Week 11 Details, Angles and Edges

Warren Sharp
·5 min read

Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Football Team

Aside from the game against the Cowboys, Washington has played 8 games this season.

Washington has trailed in every single one of these 8 games at halftime.

Washington has trailed by an average of 11.9 points at halftime.

Washington’s defense is allowing an average of 18.1 first half points.

Washington’s offense has averaged 6.2 first half points in these 8 games:

- 2.1 first quarter points and
- 4.1 second quarter points.

First half points by week:

- Week 10: 3 points
- Week 9: 3 points
- Week 6: 10 points
- Week 5: 10 points
- Week 4: 10 points
- Week 3: 7 points
- Week 2: 0 points
- Week 1: 7 points

Although Washington saw success in a second-half comeback against the Lions last week, keep in mind that the Lions are one of the NFL’s worse second half teams and it’s been that way for years.

Washington must make it a goal to lead at halftime in order to win this game.

Alex Smith is 0-7 in Washington when trailing at halftime.

The Washington franchise is 3-32 when trailing at halftime since 2017.

One way to build a faster lead is to emphasize shorter dropbacks by Alex Smith.

Let’s examine early downs only the last two weeks with Alex Smith as QB.

Washington has used 62 dropbacks from 11 personnel, 6 from 21 and 2 from 12. The drops from 21 and 12 have recorded negative EPA, so let’s focus attention on the bulk of the dropbacks, which are from 11 personnel.

Look at the splits by drop type on these early down passes:

Shotgun 0/1 step drops: 14 drops: 79% success, +0.14 EPA/att, 10.2 YPA, 14% pressure rate
3-step drop: 15 drops: 53% success, +0.08 EPA/att, 9.6 YPA, 20% pressure rate
5-step drop: 23 drops: 61% success, +0.13 EPA/att, 8.5 YPA, 40% pressure rate
7-step drop: 7 drops: 43% success, -0.23 EPA/att, 3.1 YPA, 43% pressure rate

It is clear that the shorter drops result in much less pressure. This should be obvious for any team. But many teams would have higher upside with the deeper drops and increased target depth, in terms of more YPA achieved and more EPA on these deeper drops.

But that has not been the case for Smith. The Washington Offense is far better from a success, YPA and EPA combination to use shorter drops.

The reason to do so would hold regardless of the opponent.

But against the Bengals, it’s particularly valuable because it attacks a weakness.

Examine the Bengals Defense on these same early down passes the last several weeks from 11 personnel:

Shotgun 0/1 step drops: 19 drops: 68% success, +0.59 EPA/att, 9.0 YPA, 0.0% pressure rate
3-step drop: 15 drops: 33% success, -0.01 EPA/att, 6.9 YPA, 20% pressure rate
5-step drop: 1 drop: 0% success, -0.69 EPA/att, 0.0 YPA, 0.0% pressure rate
7-step drop: 0 drops

Over the course of the entire season, the Bengals are allowing early down passes on shotgun, 0/1 step drops to record: 67% success, +0.36 EPA/att, 7.8 YPA, 5:0 TD:INT with a 13% pressure rate on 61 dropbacks with only 1 sack recorded.

They are simply terrible defending the quick pass game.

Considering Washington is at it’s best using it, Washington must reduce the deeper drops.

As mentioned above, Washington has only 14 of 62 shotgun drops from 11 personnel that are 0/1 step drops. That’s only 22.5%. Almost 80% of their drops have been 3, 5 or 7 step drops.

My advice would be to flip that percentage, and use the bulk of passes from 0/1 step shotgun drops from 11 personnel.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars

The biggest note for this game is the Steelers need to avoid the lookahead spot. Next week at home the Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens.

Mike Tomlin has struggled in these spots historically. He is 1-10 ATS as a double digit road favorite against losing teams. He’s lost 5 of these 11 games outright. Against any sub-.500 team, when on the road with any line, Tomlin is 15-29-1 ATS.

The big game for them is next week on Thanksgiving. It’s a short week, and it’s against the Ravens.

The Steelers cannot afford to look past these Jaguars in Jacksonville on Sunday.

New York Jets at Los Angeles Chargers

On first downs in the first half last week, the Chargers called twice as many runs as passes. The results:

Passes: 8.3 YPA, 75% success
Rushes: 2.3 YPC, 13% success

Prior to the 2-minute drill at the end of the first half, the Chargers had 17 run plays and only 8 dropbacks.

Runs averaged just 3.1 YPC.

Mike Williams had zero targets.
Hunter Henry had one target.
Keenan Allen had one catch.

Down 2 TDs in the fourth quarter after the Dolphins scored, the Chargers sequence:

1st down run (2 yards)
Deep shot
Deep shot

I share those items to share this: this coaching staff fails too often to optimize this offense.

It will be fascinating to see how they can perform against the NFL’s worst team, and if they are able to win with any sort of margin, being favored by 10 points.

Under Anthony Lynn, the Chargers are 9-16-1 against the spread at home (36.0%), ahead of only the Giants (28.6%) over that time period.