Jacksonville Jaguars Advanced Stat of the Week: Win Probability

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistFebruary 21, 2013

Shorts shushes fans in Indianapolis.
Shorts shushes fans in Indianapolis.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Exciting isn't a word often used to describe the 2012 Jacksonville Jaguars, but they did participate in three of the wildest games of the season.

Win Probability and its player-driven cousin Win Probability Added (WPA) are stats advanced by Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats. Win Probability calculates the likelihood that a team will win the game before each and every play. WPA adds up the impact that an individual player has on those odds.

For instance, a team with a 40-point lead with 45 seconds to play has a Win Probability of 100 percent. Win Probability is a stat that explains what happened after the fact. Swings in Win Probability illustrate which plays had the most impact on a game.

These plays can be charted to produce a graphical representation of the swings of NFL games. For games with twists and turns, these charts can be dynamic.

The Jaguars had three thrillers last season, but won only one.

Perhaps the team's best game of the season was a loss to the Houston Texans. In the game that cost them Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne came in and nearly pulled off a stunning upset.

The Jags boasted a 96 percent chance of winning with just over 11 minutes to play before allowing the Texans to rally. Then, they almost lost in regulation and overtime as Houston's odds topped 96 percent twice.

With five minutes to play in overtime, the Jaguars moved the ball inside the Houston 10, and had a 99 percent chance of pulling the upset. They settled for a game-tying field goal however, and the Texans eventually won.

Drama was the order of the day in the season opener as well. The Jaguars had just a one percent chance of winning before Gabbert hit Cecil Shorts for a long score with seconds left. Inexplicably, the Jags then blew a 96 percent chance of victory by allowing a Vikings' 55-yard field goal as time expired.

The Jaguars' first win of the year caused its own share of heart palpitations. At half time of their game in Indianapolis, the Jaguars trailed 14-3 and had just a 12 percent chance of coming away with a victory.

They rallied behind a long run from Maurice Jones-Drew and found themselves with the ball and an 88 percent chance of winning with just two minutes to go. Those odds plummeted once they were stopped on three plays and Andrew Luck went to work.

After a field goal drive by Luck with just over a minute left put the Jags down 17-16, Jacksonville had a 15 percent chance of winning. Of course, Gabbert found Shorts again, this time for 80 yards as the Jags erased their deficit in a single play.

Even in the midst of the worst season in franchise history, the Jaguars showed why the NFL is still the best entertainment bang for the buck. These three games don't even include narrow losses to the Packers and the Raiders (in overtime!).

The counter balance to the thrills of near-misses on the road was the flat-line graphs of the Jaguars' home games. Compare the roller-coaster lines of the games already mentioned to this string of blowouts at home.

Had the Jaguars put on a better show for the home crowds, perhaps Mike Mularkey would still have a job.