Whenever we round up the most highly leveraged plays every week using Brian Burke's WPA from Advanced Football Analytics, the list is usually littered with late-game turnovers and touchdowns. So it's interesting that Andy Dalton getting picked off by Tampa Bay's Johnthan Banks on the very first play from scrimmage had enough impact to make this week's list. Banks's interception led to a short field goal four plays later, and made Cincinnati fight an uphill battle to get back in the game. As seen in the chart below, the interception reduced Cincinnati's Win Probability 18 percentage points, from 52 percent to 34 percent, and Cincinnati's Win Probability didn't near 50 percent again until near halftime.

In this low-scoring game, which was decided by a single point, the interception giving Tampa an early lead was almost too much to overcome. Cincinnati, which by far has been the superior team this season, didn't have Win Probability titled in its favor until the Bengals were on the verge of a go-ahead touchdown with about two minutes left in the third quarter.


While this week's list is peculiar because it featured three first-quarter plays, Dalton's interception was the only play of the three that could have cost a game, because the Panthers and Colts games weren't close. Dalton's interception, combined with low-scoring production, placed the division-leading Bengals dangerously close to dropping a game against one of the NFL's worst teams.

Below are the most and least helpful plays of the week.

Play Team WPA EPA Qtr Time Down Distance Yd Line
Blake Bortles left rush for 20 yards JAX 0.39 2.05 4 1:27 2 15 45
Josh McCown pass to Bobby Rainey for 29 yards TB 0.32 2.24 4 1:23 2 10 65
Andy Dalton pass to James Wright for 30 yards CIN 0.28 2.66 4 2:37 3 11 81
Kyle Orton pass to Robert Woods for 34 yards BUF 0.25 5.34 3 8:36 4 3 37
Blake Bortles pass to Marqise Lee for 22 yards JAX 0.21 1.89 4 3:21 2 15 85
Bobby Rainey rush for 1 yard TB -0.28 -1.34 4 0:43 1 5 31
Eli Manning pass to Larry Donnell for 3 yards, FUMBLE, RECOVERED by JAX-Aaron Colvin at NYG 41, returned for 41 yard TOUCHDOWN NYG -0.26 -6.51 4 13:09 3 15 57
Brad Nortman punt is BLOCKED and recovered by Adam Thielen at CAR 30, returned for 30 yards TOUCHDOWN CAR -0.18 -5.89 1 7:09 4 5 57
Andy Dalton pass INTERCEPTED by Johnthan Banks at CIN 41, returned for 32 yards CIN -0.18 -5.17 1 15:00 1 10 80
Andrew Luck sacked for -10 yards, FUMBLES, RECOVERED by WAS-Jason Hatcher at IND 15, returned for no gain IND -0.17 -4.9 1 14:55 1 10 76

[Advanced Football Analytics]