Bills’ Top 5 Offensive Plays of 2022 NFL season by EPA


While the Buffalo Bills’ 2022 NFL season ended earlier than hoped, it was still an unforgettable season with heart-rending drama, unexpected twists, and, best yet, incredible plays. There are so many great plays from this season, how can they be narrowed down? In true Cover 1 fashion, let’s look at the best plays of the season in terms of each play’s impact analytically. Over the next two weeks, we’re gonna look at the Bills’ top plays of the season by Expected Points Added (EPA).

If you’ve read almost any article or listened to virtually any episode from Cover 1, you’ve heard about EPA, and the offseason is a good time to reexamine those metrics and get a refresher on their definitions. This week, we’ll check out the top five offensive plays with the top five defensive plays coming next week.

Expected Points Added

Expected Points Added has been creeping into football fans’ lexicon for the last five-to-ten years, but the concept has been around since the late 1980s, particularly in Bob Carroll’s The Hidden Game of Football. EPA builds on Expected Points, which is essentially “how many points can a team in this situation be expected to make?” The Expected Points assigned to a play given down and distance, game time, score, field position, home or away, etc. is generated by historical data, and the difference, positive or negative, in Expected Points assigned to the next play calculates that play’s Expected Points Added.

Here’s a hypothetical, not based on any actual data, to illuminate:

  1. Historical data assigns 0.3 points to Team A with the ball 1st & 10 from -35 with 3:15 in Q3
  2. Team A has a 20-yard pass play
  3. The new situation – 1st & 10, +45 with 2:55 Q3 – has an Expected Points of 0.45
  4. That 20-yard pass has an Expected Points Added of 0.15

Here are a few examples from a helpful article by Alok Pattani:

To make the concept more tangible, here are some examples:

• From your own 20-yard line, an 8-yard gain on third-and-10 is worth about minus-0.2 EPA because you don’t get a first down; the same 8 yards on third-and-7 is worth 1.4 EPA for converting a long third down and keeping the drive alive. EPA knows that not all yards are created equal.

• A turnover on first-and-10 at midfield that is taken back to your own 20 is worth minus-5.5 EPA; a Hail Mary interception at the end of the half from midfield is not nearly as penalizing. EPA knows that all turnovers aren’t created equal, as well.

• A 60-yard pass play down to the 1-yard line on third-and-10 is worth 5.7 EPA because it puts you right on the doorstep of scoring. The subsequent 1-yard rushing TD on first-and-goal is worth much less, even though that’s the play that actually gets you the six points. Think about which play is more valuable to the offense (not in terms of fantasy football).

To give scale to EPA, consider this: Sports Info Solutions (SIS) calls plays that generate 1.0 or more in EPA as Boom Plays, plays that have a significantly positive impact for the offense. Now, when Uber Hansen tells you that Josh Allen had an EPA/Pass Att of 0.085, you can understand his tone of awe over such a seemingly small number.

All this is to give even greater context to some of the Bills’ best plays of the year.

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5. Gabriel Davis’ 62-Yard Touchdown Reception (Week 5 vs PIT), EPA 5.094

  • Time: 9:38 Q2
  • Score: PIT 3 – BUF 10
  • POS: 1st & 10, -38

A little more than five minutes into Q2, the Bills had not yet blown open the game against the Steelers. Sixty-two bombs away yards to Gabe Davis later, the route was on, but this isn’t even Davis’ most impactful play of the game, as we’ll see below.

4. Stefon Diggs’ 52-Yard Reception (Week 15 vs MIA), EPA 5.136

  • Time: 8:51 Q1
  • Score: MIA 0 – BUF 0
  • POS: 3rd & 15, -42

The only non-TD on the list. This play brings Panatti’s third example to life. Diggs doesn’t get the TD on this pass, but the value from being stuck behind a 3rd & 15 in your own territory to a 1st & Goal had an even bigger benefit to the team than the ensuing touchdown.

3. Diggs’ 53-Yard Touchdown Reception (Week 1 at LAR), EPA 5.414

  • Time: 9:34 Q4
  • Score: BUF 24 – LAR 10
  • POS: 3rd & 4, -47

The Bills’ IOL holds against Aaron Donald and company, creating a lane for Allen to move up and find Diggs deep. This play should get even more EPA lumped on for Diggs taunting Jalen Ramsey afterward.

2. Diggs’ 49 -ard Touchdown Reception (Week 18 vs NE), EPA 5.533

  • Time: 8:59 Q4
  • Score: NE 23 – BUF 28
  • POS: 3rd & 10, +49

This drive came right after NE had scored to get within four points, but Allen’s throw hits Diggs perfectly in stride and takes away virtually any hope of a comeback for NE. On the series after this TD, the Pats go three & out and it’s effectively over.

1. Davis’ 98-Yard Touchdown Reception (Week 5 vs PIT), EPA 8.358

  • Time: 14:09 Q1
  • Score: PIT 0 – BUF 0
  • POS: 3rd & 10, -2

You knew this one was coming. It should not be possible for one play to generate an EPA higher than 6, right? Well, considering the negative Expected Points assigned to 3rd & 10 FROM YOUR OWN 2-YARD-LINE, we can see how this play might garner a whopping 8+ EPA. Everything about this play screams game-changer. Tied for the longest TD in team history, this is one play we’ll never forget.


You can find Chris on Twitter (@lowbuffa), getting dirty in #MafiaGardens, or watching football. Go Bills!