The annotated WPA Graph for Week 17 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. The game was bookended by Ray Rice run’s that made the Ravens heavy favorites in the first quarter and effectively sealed the game in the 4th quarter. Rice will receive the majority of the credit for this win and most of it is well deserved. However, he should share it with the offensive line. On both Rice’s 70 and 51 yard runs Marshal Yanda made a phenomenal blocks on Bengals LB Ray Maualuga. Effectively, the Ravens offensive line was the difference in the game. They were outstanding and decisive in a slugfest up front.
More from the game after the jump.
- Rice was the definition of a boom or bust runner in the game. 63 percent of Rice’s rushing yardage came on touchdown runs of 70 and 51 yards. On his other 22 runs, he gained only two other first downs. However, he was stuffed for no gain or a loss only three times. Big gains are great but non-negative rushes, which are largely a testament to the offensive line, still have value.
- Flacco was not asked to do much on Sunday and it showed in his statistics. Ten of Flacco’s 15 completions failed to pick up a new set of downs. In comparison, Matthew Stafford completed 36 passes, and only nine of them didn’t yield a new set of downs. I had assumed that the absence of Leon Hall in the Bengals secondary would enable Flacco to be more effective throwing the ball, however, Cincy got surprisingly solid play from Kelly Jennings filling in for Hall.
- Baltimore finished as the #7 team in Football Outsider’s DVOA. The Ravens were behind Green Bay, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, New England, Houston and San Francisco. The Ravens had the #1 ranked defense and #12 ranked offense. However, the team was largely hurt by horrific special teams. Out of the 32 teams in the NFL, Baltimore’s special teams ranked 30. It will be interesting to see if poor special teams play comes back to haunt the Ravens in the postseason.
- According to the Football Outsider’s models the Ravens have a 30% chance of playing in the Superbowl and a 13% chance of winning it. A Super Bowl rematch of Thanksgiving Day pitting the Harbaugh brothers against each other has a 7.3% chance of occurring. While I have not formally run any numbers, one has to believe that the Ravens chances for the Super Bowl would be significantly improved if the Texans are able to beat the Bengals on Saturday, setting up a game in M & T for the Ravens against a struggling Houston team with a 3rd string QB.