NFL Expected Points: Week 1 (9/11/17)

By Frank Brank @realfrankbrank
In a bit of a strange week in regards to stat lines for individual players, there weren't too many surprises for win expectancy according to Expected Points, a metric I introduced at the end of last season that we will be using to break down the games each week. For a refresher on how Expected Points works, check out our first publication which explains what we take into account.

As you can see above, every team that was projected to win the game did end up winning the game, outside of the coin flip in Cleveland. With obvious randomness in sports, especially in the NFL, that is not a typical week. There will almost certainly be big upsets as the season goes on that should not have or would not be likely to happen.

I'll break down the odd, or more surprising, outcomes each week as the NFL season continues.

Chiefs 29.6 - Patriots 26.6
The Patriots were a bit unlucky on defense this week. Granted they were still expected to lose with a 43.8% win expectancy, but the game would be typically closer than the 42-27 final score.

Sure, the Chiefs massively outgained the Patriots, but their 139 penalty yards would punish them more on an average week. The Patriots walked down the field on their first drive, going 73 yards on 9 plays, to score a touchdown. On the first play of Kansas City's drive, Kareem Hunt's first carry, the rookie turned the ball over deep in their own end.

In the corresponding possession, the Patriots tried to put the game out of reach early and failed. On a 4th and 1 at the Chiefs' ten yard line, Mike Gillislee was stuffed, and the Patriots turned the ball over on downs. A first down there would have given the Patriots a great chance to go up 14-0.

Cardinals 13.8 - Lions 28.5
Not too dissimilar from the Patriots, the Cardinals had a chance to put the game away early. However, Carson Palmer looked his age, and Arizona was disappointed after another Lions 4th quarter comeback.

The Cardinals outscored their expectancy by nearly ten points. The reason for this was a fortunate pick-six from Lions' quaterback, Matthew Stafford. Outside of the pick, the Cardinals did very little on offense considering the Lions deficiencies on defense. They gained 309 yards, a lower expectation for that offense against Detroit's defense, and turned the ball over four times. Palmer threw three interceptions on 48 pass attempts and essentially took his team out of the game.

Not to mention, David Johnson, Arizona's number one touch player on offense, left with a wrist injury. The results of Johnson's tests early this week may determine their season ahead.

Steelers 12.8 - Browns 12.8
In an effective tie, in terms of Expected Points, the Browns shocked the Steelers. Wins are all that matters in the NFL, but the Steelers underperformed against a team with very little threats on either side of the ball.

The big jump for the Steelers on the scoreboard was due to a blocked punt touchdown on Cleveland's first drive. One could make the argument that Pittsburgh was out-played for the rest of the game.

They only gained 290 yards on offense including 35 yards rushing. Ben Roethlisberger was average, completing 24 of 36 for 263 yards. Antonio Brown caught all 11 of his targets for 182 of thos 263 yards. I am not too concerned with the Steelers' offense, considering their track record, but they'll need to knock the rust off of Le'Veon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger, who each had almost no reps in the preseason, sooner rather than later.