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:
Baltimore Ravens 34 – Minnesota Vikings 31
Ravens Key Stat: 36 First Downs: 13 First Downs Allowed
For a game that nearly went 70 minutes, the Ravens had far more success on offense than the Vikings. With 500 total yards, including 253 passing and 247 rushing, the Ravens demonstrated how big of an impact two giveaways and a conceded special teams touchdown really have on a game. The Ravens were consistently able to move the chains, never going three-and-out and picking up multiple first downs on almost every drive, strongly contrasting with Minnesota’s 4 three-and-outs. Once again, Baltimore got it done.
Denver Broncos 30 – Dallas Cowboys 16
Broncos Key Stat: 0-4 Conversions Allowed on Fourth Down
With franchise centerpiece Von Miller recently departed from a 4-4 Broncos team, it was astounding to watch Denver jump out to a 30-0 lead over the (previously) 6-1 Cowboys. A pair of garbage-time drives may save delicate sensibilities in Dallas, but the story was Denver’s defense coming up big when it mattered. From stopping Ezekiel Elliott on fourth-and-one on the opening drive to picking off Dak Prescott on fourth-and-seven to truly end the game, Denver deserves a ton of credit for winning every important moment in this one.
Atlanta Falcons 27 – New Orleans Saints 25
Falcons Key Stat: 10.4 Passing Yards per Dropback
Another story of an underdog jumping out to a big lead was the Falcons going up 24-6. The Saints led a furious comeback to regain the lead before Matt Ryan connected with Cordarelle Patterson on a 64-yard pass to set up the game-winning field goal. This completion certainly helps with the average, but Ryan spread the ball around excellently the entire game even without Calvin Ridley. Four receivers gained over 50 yards through the air, including 2019 UDFA Olamide Zaccheaus and his two touchdowns. Even after Saints starting QB Trevor Siemian led three late touchdown drives, it wasn’t enough to beat the 2016 MVP.
Jacksonville Jaguars 9 – Buffalo Bills 6
Jaguars Key Stat: 22 Rushing Yards Allowed to RBs
A third consecutive upset here shows just how crazy the early slate was this weekend. The Jaguars pulled off the win over (what was) the NFL’s top-scoring offense and defense by punishing the pass-first Bills whenever they deviated from the script. Buffalo clearly thought they had an advantage through the air, giving the ball to a RB only once in their first 10 plays, but the Jaguars proved a match for Buffalo’s pass attack and then forced the Bills to stay one-dimensional by dominating the run game. Devin Singletary and Zach Moss combined for 9 carries but only 22 rushing yards, allowing the Jaguars defense to capitalize with three turnovers and win the game.
Indianapolis Colts 45 – New York Jets 30
Colts Key Stat(s): 2 Penalties, 1 Sack, 0 Turnovers, 8.7 Yards per Rush
Against the downtrodden Jets, the Colts played the kind of game that every old-school coach dreams about. They absolutely demolished the Jets on the ground, putting up both the most rushing yards in a game for any team this season and the most yards per carry. Paired with a turnover-free game and only two penalties, Indianapolis buried the Jets and kept a wildcard spot in striking distance. It’s only a matter of time before somebody passes Derrick Henry on this season’s rushing leaderboards, but with 79 fewer carries Jonathan Taylor is only 116 yards away. As long as he’s rolling, so will the Colts.