GameChangers Week 16 (12/22/14)

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 in Week 16 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.


Falcons vs. Saints

Atlanta handed New Orleans its fifth straight home loss with a 30-14 win in the Big Easy, which it has been for opposing road teams of late. The Falcons set up a winner takes all showdown with the Panthers next week and eliminated the Saints from playoff contention.

The play of the game was a Jimmy Graham fumble inside the Falcons one-yard line early in the fourth. One replay looked to show that Graham had crossed the goal line before the fumble but officials did not find conclusive evidence to overturn the ruling on the field.

Atlanta's expected win probability increased from 74 percent to 96 percent with the turnover.

Had Graham's play been ruled a touchdown instead of a fumbe at the goal line, with New Orleans trailing 20-14, the Saints expected win probability increases from 4 percent to 27 percent.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Dolphins vs. Vikings


The Miami Dolphins erased an early 14 point deficit but trailed late in the fourth after giving up 15 points in an 11 second span. The two quick scores gave Minnesota a 35-28 lead and made the Vikings 91 percent likely to win.

The Dolphins responded with an 11 play, 80 yard drive to tie the game with 1:16 left to play. Miami's expected win probability increased 40 percent but the Dolphins were still projected to lose until a special teams play changed the game.

Miami's Terrence Fede blocked a punt for a safety with 41 seconds left that gave the Dolphins a 37-35 victory.

Even if Fede did not block the punt, Miami would have become 77 percent likely to win with possession of the football and only needing a field goal to win the game.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Patriots vs. Jets


The Patriots clinched a first round bye with a 17-16 victory over the New York Jets. New England scored the go ahead touchdown early in the fourth after intercepting Geno Smith.

The interception, plus the touchdown increased New England's expected win probability from 49 percent to 82 percent.

The Jets had an opportunity to take the lead late in the fourth but Nick Folk missed a 52-yard field goal. Had the kick been good, Jets leading 19-17, New York would have become 55 percent likely to win.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.



Eagles vs. Redskins


The Washington Redskins snapped a six-game losing streak and dealt a devastating blow to the Philadelphia Eagles' playoff chances with a 27-24 victory on Saturday night.

Miscues against the Redskins played a big part in costing the Eagles the playoffs. Philadelphia had 13 penalties (most this season), two missed field goals (kicker Cody Parkey had been 29-of-31 entering the game) and two turnovers, both by Mark Sanchez.

The last turnover, an interception with 1:31 remaining, was Sanchez's 13th turnover in seven games and led to Kai Forbath's winning 26-yard field goal with five seconds remaining.

Sanchez's interception swung the game. Washington's expected win probability increased from 28 percent to 77 percent after forcing the turnover.

Had Sanchez's pass fell incomplete, Philadelphia facing 4th and 4 from the Washington 48-yard line, the Eagles would have been 55 percent likely to win.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Chargers vs. 49ers


San Diego trailed San Francisco by 21 points at halftime. The Chargers had just a 7 percent chance of winning and keeping their slim playoff hopes alive.

San Diego erased the three touchdown deficit outscoring the 49ers 31-7 in the second half and overtime. The comeback win is tied for the second largest rally in the NFL this season.

The 49ers had opportunities to win the game but Phil Dawson missed a 60-yard field goal at the end of regulation and Quinton Patton fumbled in overtime to set up the Chargers' winning drive.

San Diego's expected win probability increased from 42 percent to 63 percent following the turnover in the extra session.

If the Chargers beat the Chiefs in the season finale San Diego will punch its playoff ticket.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.