind because their passing game is very ineffective

Increased Opportunities Review:

  • Todd Gurley (++)
    • Gurley only had 12 carries as the Rams fell behind, but he did manage 89 total yards and 1 TD to still have a decent game
  • Nick Foles and the Rams passing game (Tavon Austin) (+)
    • Foles only threw for 200 yards despite more attempts than projected, Austin only had 5 touches for a total of 23 yards

New Orleans Saints @ Washington Redskins

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
New Orleans Saints 67 42 62.7% 323 2.0 25 37.3% 110 0.9 25.1
Washington Redskins 65 40 61.5% 287 2.1 25 38.5% 108 0.7 25.4
Actual Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
New Orleans Saints 55 30 54.5% 209 2 25 45.5% 158 0 14
Washington Redskins 59 28 47.5% 324 4 31 52.5% 225 0 47

The Saints ran fewer plays than projected and went to the ground at a higher rate than expected. The passing game fell far short of their projected yardage but did throw two touchdown passes. The running game put up more yardage than expected but failed to score. The Saints run the ball over 51% of the time in the red zone.

The Redskins ran the ball more often than projected. Despite fewer pass attempts than projected the Redskins passing game was very effective throwing for more passing yard than expected along with four touchdown passes. The running game was also very effective with the increased attempts resulting in more than double their projected yardage, but without a rushing touchdown.

Takeaways:

  • Continue to start opposing quarterbacks against Saints until they can prove they can stop it
  • The Redskins offensive explosion was more about the opponent (Saints) than it is about their potential

Increased Opportunities Review:

  • Kirk Cousins and the Redskins passing game (Jordan Reed) (+++)
    • Cousins threw for 324 yards and 4 TDs, Reed had only 29 receiving yard but had 2 TD receptions

Miami Dolphins @ Philadelphia Eagles

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Miami Dolphins 66 44 66.7% 304 1.8 22 33.3% 103 0.6 20.1
Philadelphia Eagles 69 39 56.5% 278 1.8 30 43.5% 140 1.1 25.2
Actual Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Miami Dolphins 66 40 60.6% 217 2 26 39.4% 99 0 20
Philadelphia Eagles 88 52 59.1% 392 1 36 40.9% 83 1 19

The Dolphins passed slightly less often than projected. The passing game threw for significantly less yardage than projected but did get two touchdown passes. The running game fell in line to their projected rushing yards but failed to score on the ground. The Dolphins have passed 64% of the time in the red zone this season.

The Eagles ran significantly more plays this week than projected which resulted in more passing and rushing attempts than expected. The increased passing attempts resulted in significantly more yardage than projected, but with only one touchdown pass. The running game was not as effective with significantly less yardage than projected, but they did get a rushing score. The Eagles run the ball 59% of the time from inside the 10 yard line.

Takeaways:

  • The Dolphins are definitely more run focused with their new coach then they were before he took over
  • Despite the game being close the Eagles passed at a higher clip than projected

Increased Opportunities Review:

  • Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins passing game (Rishard Matthews) (+)
    • Decent game for Tannehill with 217 yards and 2 TDs, Matthews had 5 catches for 93 yards
  • Sam Bradford and the Eagles passing game (Jordan Matthews) (++)
    • Bradford had 236 yards and 1 TD before leaving with an injury, Matthews only had 3 catches for 21 yards

Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Cleveland Browns 66 42 63.6% 276 1.8 24 36.4% 88 0.3 18.7
Pittsburgh Steelers 65 35 53.8% 250 1.4 30 46.2% 142 1.1 23.4
Actual Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Cleveland Browns 65 51 78.5% 372 1 14 21.5% 15 0 9
Pittsburgh Steelers 59 38 64.4% 402 3 21 35.6% 60 0 30

Johnny Manziel got the start for the Browns and they went to the air far more often than anticipated. As a result of the extra pass attempts the passing game put up significantly more yardage than projected, but only threw one touchdown pass. The running game was very ineffective with only 14 carries for 15 yards. The Browns have passed over 70% of the time from inside the 10 yard line this season.

The Steelers passed more often than projected as Ben Roethlisberger was forced into the game with Landry Jones getting injured in the first quarter. With Roethlisberger behind center, the Steelers passing game was very effective throwing for over 400 yards and three touchdowns. The running game, with limited carries, fell far short of their projected yardage and failed to score.

Takeaways:

  • With Manziel named the starter going forward, watch to see if the Browns let him pass with the frequency that he did on Sunday or if it was just because of the game flow. I have a feeling they are going to let him rip.
  • Watch for the Steelers to continue to throw the ball at a high rate with Roethlisberger over the rest of the season.

Increased Opportunities Review:

  • DeAngelo Williams (the numbers only say a slight increase, but I expect more) (++)
    • Williams was ineffective with only 54 rushing yards

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Baltimore Ravens

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Jacksonville Jaguars 67 43 64.2% 291 2.2 24 35.8% 91 0.3 22.5
Baltimore Ravens 69 42 60.9% 294 1.7 27 39.1% 101 1.0 25.0
Actual Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Jacksonville Jaguars 70 48 68.6% 188 2 22 31.4% 90 0 22
Baltimore Ravens 67 46 68.7% 316 3 21 31.3% 89 0 20

The Jaguars play distribution was close to their projection. The passing game fell far short of their projected yardage but did throw two touchdown passes. The running game almost matched their projected yardage and did not score. The Jaguars have passed over 62% of their plays in the red zone.

The Ravens passed more often than projected. The passing game was effective with slightly more yardage than expected and three touchdown passes. The running game falls just short of their projected yardage but failed to score. The Ravens pass 60% of the time when they are in the red zone.

Takeaways:

  • None

Increased Opportunities Review:

  • Blake Bortles and the Jaguars passing game (Allen Robinson) (+)
    • Bortles only had 188 yards and 2 TDs, Robinson was solid with 5 catches for 51 yards and 1 TD
  • Joe Flacco and the Ravens passing game (Kamar Aiken or maybe Justin Forsett out of the backfield) (+)
    • Big day for Flacco with 316 yards and 3 TDs, Aiken had 7 catches for 73 yards, Forsett only had 4 catches for 11 yards

Minnesota Vikings @ Oakland Raiders

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Minnesota Vikings 68 36 52.9% 230 1.1 32 47.1% 129 0.9 21.4
Oakland Raiders 63 39 61.9% 266 2.0 24 38.1% 112 0.6 22.7
Actual Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Minnesota Vikings 59 26 44.1% 140 1 33 55.9% 263 1 30
Oakland Raiders 64 45 70.3% 302 2 19 29.7% 84 0 14

The Vikings were able to run the ball more often than projected as they worked with a lead. The running game was very effective with twice as many yards as projected to go along with one rushing score. The passing game with limited attempts was significantly short of their projected yardage but did throw one touchdown pass. The Vikings run the ball almost 62% of the time from inside the 10 yard line.

The Raiders went to the passing game with greater frequency than projected. With the increased volume, the passing game threw for more yards than projected with two touchdown passes. The running game fell short of their projected yardage and failed to score. The Raiders have passed over 60% of the time in the red zone this season.

Takeaways:

  • The Vikings will run the ball every chance they get when they are working with a lead

Increased Opportunities Review:

  • Teddy Bridgewater and the passing game (+)
    • Bridgewater only had 22 attempts for 140 yards and 1 TD

Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Kansas City Chiefs 65 39 60.0% 217 1.0 26 40.0% 103 1.0 18.6
Denver Broncos 65 40 61.5% 284 1.7 25 38.5% 103 0.6 22.2
Actual Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Kansas City Chiefs 65 33 50.8% 204 1 32 49.2% 106 1 29
Denver Broncos 65 49 75.4% 181 1 16 24.6% 69 1 13

Working with a lead, the Chiefs were able to focus on the ground game more than expected. The passing game performed in line with the projection for both yardage and touchdowns. The running game also nearly matched the projection in yards and with one touchdown on the ground. The Chiefs have run the ball over 56% of the time from inside the 10 yard line.

With the Broncos trailing, they were forced to go to the air far more often than expected. Despite the increased pass attempts the passing game was very ineffective with both Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, as they threw for significantly fewer yards than projected and only one touchdown pass. The running game only saw 16 attempts which resulted in less rushing yards than projected, but they did manage to score on the ground.

Takeaways:

  • The Chiefs running game continues to perform well
  • With Manning out next week, look for the offense to focus more on the running game

Increased Opportunities Review:

  • Peyton Manning and the Broncos passing game (Demaryius Thomas) (+)
    • Manning was horrible with only 35 yards and 4 interceptions before being removed, Thomas managed 7 catches for 71 yards
  • Broncos Defense (+)
    • The Broncos defense only had 2 sacks and didn’t force any turnovers

New England Patriots @ New York Giants

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
New England Patriots 69 44 63.8% 347 2.6 25 36.2% 108 0.8 29.9
New York Giants 65 41 63.1% 277 2.1 24 36.9% 104 0.4 22.2
Actual Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
New England Patriots 68 45 66.2% 334 2 23 33.8% 77 1 27
New York Giants 70 47 67.1% 361 2 23 32.9% 80 0 26

The Patriots play distribution was close to their projection. The passing game performed in line with their projected yardage, but only had two touchdown passes. The running game fell short of their projected yardage but did score a rushing touchdown.

The Giants passed slightly more often than projected. The passing game exceeded their expected yardage and threw for two touchdowns. The running game fell short of their projected yardage and failed to score as anticipated. The Giants pass the ball over 61% of the time from inside the 10 yard line.

Takeaways:

  • None

Increased Opportunities Review:

  • Tom Brady and the Patriots passing game (Gut Call: Rob Gronkowski goes off, this is not the week to fade him) (+)
    • Brady threw for 334 yards and 2 TDs, Gronkowski had 5 catches for 113 yards and 1 TD
  • Eli Manning and the Giants passing game (Odell Beckham Jr., I could also see Shane Vereen with a good day receiving) (+)
    • Manning threw for 361 yards and 2 TDs, Beckham had 4 catches for 104 yards and 1 TD, Vereen only had 2 catches for 12 yards

Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Arizona Cardinals 61 35 57.4% 245 1.6 26 42.6% 105 0.8 21.7
Seattle Seahawks 64 33 51.6% 245 1.6 31 48.4% 151 0.4 21.1
Actual Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Arizona Cardinals 84 51 60.7% 363 3 33 39.3% 117 1 39
Seattle Seahawks 52 34 65.4% 240 1 18 34.6% 115 2 32

The Cardinals ran significantly more offensive plays than expected. The increased volume allowed the passing game to throw for significantly more yardage than projected to go along with three touchdown passes. The running game only slightly exceeded their rushing yardage projection to go along with one rushing score. The Cardinals pass over 57% of the time when they are inside the 10 yard line.

The Seahawks ran significantly fewer plays than projected and passed at a higher rate than expected. The passing game production fell in line with their projected yardage but only threw one touchdown pass. The running game with limited attempts fell short of their projected yardage but scored two rushing touchdowns. The Seahawks have run the ball over 55% of the time inside the 10 yard line this season.

Takeaways:

  • The Cardinals passing game continues to be strong even in a tough matchup
  • The Seahawks passing game continues to have very limited upside

Increased Opportunities Review:

  • Russell Wilson and the Seahawks passing game (+)
    • Wilson threw for 240 yards and 1 TD
  • I also like the Kickers in this one (+)
    • Both were solid, Catanzaro had 13 points and Hauschka had 8 points

Houston Texans @ Cincinnati Bengals

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Houston Texans 69 45 65.2% 273 1.6 24 34.8% 97 0.4 18.5
Cincinnati Bengals 65 33 50.8% 252 2.1 32 49.2% 139 1.2 27.5
Actual Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Houston Texans 61 36 59.0% 192 1 25 41.0% 82 0 10
Cincinnati Bengals 62 41 66.1% 197 0 21 33.9% 73 0 6

The Texans ran the ball slightly more often than projected. The passing game threw for significantly fewer yards than projected and only one touchdown pass. The running game was slightly less effective than projected and didn’t score. The Texans pass the ball over 60% of the time in the red zone.

The Bengals passed significantly more often than expected. Despite the extra attempts, the passing game still fell short of their projected yardage and failed to throw any touchdown passes. The running game with decreased attempts finished with significantly fewer yards than projected and also failed to score.

Takeaways:

  • The Texans defense stepped up this week, they were expected to be a good defense at the start of the year, watch to see if the trend continues next week
  • Second time in recent weeks that the Bengals passed more often than expected despite playing in a close game, continue to monitor

Increased Opportunities Review:

  • Bengals running game (I give the slight edge to Giovanni Bernard over Jeremy Hill due to Bernard’s pass-catching upside) (+)
    • Bernard finished with 36 rushing yards and 43 receiving yards, Hill only had 15 rushing yards
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