Yesterday, The 33rd Team discussed five winners from Week 8 and what led to each victory. Today, we will be focusing on the other side, analyzing a few of this week’s losers and where they went wrong.
Los Angeles Rams 38 – Houston Texans 22
Texans Key Stat: -0.651 EPA per Offensive Play Through Three Quarters
While Houston’s fourth quarter performance helped make the score and game look more respectable, their performance in the first three quarters ensured that the outcome was never in doubt. With just 90 passing yards and 19 rushing yards, the Texans had only four first downs in that time frame and never really threatened the Rams defense. Combine this with their defense allowing 38 points in those three quarters and the game was not a close contest.
Dallas Cowboys 20 – Minnesota Vikings 16
Vikings Key Stat: 4.7 yards per pass attempt
Kirk Cousins has gotten a reputation for being a checkdown passer, and right or wrong, that was definitely the case in this game. The Vikings passing game had success when they did try to push the ball downfield, competing 5 of 10 attempts on passes of 10+ air yards for 114 yards which accounted for over 60% of their total passing yards for the game on less then 30% of the throws. The short passing game just had no success moving the ball as the Cowboys constantly stopped them, not missing a single tackle in coverage.
New Orleans Saints 36 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27
Buccaneers Key Stat: 3 Turnovers
In a game where the Saints lost starting QB Jameis Winston, the Buccaneers helped them out with three turnovers that directly led to 17 Saints points. Combine that with the Saints having 9 fewer penalties for 89 fewer penalty yards and the Saints simply played a much cleaner game that put them in great position to win despite being outgained. The Buccaneers are incredibly talented and still had a chance to take the lead late in the game, but a Tom Brady interception capped off a sloppy day of football from them and iced the game.
Tennessee Titans 34 – Indianapolis Colts 31
Colts Key Stat: -0.369 EPA per Pass in the 4th Quarter and OT
The Colts got off to a great start, taking a 14-0 lead within eight minutes, but the Titans brought it back close by the start of the fourth quarter. When you have a close game late on, ball security is key, but Carson Wentz threw two extremely costly interceptions: a pick-six late in the fourth that put the Colts behind temporarily and an interception that set up the Titans for the game-winning FG in OT. Even his successful plays in that time were usually DPI calls as he really couldn’t connect with his receivers in a poor finish.
Buffalo Bills 26 – Miami Dolphins 11
Dolphins Key Stat: 43.8% Pressure Rate Allowed
The Dolphins’ OL has had struggles all season in pass protection and this week was no different. They allowed 21 pressures out of 48 dropbacks and those pressures had a severe impact on Tua Tagovailoa, who completed just 7 of 17 attempts against pressure for 91 yards. He was also sacked three times and threw an interception. Tagovailoa wasn’t incredible from a clean pocket, but he was significantly better and able to move the ball. Buffalo’s ability to generate pressure consistently meant those opportunities were not frequent enough for the offense to succeed.