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    GameChangers Week 13 (12/07/15)

    By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
    To highlight the Live ScoreCaster, we will take our in-game technology, Live ScoreCaster, to the next level to review the game-changing plays from the NFL and what the game would have looked like if the plays had turned out differently.

    Click the header for each game to view the Game Breakdown for each matchup.

    The Decision

    Panthers vs. Saints



    Cam Newton led the Carolina Panthers to a wild 41-38 victory over the New Orleans Saints. In a game where 28 points were scored in the fourth quarter and the teams exchanged the lead four different times in the final 15 minutes, it is easy to forget that one of the most important plays of the game occurred when the Panthers were trailing by two scores in the first.

    The NFL's only undefeated team had to overcome early mistakes and a 14-0 deficit to stay perfect. The Panthers started their comeback by being aggressive. Facing a fourth-and-1 in Saints territory in the first quarter, Ron Rivera decided to go for it. Cam Newton ran for 30 yards and a first down on a naked bootleg.



    The play made Carolina 52 percent likely to win even though the team was still down by two touchdowns. Had the fourth down attempt failed, the Panther's expected win probability would have dropped to 29 percent.

    For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

    The Play

    Buccaneers vs. Falcons



    Jameis Winston threw a touchdown pass to Mike Evans with 1:39 to play to give Tampa Bay a 23-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons. The game-winning score was setup by the rookie quarterback's amazing scramble that picked up a key first down.


    Winston's extra effort extended the drive and was the biggest play of the game. The 20-yard gain on third-and-19 was worth 37 percent in expected win probability.

    Had the Falcons stopped Winston short of the first down, Tampa Bay likely attempts a field goal (that would have been at least 40 yards) to tie the game. Assuming the Bucs are able to tie the game, Atlanta would have become 60 percent likely to win with the ball and over two minutes to drive for the win.

    For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

    Additional Highlights

    The Titans snapped an 11-game home losing streak with a crazy 42-39 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Marcus Mariota had an 87 yards rushing touchdown (+41 percent in expected win probability) midway through the fourth quarter that gave Tennessee the lead for good. The rookie quarterback also threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns.

    Arizona thumped St. Louis 27-3 on Sunday. Carson Palmer led the offense to 524 total yards, the team never trailed and the Cardinals spent 100% of the game as the projected against-the-spread winner.

    Well, that was easy. In a possible playoff preview, the Seahawks dominated the Vikings 38-7 in Minnesota. Russell Wilson threw three touchdowns and rushed for another. Seattle's quarterback was worth 19 percent (best of any player) in the team's net win probability.

    Tyrod Taylor threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Charles Clay with less than two minutes to play to give Buffalo a 30-21 win over playoff hopeful Houston. That play increased the Bills' expected win probability by 26 percent and made the team 99 percent likely to win.

    The Dolphins kept their slim playoff hopes alive with an ugly 15-13 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Miami scored two touchdowns in 20 seconds. The game-changing plays were worth 40 percent in expected win probability for the Dolphins.

    Blaine Gabbert (Yes, Blaine Gabbert!) was the most valuable player in San Francisco's 26-20 upset of Chicago. The former first round pick scrambled for a 44-yard touchdown to tie the game and then connected with Torrey Smith on a 71-yard score to win the game in overtime. Gabbert's net win percentage was 62.5 percent.

    Philadelphia shocked New England with an improbable 35-28 win in Foxborough. The Eagles scored five touchdowns in a row: two on offense, two on special teams and one defensively. The 99-yard pick six was worth 34 percent in expected win probability and made Philly the projected winner for good.

    Antonio Brown caught eight balls for 118 yards and two touchdowns. The Steelers Pro Bowl receiver also added a punt return for a score. Brown was worth 30 percent in net win probability to Pittsburgh in the team's 45-10 win over Indy.

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