NFL GameChangers: Week 17 Edition (1/1/18)

By Ryan Fowler
In this edition of GameChangers, we will utilize our Live ScoreCaster technology to review the game-changing plays from Week 17 of the 2017 NFL season.

EXW% = expected win percentage

The Situation

Trailing 27-24 with less than a minute to go in the game, Andy Dalton's touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs.

The Take

Considering time, 44 seconds remaining, place, Baltimore's 49-yard line and situation, 4th-and-12, this playoff-deciding game-changer takes the cake.

However, five plays before Dalton-to-Boyd, an Eric Weddle interception would have sealed the win and playoff bid for the Ravens. Defensive holding on Marlon Humphrey nullified the pick.

But let's take another step back and review the win probability swings.

Trailing 24-17 at the start of the fourth quarter, Baltimore's EXW% was 35.1%. After a Justin Tucker field goal cut the Bengals' lead to four, it jumped to 43.5%. Mike Wallace's 6-yard touchdown capped off a 17-0 scoring run and handed the Ravens a 27-24 lead and 77.9% EXW% with less than nine minutes to go in the fourth.

Both teams exchanged punts on the next two drives, but Baltimore's EXW% did eclipse 90% at one point.

Fast forward to the Bengals' 11-play, 90-yard game-winning drive. With the ball at Cincinnati's 10-yard line to start, the Ravens' EXW% was 78.5%. It never dipped below 68% in the lead up to 4th-and-12 from the Baltimore 49-yard line. The Ravens' EXW% before Dalton-to-Boyd was 92.7%, which then sunk to 16.9% just 10 seconds later.

The Bengals knock the Ravens out of the playoffs in dramatic fashion, 31-27.

The Situation

Trailing 17-10 early in the third quarter, Baltimore's Chris Moore bobbled a Joe Flacco pass that was picked off and returned 89 yards for a touchdown.

The Take

On the opening drive of the third quarter, Baltimore advanced the ball 55 yards on nine plays down to the Bengals' 22-yard line. At the very worst, they were going to score three points. Instead, Flacco's pass was thrown behind Moore and, in an attempt to haul it in, he bobbled the football and Darqueze Dennard snatched it out of the air for the pick-six.

On the play before the pick, the Ravens EXW% was 53.6% despite trailing 17-10. However, after Dennard's touchdown, their house of cards came crumbling down to 20.3%.

The Situation

Trailing 28-24 with less than two minutes to go, Corey Coleman dropped a would-be first down at the Steelers' 11-yard line.

The Take

When analyzing the difference between 1-15 and 0-16, perhaps we're splitting hairs. However, up until yesterday, the Detroit Lions were the only 0-16 team in NFL history. So, this game-changer does carry significance.

On 4th-and-2 from the Pittsburgh 27-yard line, the Browns' EXW% was 20.5%. Had Coleman hauled in the catch at the 11, it's 1st-and-10 with 1:46 on the clock and 55.7% win probability. Instead, the ball slid right through the hands of the second-year receiver and on into the winless abyss.