Santonio Holmes, Jets battle the Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals visit the New York Jets in the nightcap of the NFL’s Thanksgiving Day tripleheader. The Bengals are 0-3 against the Jets since the start of 2008, including two straight weeks last year to end Cincinnati’s season.

In that Wild Card Playoff game last season, Cedric Benson shredded the Jets defense when he ran for 169 yards. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other player to rush for 100 yards against the Jets in Rex Ryan's two seasons as head coach was Maurice Jones-Drew, who had 123 at Giants Stadium in Week 10 of last season.

Mark Sanchez Passing
Throws 11-20 Yards downfield

Jets QB Mark Sanchez has thrown around two-thirds of his total pass attempts within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage in each of his first two seasons.

Sanchez is stretching the field with a higher percentage of deep balls (21 or more yards) this year and has used that extra space to excel on intermediate routes.

The Bengals will match up well here with the Jets, as their 70.6 passer rating allowed on throws 11-20 yards downfield is the eighth-best mark in all of football.

And Sanchez has been hooking up with Santonio Holmes down the stretch in each of the Jets’ last four wins. Stats & Info's Alok Pattani points out that one way to quantify how much Holmes’ contributions have meant to the Jets is to use win probability. The website Advanced NFL Stats has a win probability calculator that allows the calculation of any team’s win probability in a given situation by using historical averages for similar situations over the last several seasons.

Santonio Holmes

HolmesAdding it all up, Holmes’ key plays on the final drives of the last four Jets wins accounted for a total of 146% win probability added, or about one-and-a-half wins. While obviously Sanchez, the offensive line, and other players were involved and deserve part of the credit for each of those plays, it’s quite amazing that Holmes has made such "clutch" contributions an almost weekly occurrence the past few games.

This explains why Holmes ranks near the top in WPA among wide receivers this season, despite missing the team’s first four games. In fact, if you look at it on a per-game basis, Holmes' +0.31 WPA per game is by far the highest in the league for any receiver this year.

Brian Burke, who is the operator of Advanced NFL Stats, had a blog post on this very subject earlier this week that you can read here. This chart details each of Holmes’ big plays in the fourth quarter or overtime in the last four Jets victories, and shows why Holmes could be called the most valuable wide receiver in the NFL this season.

Santonio Holmes' Key Plays in 4th Quarter or Overtime, Last four Jets Wins