GameChangers Week 10 (11/10/13)

By John Ewing
GameChangers, a look at plays that impacted the outcomes of games around the league. If you have a suggestion for a GameChanger please direct all ideas via twitter to @johnewing.

To highlight the Live ScoreCaster, we will take our in-game technology, Live ScoreCaster, to the next level to review three of the game-changing plays from the NFL and what the game would have looked like if the plays had turned out differently. 
49ers vs. Panthers
With 6:21 left in the 2nd quarter, leading 6-0, San Francisco kicks a field goal instead of going for it on 4th and 1 from the 2-yard line. Should the 49ers have gone for it?
Prior to kicking the field goal San Francisco was 85.0% likely to win. After kicking the field goal and kicking off to Carolina the 49ers were 85.2% likely to win. Essentially kicking the field goal did not increase their chances of winning.
Had the 49ers converted the 4th down for a first down their odds of winning increase to 89.4%, a touchdown increases San Francisco’s odds of winning to 92.3%. Failing on the 4th down attempt would have lowered the 49ers’ odds of winning to 81.4%.
The numbers, given the minimal downside, suggest that it would have been appropriate to go for it on 4th down.
Bengals vs. Ravens
Prior to the Hail Mary, Cincinnati had a 0.1% (or 1 in 1,000) chance of winning. A.J. Green’s prayer answering catch coupled with winning the coin toss made the Bengals 60.4% likely to win at the start of overtime. However, the Ravens became the favorites to win after a failed 4th down by Cincinnati.
With 10:01 left in overtime, Cincinnati went for it on 4th and 2 from the Baltimore 33-yard line. Giovani Bernard reversed field after a short catch that resulted in an 11-yard loss and a turnover on downs. Cincinnati’s odds of winning went from 64% to 22% likely to win.
Had Bernard picked up the first down the Bengals odds of winning would have increased 30% to 94.3%.
Lions vs. Bears
Calvin Johnson caught a 14-yard touchdown pass with 2:22 left in the 4th giving Detroit a 21-13 lead and making the Lions 98.7% likely to win. Prior to the franchise record-breaking touchdown catch, Detroit was 89.9% likely to win. Had the pass been incomplete and the Lions settled for a field goal, their odds to win would have dropped to 80.1% leading 17-13. Johnson’s touchdown catch was worth nearly 20% to the Lions win probability and proved the difference after a late Chicago score.

Jaguars vs. Titans
The Jaguars never trailed against the Titans in their first win of the season. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good, there were eight fumbles in this game and the Jaguars recovered six of them. The four turnovers Jacksonville forced resulted in 17 points on their way to a season high 29 points, just the fifth time the Jaguars had broken double digits scoring.
Jacksonville was our projected winner for the majority of the game. This is impressive because the Jags had only been our projected winner for 1:52 (yes, 1 minute and 52 seconds) the entire season. This happened when the Jags held a 7-0 lead over the Rams in the 1st quarter of their Week 5 matchup.