WATCH: The 10 most incredible completions of NFL Week 1, according to Next Gen Stats

Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Football Team

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These are the most improbable completions that happened Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season.

Week 1 of the NFL season was as exciting as ever, and it was full of plays that fans have on repeat this week.

NFL’s Next Gen Stats gives insights into various data points that help us view the game differently and appreciate the big plays even more with data.

One of their stats, completion percentage, assesses the likelihood of completion based on several factors, including (according to the NFL):

  • Air distance (negative relationship with completion percentage)
  • Target separation (positive relationship with completion percentage)
  • Sideline separation (positive relationship with completion percentage)
  • Pass rush separation (positive relationship with completion percentage)
  • Passer speed (negative relationship with completion percentage)
  • Time to throw (negative relationship with completion percentage)

Here are the most improbable catches from Week 1.

Josh Allen to Gabe Davis for 47 yards, 25.9% completion probability

Up 17-10, Josh Allen connected with Gabe Davis to get the Bills in the Red Zone early in the fourth quarter. The most impressive and underrated feature of this pass is Isaiah McKenzie’s block to keep Ernest Jones from sacking Allen and killing the play.

The Bills would score a touchdown on the following play.

Factors decreasing completion probability:

  • Air distance
  • Pass rush separation

Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs for a 53 yard TD, 25.8% completion probability

Stefon Diggs nearly fell and botched the play, but made an incredible recovery to snag the ball as he was hitting the field.

Diggs cooked Jalen Ramsey, creating up to 5.9 yards of separation on the route.

Factors decreasing completion probability:

  • Air distance
  • Passer speed
  • Time to throw

Lamar Jackson to Rashod Bateman for a 55-yard TD, 25.4% completion probability

Lamar Jackson sent a rope to Rashod Bateman for 55 yards, 50 in the air, to put the Ravens up by 20.

Factors decreasing completion probability:

  • Air distance: 55 yards
  • Time to throw: Nearly 5 full seconds came off the clock from snap to release

Kyler Murray to Marquise Brown for a 6-yard TD, 24.7% completion probability

The Cardinals did not look great against the Chiefs on Sunday, but Kyler Murray had a few nice plays, like this one. The Chiefs sent six, and with Frank Clark barrelling toward him, Murray had to make a snap throw.

The catch is more impressive than the throw though, as Brown — the former Sooner teammate of Murray — caught it cutting to the left while sliding away from Jaylen Watson.

At the time of the catch, Watson and Brown were separated by less than a yard.

Factors decreasing completion probability:

  • Target separation: Watson and Brown were less than a yard apart
  • Sideline separation: Watson was coming up on the sideline in the endzone
  • Pass rush separation: Murray was being blitzed
  • Passer speed: Murray was scurrying backward as he threw to avoid the blitz

Jalen Hurts to A.J. Brown for a 54-yard reception, 24.5% completion probability

Man, what a rocket… And you can’t knock the coverage either. Jalen Hurts found A.J. Brown who caught the ball with 0.8 yards of separation. Will Harris wrapped him up immediately but he muscled over 10 yards after the catch.

Factors decreasing completion probability:

  • Air distance: Over 40 yards in the air.
  • Target separation: The defense was right on Brown’s back.
  • Sideline separation: Close to the sideline.

Carson Wentz to Jahan Dotson for a 24-yard TD, 23.7% completion probability

Now we’re getting into the reallyyyyyy good stuff. Here, Carson Wentz gets a beautiful spiral to Jahan Dotson in just the right location for him to snag it with a defender on his back.

Half a yard separated Dotson and Tyson Campbell at the time of the catch.

Factors decreasing completion probability:

  • Target separation: Half a yard.
  • Sideline separation: Close to the near sideline.

Tom Brady to Julio Jones for 48 yards, 23.6% completion probability

48 yards of air for the 45-year-old Tom Brady. We know you saw this, but just appreciate it once more:

Factors decreasing completion probability:

  • Air distance: Over 50 yards of air counting the drop back
  • Target separation: 0.8 yards of separation at the time of the catch.
  • Sideline separation: Inside the nearside numbers.

Carson Wentz to Terry McLaurin for a 49-yard TD, 21% completion probability

Wentz finds himself as the only QB other than Josh Allen on this list twice. Not a bad showing on Sunday, but it was the Jaguars.

49 yards for six points here. They made it look easy, but it was anything but at 21% probability.

Factors decreasing completion probability:

  • Air distance: 40 yards in the air.
  • Target separation: 4.3 and 1.9 yards from two defenders.
  • Sideline separation: Inside far-side numbers
  • Pass rush separation: Less than 3 yards between passer and pass rushers

Mac Jones to Kendrick Bourne for a 41-yard reception, 20.8% completion probability

We’re coming up on the low 20s now… Mac Jones went to Kendrick Bourne for this one:

Perfectly placed with two defenders closing in. Bourne had one player on his back within 3 yards and another coming from the far side with just 5 yards of separation. Talk about a tight squeeze.

Factors decreasing completion probability:

  • Air distance
  • Target separation: 3 and 5 yards.
  • Sideline separation: Hit out of bounds.

Jameis Winston’s 40-yard toss to Jarvis Landry, 19.6% completion probability

Lasik Jameis, show us what ya got…

How about a 40-yard toss to a new teammate in Jarvis Landry that gets the Saints a good chunk of yardage, down two, to set them up for a later field goal to win the game?

Factors decreasing completion probability:

  • Air distance
  • Target separation
  • Sideline separation

Just the catch alone is impressive, but it was also after Winston entered the medical tent because there was pain… everywhere. Impressive comeback win from Winston, Landry, and the Saints on Sunday.

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