This year's Divisional Round games were pretty boring
The Good, Bad, and the Ugly from this past weekend of NFL football
The 2022 divisional round games don’t hold a candle to last year’s version. We were treated to four heart-pounding games in what turned out to be one of the most epic weekends of football in NFL history. It was punctuated by a Chiefs-Bills OT game that saw a record three go-ahead touchdowns scored in the final two minutes of regulation.
This time around we got…meh. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly actually turned into just ugly.
Let’s do a quick recap anyways, and then move on with our lives.
It all started with Kansas City and Jacksonville at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Chiefs’ high-powered offense was somewhat slowed due to an injury to their on-pace-to-be-GOAT quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Despite hobbling all over the field with a high ankle sprain he stayed in the game — backup Chad Henne led a couple drives before half — and led his team to a 27-20 win over the Jaguars.
Even with the injury to its most important player this game felt like it was Kansas City’s to lose. Jacksonville didn’t even see its win probability get above 44 percent at any point.
GEI rank (this game/all games): 240/281
In what was the worst game of the weekend, and the second worst of the season according to GEI, the Philadelphia Eagles dispatched the New York Giants 38-7. There’s nothing more to write about this game.
GEI rank (this game/all games): 280/281
I had high hopes for this one because Josh Allen and Joe Burrow are two of the most exciting young quarterbacks the NFL has to offer, and it was a bona fide snow game. It was also a feel good story because Damar Hamlin was in attendance for the first time since collapsing on the field due to a cardiac event during a game between the two teams earlier in the month.
But it wound up not being particularly close with Burrow and the Bengals scoring on their first drive and never relinquishing the lead thereafter as they punched their ticket to the AFC Championship game with a 27-10 win over the Bills.
They’ll face the Chiefs in a rematch of the the 2021 championship at Arrowhead.
GEI rank (this game/all games): 245/281
Take your pick from the following football euphemisms to describe the 49ers and Cowboys on Sunday night: a grind, slugfest, dogfight, etc. The 49ers win over old nemesis Dallas wasn’t pretty on the eyes, but it did further the legend of rookie quarterback Brock Purdy. Purdy, famously the last pick in the NFL Draft, has done nothing but lead his team to seven straight wins and into the NFC Championship game. After both quarterbacks ahead of him got hurt during the regular season, Purdy got the nod under center as a third-stringer. We’re still waiting for the fairy tale to end — he’s got to lose at some point, right? But maybe this season will have a storybook ending instead.
Every San Francisco game in its 12-game win streak has seemingly looked like the win probability graph above where the Niners pull away in the second half and never look back. For what it’s worth this was the only game of the weekend above average in GEI due to its tight scoreline.
The Eagles now await them in what should be an epic NFC title game.
GEI rank (this game/all games): 101/281
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Game Excitement Index (GEI) is a way to measure how exciting an individual game is, as the name implies. I calculate it similar to what Luke Benz has done in college basketball. The approach is to sum the absolute value of the win probability change from each play and multiply by a normalized time parameter. This gives us an index by which we can rank each game’s excitement factor. The way to interpret, for example, a Game Excitement Index of 4.0 is that the win probability changed by a total of 400% over the course of that game. The higher the number, the more exciting the game.