Inside the Numbers: Why Teams Won in Week 8

Wide Receiver Contracts

Each week The 33rd Team analyzes Sunday’s games by looking at more than just wins and losses. We look at specific statistics and game trends that impacted the outcomes of each game. Today, let’s look at the winners:

Carolina Panthers 19 – Atlanta Falcons 13

Panthers Key Stat: 10/17 on Third Down

Despite entering the day as the 28th-best third-down offense (converting only 31.6% of attempts), the Panthers made the most of their opportunities against Atlanta. Although some may argue that a lack of production on early downs contributed to the high number of third downs faced, Carolina put themselves in manageable spots with 150 rushing yards on first and second down and converted 59% on third to leapfrog the Falcons in the divisional standings.

San Francisco 49ers 33 – Chicago Bears 22

49ers Key Stat: 8.6 Yards per Play

When you need only 54 offensive plays to put up 33 points, you’re clearly doing something right. The 49ers dominated Chicago’s defense, averaging 11.5 yards per completion and 5.6 yards per rush despite only benefitting from one Chicago giveaway. Deebo Samuel was excellent after the catch and was barely kept out of the end zone on multiple occasions, while Elijah Mitchell put up backbreaking run after backbreaking run. With an incredibly tough first half of the schedule, the 49ers are starting to round into form and will make waves if their offense can continue to perform to this level.

Pittsburgh Steelers 15 – Cleveland Browns 10

Steelers Key Stat: 3/12 Against on Third + Fourth Down

In an unfamiliar spot at the bottom of the AFC North, the Steelers were faced with a potential season-defining matchup with Cleveland and responded. In the kind of grind-it-out game that Pittsburgh has historically feasted on, they prevailed once again by shutting down Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb in their respective returns from injury. By holding Cleveland to 3/10 on third down and 0/2 on fourth, the Pittsburgh defense got off the field when they needed to and protected their offense long enough to put up the winning points.

Green Bay Packers 24 – Arizona Cardinals 21

Packers Key Stat: 0.120 EPA/Rush

Although most teams actually lose expected points in the run game, both Green Bay and Arizona created value on the ground on TNF. However, Green Bay was much more committed to the run and doubled Arizona’s production with 151 rushing yards to 72 as well as 4 runs of 10+ yards to only one from the Cards. Most of this production was from the stylings of A.J. Dillon, who recorded 78% of his yards after contact while breaking three tackles and picking up six first downs. On a shorthanded day, Green Bay went back to basics and got it done.

New York Jets 34 – Cincinnati Bengals 31

Jets Key Stat: 32 First Downs

As we all expected, the 2018 fifth-round draft pick in his first start outdueled Joe Burrow and the up-and-coming Bengals. Debutant Mike White had himself a day, leading the Jets to 500+ total yards for the first time since 2018 and only the fifth time since Ken O’Brien himself was slinging the ball in the 1980’s. Even better, White put up over 400 yards himself, the team’s first 400-yard passer since a 2000 Vinny Testaverde. All this is to say, the Bengals secondary had no answers and the future looks a bit brighter on the green side of the Meadowlands, at least for the day.

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