5 NFL Stats to Know From Week 14
Things are beginning to clear up in the NFL after 14 weeks of football. The Kansas City Chiefs have clinched the AFC West division title. The Baltimore Ravens are guaranteed a playoff berth for the second season in a row. Matt Ryan became the second-fastest quarterback to reach 50,000 passing yards, hitting the landmark in his 186th game -- Drew Brees is the only player who did it in fewer games as he managed it in 183. All in all, it was quite the week in the NFL.
Here are five interesting stats to know -- both traditional and via our advanced statistics -- from Week 14.
Mitchell Trubisky Averaged 0.32 Passing NEP per Drop Back
I am not here to suggest that the light has come on for Mitchell Trubisky and that all of a sudden, he has become the quarterback many were hoping we would. But you cannot deny that Trubisky has certainly improved over the last few weeks.
This improvement was evident once again on Thursday night, as Trubisky led the Chicago Bears to a 31-24 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Trubisky completed 23 of his 31 pass attempts for 244 yards, 3 touchdowns, and an interception. Trubisky threw for three touchdowns against the Detroit Lions a week earlier and is now one game behind the longest three-touchdown game streak in Bears history. In 1995, Erik Kramer had three games in a row with three passing scores.
Trubisky's efficiency was impressive on the night, according to numberFire's metrics. Trubisky averaged 0.32 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back against the Cowboys, his third-highest mark of the season. His highest was 0.41, which he managed a week ago against the Lions. Between Week 1 and 12, Trubisky averaged -0.04 NEP per drop back. Over the last two weeks, his average has soared to 0.37.
Trubisky will look to keep his touchdown streak going in Week 15 against the Green Bay Packers, but he'll have his work cut out for him. The Packers have only allowed one quarterback to throw for three scores against them in 2019, and that was Carson Wentz all the way back in Week 4.
Jason Sanders Kicked SEVEN Field Goals
Jason Sanders was an unlikely hero in Week 13 when he caught a touchdown pass in the Dolphins win over the Philadelphia Eagles. But he was excelling at his usual task against the Jets in Week 14, namely placekicking. Sanders successfully converted seven of his eight field goal attempts, accounting for all 18 of the Dolphins points on Sunday.
Sanders is one of only seven players in NFL history to attempt at least eight field goals in a single game and the first since Rob Bironas of the Tennessee Titans in 2007. Of the seven, Sanders is the first whose team did not win the game. Sanders is one of ten players in NFL history with at least seven successful field goals made in a game, but the only one who ended up on the losing side.
Fantasy players in need of a weekly streaming option in Week 15 may think about rushing out to acquire Sanders. But Sunday was only the 5th time all season he had attempted more than one field goal in a game. That being said, the Dolphins face the New York Giants, and they've allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to kickers in 2019.
Drew Lock Passed for 300 Yards and Three Touchdowns in his First Road Game
It seems like forever ago that the Denver Broncos had a quarterback that they could trust on a regular basis, instead of a revolving door of mid-level talents and journeymen since the retirement of Peyton Manning. I’m not saying that Drew Lock is 100% the long-term answer, but he certainly made a compelling case on Sunday.
Lock passed for 309 yards, 3 touchdowns, and an interception in Denver's 38-24 win on the road over the Houston Texans. This was the first time in 21 games that the Broncos scored more than 24 points in a game. Lock is the first rookie in the Super Bowl era to pass for at least 300 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first road game. He is also only the third Broncos rookie to pass for 300 yards in a game in his first season, joining Marlin Briscoe (335 against the Buffalo Bills in 1968) and John Elway (345 against the Colts in 1983).
Lock led the Broncos on a seven-play, 92-yard opening drive that ended with a touchdown. In terms of yards, this was their longest opening touchdown drive since Week 11 of the 2005 season. 235 of Lock’s yards came before the half, giving him the most first-half yards by a Broncos quarterback since Manning had 282 against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5 of the 2014 season. Lock’s 309 yards marked just the ninth 300-yard game by a Broncos quarterback since the beginning of the 2016 season. Of those nine games, this was only their third win.
Next up for Lock and the Broncos is a matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, where he may struggle for a repeat performance. The Chiefs have held four of their last five quarterbacks they've faced to 222 passing yards or less.
Austin Ekeler had 100-yards receiving and 100-yards rushing
Austin Ekeler got off to a hot start in 2019 with fellow running back Melvin Gordon out of the picture. Ekeler averaged 14 rushing attempts for 55 yards in games without Gordon, whilst also seeing 6.2 targets per game. But in games with Gordon in the lineup, Ekeler’s numbers dropped to just six rushes per game. Ekeler was able to put those concerns behind him on Sunday, as he had a game for the ages against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ekeler recorded 101 yards on the ground and 112 through the air against Jacksonville, scoring a touchdown on an 84-yard screen pass that became the longest pass play in the career of Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. The touchdown grab was Ekeler’s eighth receiving score of the season, the most ever in a single season by an undrafted running back since the NFL-AFL merger.
Ekeler is only the fourth undrafted running back ever to record both 100-yards rushing and receiving in a game in that period.
Ekeler’s 213 yards from scrimmage are the fifth-most by a running back in 2019, and the second-most by any Chargers back since 2010. Gordon amassed 261 against the Titans in Week 9 of the 2016 season. Ekeler has retained standalone fantasy value even with Gordon to compete with, and he will remain a player to plug into your lineups even facing a stiff Minnesota Vikings defense in Week 15.
Tyler Higbee went over 100 receiving yards again
Prior to Week 13, Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee had exceeded 50 receiving yards twice in his NFL career -- with a high of 98 yards against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 5 of the 2017 season. In his 48-game career, he had seen an average of just under three targets per game for 18.4 receiving yards.
In the last two weeks, Higbee has put together back to back games with 7 receptions and more than 100-yards, with the second of these games coming on Sunday night against the Seahawks. These yards meant that Higbee had become the first Rams tight end with 100-yards in consecutive games in the Super Bowl era.
Higbee's upturn in form has coincided with the absence of his fellow tight end Gerald Everett, who is expected to return soon. Though, if Higbee can remain a big part of the Rams passing game for another week, then he could be once again on the tight end streaming radar in Week 15. The Rams take on the Dallas Cowboys, and the Cowboys have allowed the sixth-most receptions to tight ends this season.