NFL 2023 Week 8 Games Expected Points Matrix

NFL 2023 Week 8 Games – Expected Points Matrix

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Introducing the new NFL 2023 Week 8 Expected Points Matrix.  This will be a new weekly feature that shows the Expected Points matchups between each team’s offense and defense.  Since Expected Points is used in the Algorithm, let’s start with a simple explanation of what it is.

Expected Points is effectively a score given to the result of a given play based on the territory gained or lost.  If there is a turnover there are additional points lost(Offense) and gained(Defense).  Let’s look at a simple example.  I am making up the amount of EP gained or lost on each example, the actual EP gained/lost on these play examples is different but it is the concept we are illustrating, not the calculation.

Assume you had the ball on your own 25 and threw a 5 yard pass. The ball is now at the 30. Moving the ball from your 25 to your 30 is worth X amount of points based on years of data. When a team was at its own 30 on that down(2nd in this case) how often did that result in points? That fractional measurement of points is the EP for the play. This is a super simple explanation without getting into details.

The reason for this is simple enough.  The chance of scoring a touchdown increases as you get closer to the opponent’s endzone.   The chance of an NFL team scoring when on its own 25 may be 18%.  The chance of scoring once it reaches its own 30 may be 20%.  Thus because the offense has increased its chance of scoring, it generated positive EP.  They would expect more points whenever they were on their own 30 as opposed to their own 25.  For defense, just reverse the thought.  Any time the defense pushes the offense back, creates a turnover, or change in possession, it can/will score positive points(and the offense, by very nature, loses them).

So moving from your 25 to your 30 may be worth 0.1 EP. If your QB were sacked the next play back to the 20, it may be worth -0.3 EP. A bomb on third down to the opposing 48 and a 1st down might be worth 1.0EP….Remember both the offense and the defense are earning EP every play and they offset.  If the offense just gained 0.2 points of EP, the defense just lost it.

If you do this for every play on offense and defense you will get a resultant EP value for each side of the ball. So essentially it is again measuring territory gained and lost, but then converting it in Expected Points.  Expected points is cumulative over the course of the season, so great offenses and defenses will have high positive EP, and poor offenses and defenses will have negative EP(the worse it is, the more negative the EP rating).

The Expected Points Matrix

NFL 2023 Week 8 Games Expected Points Matrix
NFL 2023 Week 8 Games Expected Points Matrix – The chart is color coded(red=poor green=good) to help identify mismatches.


Taking what we know about EP, we can now use it to forecast the matchups between opposing offense/defense matchups.  For each game the HOME TEAM is listed first.  Here are the acronyms used:

  • APO = Away Pass Offense vs HPD = Home Pass Defense
  • HPO = Home Pass Offense vs APD = Away Pass Defense
  • ARO = Away Rush Offense vs HRD = Home Rush Defense
  • HRO = Home Rush Offense vs ARD = Away Rush Defense

So all we are doing is Offense EP – Defense EP.  This works because both offensive and defensive positive EP is the sign of a strong unit.  The first game on the slate will show an example of how this works.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Buffalo Bills


26.51 -23.7 -25.54 19.81


66.2 -2.3 16.42 -1.34

So let’s walk through all 4 calculations:

APO vs HPD (Bucs Pass Offense vs Bill Pass Defense)
= 26.51 – -2.3 = 26.51 + 2.3 = 28.81

HPO vs APD (Bills Pass Offense vs Bucs Pass Defense)
= 66.2 – -23.7 = 66.2 + 23.7 = 89.9

ARO vs HRD (Bucs Rush Offense vs Bill Rush Defense)
= -25.54 – -1.34 = -25.54 + 1.34 = -24.20

HRO vs ARD (Bills Rush Offense vs Bucs Rush Defense)
= 16.42 – 19.81 = -3.39

Now remember what I said about both sides earning points each play.  If the offense gains EP, the defense loses EP and vice versa.  Thus offensive and defensive EP cancel out when added.  The NFL average Offensive Pass EP is 16.6 and the average Defensive Pass Defense is -16.6.  The average Rush Offense is -2.6 EP(yes negative), and the average rush defense has an EP of 2.6.  So knowing this, if a matchup results in a EP total of 0, there is no advantage to either side.

What happens if we take the average passing offense and play against the average passing defense?

16.6 – -16.6 = 33.2

And for Rushing?

-2.6 – 2.6 = -5.2

What does this tell us in the Bucs vs Bills game?

Bucs Net Passing Offense = 28.81

The Bucs have a slightly above average pass offense(26.52 vs 16.6 avg) against a Bills pass defense that is also slightly above average(-2.3, but league average for Pass Defense is -16.6, so the Bills are 14 EP points better than average) reulting in a net of 28.81.

Now remember I just said the Bills are 14 EP(14.3 roughly) better than an average pass Defense.  The Bucs at 26.52 are almost exactly 10 EP(9.9 roughly) better than an average pass offense.  So OFF EP minus DEF EP…10 – 14 = -4 (or for accuracy 9.9 – 14.3 = -4.4).  33.2 (avg pass off – avg pass def) – 4.4 = 28.8.  We expected the Denver Pass Offense vs Bills Pass Defense to be 4.4 below average and it is exactly that at 28.81.

This means the Bucs should be able to pass against the Bills at just slightly below the league passing average.  I just looked up that the avg passing yardage this year so far is 221 yards/game.  Thus we would forcast the Broncos to pass for 200 – 220 yards.

Bills Net Passing Offense = 89.9

The Bills Passing is 66.2, while the Bucs passing defense scores -23.7.  The Bills have a very good to excellent passing game going against a Bucs passing defense that is slightly below average(league average -16.6, BUCS -23.7).  The Bills should be able to pass the ball very effectively against the Bucs.  The 89.9 value is almost 57 EP above what we would expect between an avg passing offense vs an avg passing defense.

Want to double check it again?  The Bills 66.2 Pass Off EP is roughly 50 points higher than league avg.  The Broncos defense at -23.7 is about 7 EP worse than avg.  And waalaa, there is your 57 points above average for the Bills 89.9 value.

This is also a good place to show why we are subtracting DEF EP from OFF EP and not adding it.  Look what would happen if we added.  The Bills 66.2 excellent pass offense meets an under-average Bucs pass defense -23.7.  If we added, the result would be 42.5, making the Bills excellent passing offense worse when playing against a below average pass defense.  By subtracting the def ep, it has the effect of making the Bills pass offense appear better, which is exactly what it should do.

Here is what the same Matrix would look like if we added the Off EP + Def EP.  Note now how the 36.23 is the sum of the Bills Rushing EP and the Bucs Rushing Defense EP.  Instead of the good defense cancelling out the good offense to near zero, it creates a large positive number that is deceiving and essentially meaningless.

NFL Expected Points Matrix Week 8 Adding
NFL Expected Points Matrix Week 8 Adding EP leads to deceiving results.

Bucs Net Rushing Offense = -24.20

Now get that chart out of your mind, it’s back to the game.

The Bucs have real difficulty runnning the ball as evidenced by the -25.54 rush EP.  The Bills rush defense at -1.34 is just ever so slightly below league average of 2.6 for rushing defense.  This tiny difference is not enough to change the Bucs rushing EP very much so the Bucs are going to have difficulty running against the Bills.

Bills Net Rushing Offense = -3.39

The Bills have an effective running game as shown by the 16,42 rushing EP(league average -2.6).  But the Bucs strength lies in their rush defense were they have an EP of 19.81, significantly better than average(2.6).  Thus the Bucs rushing defense is effectively canceling out the Bills rush offense.  The -3.39 EP for the Bill rushing is almost right on the league average.  So the Bills should have a average day rushing the ball.  An average NFL day, not an average Bills day.  An average Bills day would typically be better than what they can expect against the Bucs.


Both teams are best suited to throwing the ball in this matchup.  The Bills would be able to mix in an average running game, but that may be foolish when they have a huge advantage in the passing game(89.9).  The Bucs are going to have to keep the Bills honest will some rushing, but the damage will most likely be done by the pass.  Play action may not be all that helpful to the Bucs as the Bills may not respect their ability to run the ball.  The Bills should hope for good passing weather as such conditions would suit them against this Bucs defense.

Using The NFL Expected Points Matrix

Now it’s your turn.  Every game is shown in the Expected Point Matrix chart and all the calculations have already been done.  All you need to do is use the information in addition to your other handicapping skills to identify this week’s winning teams.

For example, the Cardinals should have real difficulty passing against the Ravens.  Do they go heavy on the run to keep it low scoring and get the under in play?

The Raiders aren’t going to be able to run against the Lions, so the Lions pass defense should know what’s coming and be looking to jump some routes.  Can the Lion’s D force Vegas to be one dimensional and turn this into a laugher?

Bears @ Chargers has all the makings of a passing shootout according to EP where both teams’ passing game is their better unit.

Will the Jets run the ball and simply wear down the Giants in the Battle of NYC?  The EP numbers say this is the way the Jets can win.

Best of luck to your team this weekend!