Win probability (WP) is a number that represents a team’s chances of winning. It was originally created by Pro Football Reference (the OGs of advanced statistics) although there are some slightly different versions in use today. Win probability is determined by a formula that takes into account things such as team strength, current score, time left, field position, possession, and down & distance. Essentially, it creates a chart of how a team’s chances of winning ebb and flow (or peak and plummet) with the results from one play to the next. Each week, the WP is charted for every NFL game by numberFire, ESPN, and Lee Sharpe.
Sometimes reviewing the WP charts after a Bills game is more fun than other times. Let’s plug our noses and get a face load of this week’s results.
Win Probability: Chiefs @ Bills pic.twitter.com/zVXg2lcgFy— Lee Sharpe, ⛓️ @ (@LeeSharpeNFL) October 20, 2020
Well, wasn’t that just grand (insert sarcasm). To review the most memorable moments of the game, let’s start when things were still close.
The Bills took the lead with about 5:45 left if the first quarter with a Tyler Bass field goal. Despite that lead, the strength of the Chiefs in the formula behind the scenes kept them between 58% and 65% WP.
The Chiefs answered back with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce that gave them a 7-3 lead with a little over three minutes left in the first quarter. This pushed the Chiefs up to a 70% WP. Even when the Bills reclaimed the lead with a TD pass to Stefon Diggs with 11:30 left in the second quarter it basically put the Bills back to where they were before the Chiefs scored; 57% WP for Kansas City to 43% for Buffalo.
It was mostly all downhill from there for the Bills. The Chiefs slowly climbed to 88% throughout the third quarter as time trickled away and Kansas City took a formidable 20-10 lead after a 13-yard run by Darrel Williams. The Chiefs’ next score was a 37-yard Harrison Butker field goal with a little more than nine minutes left in the game. The 13-point-lead gave the Chiefs a comfortable 96% WP.
Buffalo briefly showed signs of life with a quick drive that ended with a Cole Beasley touchdown. That quickly gave the Bills +16% and gave them approximated a 20% WP with 6:30 left to play. Sadly, we all remember the frustration as the Bills’ defense failed to give Josh Allen another shot at taking the lead and the Chiefs closed out the game with a final Harrison Butker field goal. With two minutes left in the game and a nine-point lead, the Chiefs finally reached 99% WP.