It was a nice win for the Ravens against the Texans on Sunday. Lets get down to business and see how it happened.The Win Probability Added (WPA) graph below is from NFL Advanced Stats. The graph plots each teams’ chance of winning over the game’s play-by-play data. At the end of the game the winning team has a 1.0 chance of of winning and the losing team has a 0.0 chance of winning. The BSR Reader’s Guide to understanding WPA graphs is available here. Remember WPA is a narrative statistic not a predictive statistic. Its excellent at telling us about where the game was won or lost but it doesn’t tell us anything about what will happen in the future.

Ravens vs. Texans WPA Graph
  • In short, the game came down to which team made bigger plays in the second half. The Texans had one big play on a Matt Schaub play-action touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones (1). However, the Ravens wound up with three: two in the air and one on the ground. Flacco hit Torrey Smith on a deep ball against Kareem Jackson (2) and Anquan Boldin out-jumped Jonathan Joseph (3) and Ray Rice rumbled free on the game-clinching drive (4).

  • As much as the Rice run felt like the biggest play in the game it wasn’t. Instead the two 3rd quarter Flacco passes (2 and 3) were the turning point. The Flacco pass to Smith was the perfect response to Jacoby Jones’ touchdown. Before the pass, the Ravens had a 42% chance of winning and as Smith reigned it in the Ravens had a 68% chance of winning. Boldin’s catch moved the Ravens chances of winning from 64% to 79%. In actuality the game was already over when Rice broke free (4), the run only moved the WPA from 89% to 93%.
  • With their involvement in those game-changing plays Flacco, Boldin and Smith all showed up on NFL Advanced Stats most valuable players for Week 6. Flacco was the 4th most valuable QB in terms of WPA while Boldin and Smith were 3rd and 5th respectively among WRs.
  • The defense was led by Ray Lewis and Jared Johnson. Lewis completed almost twice as many tackles (1.78) as the average NFL linebacker and was directly involved in 10 different successful defensive plays.