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    GameChangers Week 16 (12/28/15)

    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

    Patriots vs. Jets

    The New York Jets beat the New England Patriots 26-20 in overtime. The win was set up by a strange Bill Belichick decision. That Pats elected to kick off after winning the coin toss before the start of the extra session.

    There appeared to be confusion among the Patriots as to whether the team wanted to kick or receive the ball. After the game asked about the choice to kick off to start overtime Belichick said, “Thought it was the best thing to do.”

    Once the Jets got the ball they became 53% likely to win. Had New England elected to receive the opening kickoff of overtime, the Patriots would have been 60 percent likely to win.

    For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

    The Play

    Falcons vs. Panthers

    Atlanta ended Carolina's perfect season with a 20-13 upset. Matt Ryan found Julio Jones for a 70-yard touchdown (+31 percent in expected win probability) late in the third quarter that was the biggest play of the game for the Falcons.

    Julio's spectacular catch over Luke Kuechly as Panthers safety Kurt Coleman fell down gave the Falcons a 14-10 lead and made Atlanta 55 percent likely to win.

    Had Kuechly intercepted Ryan's pass or if the pass is just incomplete (Atlanta faces fourth-and-13 at their own 30-yard line), Carolina would have become 80 percent likely to win with possession and a 10-7 lead.
    For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

    Additional Highlights

    Houston returned a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown (+17 percent in expected win probability) in the opening minutes and the rout was on. The Texans crushed the Titans 34-6 and took another step toward securing a playoff spot.

    The Chiefs win their ninth straight to clinch a playoff berth. Kansas City held on to beat the Cleveland Browns 17-13 Sunday. Jeremy Maclin (+10 percent in net win probability) scored the first touchdown of the game and helped KC build a two score lead at the half which proved enough for the victory.

    Ryan Mallett! The Ravens shocked the Steelers with Mallett at quarterback. The Texans memorably cut Mallett earlier this season after he missed the team flight to Miami in Week 7. The Ravens signed the former Patriots third round draft pick just 12 days ago. Mallett threw for 274 yards and a touchdown, he was the most important player in the game (+49 percent in net win percentage).

    Mistakes have been the downfall of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season. Chicago forced three takeaways (+40 percent in expected win probability) in a 26-21 win.

    St. Louis led the entire game and defeated the Seahawks 23-17 in Seattle for the first time since 2004. The Rams forced three turnovers including two fumbles (also recovered both of their own fumbles), one of which they returned for a touchdown that was the biggest play of the game (+21 percent in expected win probability).

    New Orleans capitalized on two second quarter Blake Bortles interceptions to build a 24-6 lead in the first half. The turnovers increased the Saints expected win probability by 15 percent.

    The Cardinals defense shined (scored 33 fantasy points on DraftKings) against the Packers sacking Aaron Rodgers nine times, forcing four turnovers and scoring twice. The defensive unit was the most valuable player (+17 percent in expected win probability) in the game.

    Minnesota rolled the New York Giants 49-17 to lock up a playoff spot. The Vikings intercepted Eli Manning three times and returned one for a touchdown (+13 percent in expected win probability).

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    NFL Trends Week 17 (12/30/15)
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