Over the past year, PFN has been introducing the football community to the Offensive Share Metric (OSM) – a unique way to assess skill positions as it relates to contributions made during each play. Earlier this week PFN contributor, Chase Haynes, showed us how he used OSM to get a leg up on weekly waiver wires on his way to a fantasy league championship. Now, we’ll use it to predict this weekend’s AFC Wild Card matchups – the Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans vs. New England Patriots.
To create a level playing field, we’ll be considering weekly average OSM scores through Week 16 of the NFL season. Since the result of the play is not a factor in OSM, we’ll also consider average points per OSM to predict a final score to each game.
Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans – Saturday, Jan. 4th, 4:35 PM ET
The Buffalo Bills quarterbacks (primarily Josh Allen with an appearance of Matt Barkley in Week 4) have a weighted OSM of 21.6. Deshaun Watson’s is 26.5 for the Houston Texans. Clearly, the Texans have the better quarterback heading into the AFC Wild Card game.
However, the Texans defense has allowed an average OSM of 22.3 to opposing QBs, compared to just 17.5 for Buffalo. Expect Watson to have better numbers statistically than Allen, but Buffalo’s defense will keep the quarterback play close via a turnover or two.
The Texans run defense has been better than the Bills, allowing an OSM of 13.6 compared to 17.5. Carlos Hyde has been mediocre for most of the season with an average OSM of 11.5 but expect him to have a big day against the Bills defense.
Running backs have faced eight men in the box over 36% of the time against the Bills since Week 4 and three of Hyde’s top four performances have been when facing eight men in the box on at least 25% of carries. His highest OSM grade came in Week 5 when he faced eight men in the box on 48% of his carries against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Bills one-two punch of Frank Gore and Devin Singletary, with a weighted OSM of 13.9, should fare well against the Texans defense but is not expected to be a game-changer.
Of the teams playing this weekend, the Bills secondary is allowing the second-lowest OSM (30.9) to opposing receivers, behind only the New England Patriots. This will make it tough for Houston, even though they have more targets than the Bills and are averaging an OSM of 35.4.
Bills receivers should see slight improvement as they’ve averaged an OSM of 31.0 while the Texans secondary has allowed an OSM of 32.8. Keep an eye on Cole Beasley to keep drives going for the Bills, as his yards after catch has been consistently higher than expected, dating back to Week 8.
OSM predicts the Texans (with an expected average OSM of 23.5) will play better than the Bills (22.5) in this Wild Card game. However, when you compare the average OSMs to points scored – for and against – the Bills are gaining 5% more points on the scoreboard. Weighted by the expected OSM for each team, the Bills may steal a win from the 2019 AFC South champion.
AFC Wild Card Prediction: Buffalo Bills 24, Houston Texans 20
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots – Saturday, Jan. 4th, 8:15 PM ET
Ryan Tannehill is heading back to New England to face his old nemesis, Tom Brady, in his first-ever playoff start after the Tennessee Titans grabbed the final wild card spot away from the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17.
The Titans quarterbacks have averaged an OSM of 28.3 this year, which includes Marcus Mariota’s struggles at the beginning of the season. Tannehill alone has an average OSM of 34.4 through Week 16. However, he’s facing the top defense this wild card weekend, where New England is only allowing an OSM of 17.4 on average.
The Patriots defense is forcing opposing quarterbacks to be 4% more aggressive than the league average, with a completion rate of 9% less than the league average and 7% less than expected based on NFL Next Gen Stats.
Through Week 16, they’ve only allowed a completion rate of over 60% five times. It will be interesting to see what they can do against Tannehill, who has completed over 60% of his passes in all games played, averaging 9% higher than expected.
Brady will likely be a game manager in this one. With an average OSM of 19.7 against a Titans defense allowing 23.4 to quarterbacks, expect Brady to play above his regular-season average but not be a difference-maker in the game.
Derrick Henry, fresh off securing the 2019 rushing title, should have another solid game. The Titans have a weighted OSM of 19.1 on the ground, which leads the league. However, the Patriots are right behind them in second place with a weighted OSM of 18.3, led by Sony Michel who has ranked in the top five for running backs in 7 of 12 games in which he qualified for OSM.
In those seven games, Michel faced eight men in the box on 57% of his carries. He was not as efficient of a downhill runner in those games, but his elusiveness increased his average from 3.9 yards per carry to 4.1.
Henry also ranked in the top five for OSM on six occasions. Similarly, he had his best games when facing eight men in the box. In fact, on three occasions in which he finished as the top-ranked running back for the week, he faced eight men in the box 65% of the time. Opposite of Michel, however, Henry was 34% more efficient running downhill when faced with eight men in the box.
Both the Titans and Patriots run defenses have been hovering around average for the year, allowing opposing RBs an average OSM of 12.8 and 13.6, respectively. The Patriots have only played eight men in the box on more than 50% of carries on one occasion this year, against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9, and it did not fare well for them as Mark Ingram was the top-ranked RB that week. The Titans have yet to pressure the run game that much, never topping 43%.
It will be interesting to see what these defenses do, as both teams run the ball better when there is more pressure. Regardless, expect Henry to be more effective for the Titans than Michel for the Patriots in the running game.
Receivers should be matched up well in this game. The Titans receivers have the fourth-highest weighted OSM through Week 16 at 35.8 and are top-ranked for all playoff teams. However, they’re playing the toughest secondary in the playoffs, with the Patriots allowing a weighted OSM of 28.4. Opposing receivers have averaged 53% of completions, but the Titans haven’t had a receiver (who qualified for OSM) have less than a 50% rate since Corey Davis in Week 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Titans defense has allowed an average OSM of 33.8, more than the league average of 30.4. They allow more separation and a higher completion rate than average but limit the missed tackles as yards after catch are lower than expected and below the league average.
The Patriots receiving corps is below average, with an OSM of 30.6, but keep an eye on Julian Edelman in this one. When given more than five yards of cushion at the line of scrimmage, his completion rate jumps from 55% to 70%. The Titans have allowed more than 5 yards of cushion to 67% of targeted receivers.
Statistically, this may be a close game, but the New England defense will deem to be too much for Tannehill and company. Although the Titans offense will play much better than the Patriots per OSM, Brady will do just enough to secure the win, while relying on the legs of Michel and perhaps a broken play or two in the Titans secondary to open the score up.
The Patriots are scoring 26% more points on the scoreboard per OSM so, despite an expected average OSM of 23.8 (Titans) to 23.1 (Patriots), Tannehill will likely remain winless in New England.
AFC Wild Card Prediction: New England Patriots 27, Tennessee Titans 14
For NFC Wild Card Predictions, click here. And for the latest news and NFL updates, be sure to follow Pro Football Network on Facebook and on Twitter @PFN365.