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    GameChangers Week 7 (10/26/15)

    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

    Redskins vs. Bucs

    Entering the game, Jay Gruden said his Week 7 matchup with Tampa Bay was a “code red” – must win – situation for his team. Unfortunately, Washington fell behind Tampa Bay 24-0 in the first half. Necessity is the mother of invention. When trailing big a team must find a way to steal an extra possession.

    Down 24-14, after scoring a quick touchdown to start the third quarter, Gruden ordered an onside kick. Up until this attempt, no team in the NFL had successfully recovered (0-24) an onside kick in 2015.

    The surprise onside kick worked, Washington recovered and the special teams play sparked the largest comeback in franchise history. With the ball back, Kirk Cousins led another scoring drive that made it a one-possession game. The special team's play plus the touchdown increased the Redskins' expected win probability by 20 percent to 46 percent.

    Had Tampa Bay recovered the kick, Washington's chance of winning drops to 17 percent.

    For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

    The Play

    Colts vs. Saints

    New Orleans built a 27-point lead only for Andrew Luck to rally the Colts within one score late in the fourth. The Saints had to recover an onside kick to preserve a 27-21 win in Indianapolis.

    The onside kick worked for Washington because it was unexpected. When a team is forced to attempt an onside kick, they only recover the ball about 20 percent of the time. The success rate jumps to over 60 percent when the kick is a surprise.

    Indy, with one timeout remaining and down a score, was forced to try an onside kick but the Saints recovered. Had the Colts came up with the ball, Indianapolis becomes 28 percent likely to win. However, when Drew Brees took over with a short field, the Colts win probability dropped to 7 percent.

    For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

    Additional Highlights

    Jacksonville blew a 27-3 lead (and a 96 percent win probability) by allowing 28 consecutive points by the Buffalo Bills. After throwing a pick-six to concede the lead, Blake Bortles engineered a late touchdown drive (only a 20 percent chance to win before the drive started) to give the Jaguars a 34-31 victory.

    We talked about stacking Todd Gurley and the Rams defense and featured the play in our optimal lineups in daily. Boy did it work out. Combined, Gurley and the defense were worth 50.2 percent in net win probability (and 60.3 fantasy points on DraftKings) in St. Louis' 24-6 win over Cleveland.

    Ryan Tannehill completed his first 18 passes and threw for four touchdowns in the games first 16 minutes. Miami walloped Houston 44-26. Tannehill was the game's most valuable player accounting for 27.4 percent in net win probability for the Dolphins.

    Tom Brady threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Patriots defeated the Jets 30-23. The Super Bowl MVP's net win percentage was 55.6 percent as New England stays undefeated.

    Dwayne Harris returned a kickoff 100 yards for the winning score in the fourth. That play swung the Giants expected win probability by 35.8 percent. New York is now in first place in the NFC East.

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    NFL Trends Week 8 (10/28/15)
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