The annotated WPA Graph for Week 15 is shown above. The graph is taken from NFL Advanced Stats, while the annotations are ours. If you are new to WPA graphs please see our WPA Reader’s Guide. Last week against the Colts in the 4th quarter we broke out the picture of Snoopy sleeping to indicate that those plays were inconsequential to determining the outcome of the game. This week, we’re bringing Snoopy back but under less rosey circumstances. Instead of building a lead that couldn’t be overcome, as the Ravens did in Week 14 against the Colts, Poe and Co. were facing an insurmountable lead against the Chargers. The shocking thing is that this game was incredibly close through most of 2 quarters, then in the words of San Diego’s favorite anchorman, “things really got out of hand fast!” With 3:26 left in the first half the Ravens had a 43% chance of winning the game when Joe Flacco inexplicably overthrew an open Ray Rice in the flat. The Ravens punted an San Diego scored a TD closing the half with a 17-7 lead and a 84% chance of winning. More notes from the game after the jump.
- Billy Cundiff’s missed FG on the Ravens first drive was costly. It took the Ravens from being a favorite in the game (57% chance of winning) to an underdog (47% chance of winning). The most troubling factor is that the field goal was only a 36 yarder. Field goals under 40 yards are rarely missed. Cundiff was projected by Football Outsiders to have an accuracy rate of 88% on field golas this season. However, currently he has an accuracy rate of 75%, it may be time to question how healthy Cundiff actually is and how reliable he will be during the Ravens playoff run.
- Joe Flacco’s arm was enigmatic. He’s overthrew and underthrew open receivers, but then somehow capped off the Ravens’ first touchdown drive by threading the needle to Ed Dickson through a tiny window between two Chargers. Later Flacco threw a ball that Chargers corner, Quentin Jammer, should have picked. On the next play, Flacco threw the ball right to Takeo Spikes sitting in the middle of the field. It appeared Flacco was trying to throw it to a receiver who was behind Spikes but somehow missed the guy in an electric blue jersey standing in center of the field.
- The Ravens secondary looked just as pathetic as they did in Week 2 against Kenny Britt and the Titans. After facing excellent offensive lines like Pittsburgh it is incredibly puzzling how Suggs, Ngata and Co. did not get more pressure on Rivers. However, one thing is clear, the Ravens secondary relies on pressure, without it they are very beatable.
- Ultimately, we’re left to attempt to figure out if this Ravens team has a chance to make a run in the playoffs. They’re undeniably good. Against good teams, they play well. Against bad teams inside their division, they play well. At home, they play well. However, put them in a non-divisional road game against a wildly inferior opponent, and they don’t show up. The Ravens are 1-4 in this latter type of games, and 9-0 in all others. At this point it appears if an opponent can build an early lead, to take Ravens out of their ability to play-action, the Ravens have no Plan B. Thankfully, the Ravens play two remaining division games and remain in the driver’s seat to get a bye and play at least one home game in the playoffs.