GameChangers Week 8 (10/27/14)

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.

Cardinals vs. Eagles


Arizona defeated Philadelphia 24-20 Sunday afternoon. Carson Palmer hooked up with rookie John Brown on a 75-yard touchdown pass for the game winning score. Arizona's expected win probability increased from 11 percent to 91 percent. The go-ahead touchdown came four plays after the Cardinals goal line stand forced the Eagles to settle for a field goal.

Philadelphia kicked the field goal to take a 20-17 lead with less than two minutes remaining instead of going for it on fourth and short from the Cardinals 2-yard line. In hindsight it is easy to criticize Philly after the loss for passing on the short fourth down attempt, but was kicking the field goal the right move?

Again, the successful field goal by Cody Parkey gave the Eagles a 20-17 lead and made Philadelphia 87 percent likely to win with less than two minutes remaining. It is hard to argue with that win percentage. However, had the Eagles gone for it on fourth down and scored a touchdown Philly becomes 97 percent likely to win with a touchdown lead. Even if the Eagles do not score a touchdown the team could have picked up a first down giving Philadelphia at least three more attempts to punch it in before having another easy field goal attempt.

The downside, if the Eagles failed to convert on the fourth down then Philadelphia's expected win probability would have decreased to 53 percent. A touchdown is always preferred to a field goal but that late in the game taking the easy three points was the correct decision.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Lions vs. Falcons


For the second week in a row Detroit has rallied for a win. The Lions trailed 21-0 at the half and were just six percent likely to win after the first two quarters.

The game was won on the leg of kicker Matt Prater. The Lions' kicker split the uprights on a 48-yard attempt as time expired to give Detroit a 22-21 victory. The game winning kick was the first field goal over 40 yards for Detroit all season. The winning field goal was only possible because a delay of game penalty erased a missed 43-yarder moments earlier.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Patriots vs. Bears


New England rolled Chicago 51-23 in part because of three touchdowns that were scored in a span of 45 seconds. The Patriots expected win probability increased from 84 percent to 96 percent during the scoring binge.

The Patriots Musket guys rocked out to the easy victory.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Vikings vs. Buccaneers


Minnesota's Anthony Barr returned a fumble by Austin Seferian-Jenkins on the first play from scrimmage for a touchdown in overtime to beat Tampa Bay 19-13. The Vikings were the projected losers at the start of overtime because the Buccaneers won the coin flip heading into the extra session.

Had Seferian-Jenkins not fumbled, Tampa Bay would have had a first down at its own 27-yard line. The Buccaneers would have been 68 percent likely to win.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Ravens vs. Bengals


Joe Flacco connected with Steve Smith on an 80-yard touchdown with less than a minute left to give Baltimore a 31-27 lead. Except the play was nullified by a penalty for offensive pass interference. The Ravens had just a 10 percent chance of winning after the penalty.

Had the 80-yard touchdown stood, Baltimore would have become 84 percent likely to win leading 31-27.

Cincinnati won 27-24 and are now first in the AFC North, which is currently the only division where every team is over .500.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Packers vs. Saints


New Orleans snapped Green Bay's four game winning streak 44-23 Sunday night. The game turned in the second half when two passes from Aaron Rodgers deflected off of his receivers hands and were intercepted by the Saints. New Orleans capitalized on both turnovers scoring touchdowns on the ensuing possessions. The Saints expected win probability increased from 32 percent to 99 percent following those plays.

Rodgers' first interception came when the Packers were on the Saints 5-yard line. Had Green Bay scored a touchdown instead of turning the ball over the Packers would have been 73 percent likely to win. Even if Green Bay settles for a field goal the Packers would have been 61 percent likely to win in the Superdome.

Tipped passes are fickle beasts. Sometimes they ended up as interceptions and other times they look like Brandin Cook's tipped catch.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.