NFL GameChangers: Week 13 Edition (12/05/16)

By Frank Brank @realfbra
Week 13 in the NFL lacked the usual late offensive plays that flipped games on their heads. Instead, there were a number of gaffes and mistakes that changed games. The five biggest swings of Week 13 were turnovers.

The Situation: The Cowboys and Vikings were locked into another low-scoring Thursday Night Football game due to the impressive Vikings defense and unimpressive Vikings offense. After a holding call, the Cowboys offense faced a 1st and 20 deep in their own end with a 7-6 lead. Dak Prescott would drop back and didn't feel pressure coming from his front-side. Brian Robison stripped Prescott from behind and gave the Vikings the ball inside the red zone.

The Take: In such a low scoring game, possession and field position are important. The turnover nearly guaranteed a Vikings lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Vikings would end up kicking a field goal to take the lead. Before the fumble, Dallas held a 63.7% chance to win. After the fumble and a near guarantee to take the lead, the Vikings held a 72.2% chance to win.

The Situation: The Cowboys now trailed 9-7 in Minnesota after the field goal and were punting back to the Vikings with ten minutes left. Not to be outdone, Adam Thielen, who has been extremely reliable for the banged-up Vikings offense, fumbled the punt and gave the Cowboys back the ball at the Minnesota eight-yard line.

The Take: In a mostly ugly game, the turnovers and missed opportunities ended up being the key factors. After Thielen's fumble, the Cowboys flipped from a 37.4% underdog to a 64.8% favorite as they were the ones nearly guaranteed to take the lead. Dez Bryant ended up with the touchdown grab that put the Vikings behind the eight-ball. The Cowboys would go on to win the game in exciting fashion after a failed two point conversion by the VIkings.

The Situation: The Chargers were digging their way out of their own end ahead 14-10 late into the third quarter. Philip Rivers changed off of a run play, hesitated, and threw a ball slightly behind Tyrell Williams. The ball was tipped up into the air and returned for a touchdown by Lavonte David to put the Chargers down three points. By the end of the fourth quarter, the Chargers found themselves down seven. Philip Rivers was driving down the field when he had an easy pick up of a first down to continue the drive. Instead, Rivers challenged Keith Tandy in one-on-one coverage. Tandy intercepted the slightly under-thrown pass inside of three minutes to eventually end the Chargers hopes of a comeback.

The Take: Philip Rivers makes the bad swing of GameChangers again this week. Again, Rivers is very good. He's working with a limited offense due to injury and is still playing well. Unfortunately, he's had some untimely interceptions the last few weeks. The first pick-six would swing the game from 73.1% in their favor to 46.0%. The Chargers still had a 34.0% chance on the last drive after play before his second interception. The interception, while Rivers could have easily advanced the drive and taken more time off of the clock, reduced their chances of stopping the Bucs and getting a touchdown in return at just 7.1%.