GameChangers Week 14 (12/08/14)

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.

Colts vs. Browns


When the Colts trailed 21-7 in the third quarter; Indy had just an 11 percent chance of winning. Andrew Luck threw a one-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton with 32 second left to rally Indianapolis to a 25-24 victory.

Before Luck's game-winning throw, the Colts running back Daniel Herron ran for two yards on fourth-and-one from the three-yard line to pick up a game-saving first down.

The fresh set of downs increased Indy's expected win probability from 33 percent to 53 percent.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Ravens vs. Dolphins


Baltimore trailed 10-0 in the first quarter and the Ravens were just 20 percent likely to win the game down two scores on the road. Baltimore outscored Miami 28-3 over the final three quarters and the Ravens got a critical win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Baltimore, leading 14-13 in the fourth, were helped when replay overturned what looked to be a Joe Flacco fumble. The review ruled that Flacco threw an incomplete pass instead of a fumble because the quarterback's arm was moving forward.

On the next play, Baltimore scored on a Justin Forsett two-yard run and the Ravens became 95 percent likely to win.

Had the replay upheld the ruling on the field, a Flacco fumble recovered by Miami, the Dolphins would have become 44 percent likely to rally and win.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.



Vikings vs. Jets


Jets kicker Nick Folk booted a 44-yard field goal with 23 seconds left to force overtime. New York won the coin flip and was 57 percent likely to win the game in the extra session.

After forcing the Jets to punt to start the extra period, Minnesota faced a third-and-five from their own 13-yard line. The Vikings were just 39 percent likely to win.

Teddy Bridgewater threw a quick pass to Jarius Wright on a bubble screen, the Vikings receiver made one defender miss and then took the short pass 87-yards for a touchdown. It was the third longest offensive touchdown in overtime in NFL history.

Had the Jets stopped the Vikings third down bubble pass and forced a punt, New York would have become 73 percent likely to win (using Minnesota's net punting average to determine starting field position for the Jets).

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Cardinals vs. Chiefs


Arizona shut out Kansas City in the second half, the Cardinals rallied from a 14-6 halftime deficit (20 percent chance to win) to beat the Chiefs 17-14.

The Cardinals benefited from a replay review, which determined that Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce fumbled after what would have been a first down for the Chiefs at the Cardinals 23-yard line. The fumble recovery by Arizona made the NFC West leaders 80 percent likely to win.

Had Kansas City retained possession, the Chiefs become 67 percent likely to win with a first down just outside of the red zone.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Broncos vs. Bills


Denver won its third game in a row despite Peyton Manning's streak of 51 straight games with a touchdown pass ending. The Broncos leading by as many as three touchdowns in the fourth quarter were 99 percent likely to win for the final 20 minutes of the game.

The irony in the expected win probability is that Buffalo was always the projected loser and for most of the second half, had with less than a one percent chance to win. Even when the Bills had nothing to lose, they used a conservative approach against one of the best teams in the NFL.

Facing a 4th-and-2 with less than six minutes to play and trailing Denver by two touchdowns, the Bills punted. Had Buffalo went for it on fourth down and converted, the Bills expected win probability is still 1.5 percent. If they fail to get the first down, the team's expected win probability is one percent.

There was no downside to going for it when you are already going to lose. This is not college football, there are no style points and avoiding a blowout loss does not impact the standings.

Buffalo has an outside shot at making the playoffs but conventional play calling could have the Bills watching from home during the postseason.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.