The Saints fought two battles on Sunday: one against their physical opponent, the Washington Redskins, and the other against something much larger, more fearsome, and ever-present—math.
Redskins had a 98.9% chance to win. Until they didn't. pic.twitter.com/JJInktDPhU— Michael Jenkins (@JenksNBCS) November 19, 2017
New Orleans was victorious on both fronts, beating Washington 34-31 in a wild overtime game that gave the team its eighth victory in a row, and toppling math, too, in turning a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit into a three-point win. At its most extreme low, the Saints’ win probability was just 0.4 percent.
The Saints are now 8-2, and they remain the hottest team in the NFL. They’re the first team since 1947 to win eight games in a row after losing their first two, and Sunday marked the first time in franchise history that the team won a game after trailing by 14 or more in the fourth. They now have a full-game lead over the Panthers in the NFC South, and they eked out a win on Sunday by using all the tools in their offense.
Mark Ingram—the guy everyone tends to forget about because Alvin Kamara highlights exist—rushed for 134 yards on 11 carries, his best game so far this season. Kamara also added 42 yards on the ground, but the big story on Sunday was that Drew Brees was back on his bullshit and silencing the fantasy haters.
Brees threw for 385 yards and two touchdowns, and four different Saints had 75 yards or more receiving on the day. Brees led two fourth-quarter drives of 75 and 87 yards, respectively, both ending in touchdowns, and the second came with a successful two-point conversion that sent the game to OT. From there it was the Ingram show, as he rushed twice for 51 yards to set up Wil Lutz’s game-winning field goal.
While the Saints continue to rattle off W’s, it’s been a tough few weeks for the Redskins, as they’ve now lost back-to-back one-score games against likely playoff teams. But even more than that, it’s been a rough couple of years for math and win probability, which took one of its most high-profile 2017 losses during the Super Bowl, when the Patriots came back from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Falcons. The Pats had just a 0.3 percent chance of winning at that point, and a less than a 1 percent chance at 20 different points overall. The Chargers are also familiar with the deficiencies of win probability, as they lost four games at the beginning of last season where they held a fourth-quarter lead, and in at least half of those they had a 99.9 percent shot at emerging victorious.
The Saints look ready to beat math again in the postseason—but with the way they’re playing, they might not need to.