By Justin Henry
Cold Hard Football Facts' Dr. Death (@jrhwriting)
We run through the signature statistical reason for each team's win or loss each week here at CHFF Insider.
WINNER: SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
San Diego finds themselves very much alive by winning three out of four, and none bigger than their upset of Denver at Mile High. The Chargers killed in time of possession, particularly in the third quarter, and controlled nearly two-thirds of the game at 38:49 with the rock.
LOSER: DENVER BRONCOS
With a chance to advance certain top seed hopes, the Broncos made too many mistakes, and got bullied around by the urgent Chargers. Denver uncharacteristically went only two of nine on third down, ran for a mere 1.64 YPA, and Peyton Manning threw a poorly-timed pick.
WINNER: MIAMI DOLPHINS
The Dolphins single-handedly eliminated four hopeless AFC teams from playoff contention, via Marcus Thigpen's late touchdown. Ryan Tannehill led with a strong performance, despite taking four sacks, with a 120.55 passer rating, on three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
LOSER: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The Dolphins wound up allowing 453 yards to the Gronk-less Patriots, yet only gave up 20 points. New England settled for two Stephen Gostkowski field goals while inside the ten, and their kicker missed a third, squandering those yards to the tune of a 22.65 Scoreability rating.
WINNER: BUFFALO BILLS
The game was ultimately futile, by way of the Dolphins victory, but it was a nice see-saw duke for the Bills. The Buffalo defense deserves their share of credit in the win, forcing four turnovers, including two Chad Henne picks, and two fumble takes, coming out +2 on the day.
LOSER: JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Henne had his chances to go shot for shot with EJ Manuel, and the Jags did indeed tie the game at 20 early in the fourth. His uneven performance gets heavy blame, as two interceptions stifled Jacksonville drives, leaving the lesser of two QB evils in Jacksonville with a 73.50 passer rating.
WINNER: INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
The inconsistent Colts can't do any worse than fourth seed in the AFC, but a win over the NFL's punching bag serves to steady some nerves. Indy's defense did a number on Case Keenum, sacking him four times, and holding him to a measly 3.47 Real Passing Yards Per Attempt.
LOSER: HOUSTON TEXANS
Decent efforts from Ben Tate and Deji Karim (a combined 4.65 rushing YPA) were the lone highlights of another miserable day for the Texans. The offense packed no wallop beyond that, going five of 15 on third down, and gave up a Negative Pass Play on ten percent of dropbacks.
WINNER: MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Perhaps someone can explain why Matt Cassel hasn't been starting all season. The aging journeyman completed nearly three quarters of his passes, and averaged 9.74 Real Passing Yards Per Attempt, thanks to making a number of accurate deep throws.
LOSER: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
In addition to barely running with LeSean McCoy (eight carries, 38 yards), the Eagles looked highly tentative in other areas, including squibbing kicks to avoid Cordarrelle Patterson. With shorter fields, the Eagles gave up 9.48 yards per point scored, a Bendability killer.
WINNER: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
The Seattle defense goose-egged Eli Manning and the Giants, after Seattle's offense was largely held to field goals in the early going. The shutout was fueled by a one-sided turnover battle, as the Seahawks picked off Manning five times, while Russell Wilson conceded only one.
LOSER: NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants offense was more out of sync than a broken iPod, unable to look the least bit strong in a meaningless battle. New York ran for a mere 1.79 YPA, converted only one of ten third down attempts, and surrendered a Negative Pass Play on 25.71 percent of dropbacks.
WINNER: SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
For once, the 49ers offensive looked absolutely and indisputably punishing, and it was against a Buccaneers team allowing just 4.10 yards a run. By rushing for 4.68 YPA (187 yards on 40 carries), the 49ers used a heaping amount of clock, 39:50 to be exact.
LOSER: TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
The Eric Page fumble was a portrait of the Bucs 2013 season at its most pathetic, and the game as a whole was closer at times than it should've been. Tampa converted just one of ten third downs, ran for 3.25 YPA, and gave up a Negative Pass Plays on 12.82 percent of dropbacks.
WINNER: CHICAGO BEARS
Alshon Jeffery continues to be an athletic marvel, aiding the Bears' win on a day where Jay Cutler had to prove himself. Cutler mostly stood tall in the face of a chops-licking Browns pass rush, throwing for 7.91 Real Passing Yards Per Attempt on a windy day.
LOSER: CLEVELAND BROWNS
Cutler was indeed too defiant for the liking of Ray Horton's defense, converting nine of 14 third down attempts. The opportunities worked Chicago's way in giving themselves chances to come back and win, as Cleveland was only able to possess for 25:12 (three of nine on third down).
WINNER: ATLANTA FALCONS
The Falcons forced seven turnovers in a game for the first time since November 6, 1988, and even then, the Redskins nearly won on a two point conversion. It's fair to say that, given the +5 win in takeaways, the Falcons would have likely lost if not for the timely steals.
LOSER: WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Lots of negative attention on the situation with Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan, and now this sloppy performance (including five lost fumbles) will be heaped onto the pyre. Because of the mistakes, the Redskins averaged a lousy 18.31 yards per point scored.
WINNER: CAROLINA PANTHERS
Hope for an NFC South title has been restored, thanks to a Panther win and a stunning Saint loss. For his part, Cam Newton frozen-roped the Jets defense with a boldness befitting of Carolina's surge; Super-Cam averaged 10.04 Real Passing Yards Per Attempt.
LOSER: NEW YORK JETS
Losing the turnover battle one to nil is one thing; losing it when that turnover directly cashed in for points is something else entirely. Geno Smith threw only one pick, but it was a Captain Munnerlyn pick-six, when the Jets were down 23-13. That's a costly turnover battle.
WINNER: KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
The Chiefs scored 56 points, the most ever allowed by the Raiders in their 54 season history. Thanks to a slew of Raider turnovers, including an Eric Berry pick-six, the Chiefs cruised to those 56 points on 461 yards gained, for a lofty Scoreability rating of 8.23.
LOSER: OAKLAND RAIDERS
The Raiders turned the ball over seven times, the most by the team since December 6, 1998. Such a hefty price to have to pay, including five picks (four from Matt McGloin, one from Terrelle Pryor), against just one lost fumble from the easy-winning Chiefs.
WINNER: ARIZONA CARDINALS
The Cardinals playoff hopes are far from certain, but they can enjoy the consolation prize of knocking out the Titans. En route to the overtime win, Arizona enjoyed a steady offense, behind 4.03 YPA rushing, six of 12 on third down, and just two sacks in 32 dropbacks.
LOSER: TENNESSEE TITANS
Ryan Fitzpatrick deserves credit for leading the 17-point fourth quarter comeback, but he'll get all the blame for his overtime interception. The Titans defense let the game get out of hand, allowing Arizona to score a point every 9.73 yards allowed, and showing no resistance.
WINNER: GREEN BAY PACKERS
Somewhere, Frank Reich would like to shake Matt Flynn's hand, along with a bevy of Eagles fans. Flynn erased a middling first-half performance to score five touchdowns in the second half, cashing in with a happy and healthy 11.70 Scoreability rating.
LOSER: DALLAS COWBOYS
It was the largest halftime lead that Dallas has held, and then lost after blowing: 23 points. Monte Kiffin's defense folded like Superman's laundry, allowing seven of 13 third downs to convert, as well as 5.56 YPA rushing, and only got three Negative Pass Plays in 42 dropbacks.
WINNER: ST. LOUIS RAMS
Call it a colossal upset, but the Saints have never beaten Jeff Fisher in their five matchups. Shockingly, the Rams won the turnover battle on the day, including forcing two Drew Brees picks. The three takeaways were complimented by not turning the ball over once themselves.
LOSER: NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
A poor third-down percentage (five of 15) and the three killer turnovers grounded the Saints' potent air attack. In all, New Orleans gained 432 yards, and could only score 16 points, for a Scoreability rating of an even 27.00. Garrett Hartley's missed final kick says it all.
WINNER: PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Once the Steelers built a 21-0 lead after Antonio Brown's punt-return score (a play Ken Huber won't forget, or possibly remember), there was little chance Cincy had of rebounding. The Steelers posted a 9.67 Scoreability rating, aided heavily by the return touchdown.
LOSER: CINCINNATI BENGALS
The slow start factored heavily into the Bengals loss, when a win would have brought them into the second seed, with a tiebreaker over New England. Andy Dalton couldn't make the dissections needed, averaging just 4.93 Real Passing Yards Per Attempt in Pittsburgh.