NFL GameChangers: Week 6 Edition (10/17/16)

By Frank Brank @realfbra
In this edition of GameChangers, we will utilize our Live ScoreCaster technology to review the game-changing plays from Week 6 in the NFL. This week featured a two big pass plays that changed the outcome of each game.

Big Plays

The situation: The Giants had the clock and situation working greatly against them this week. With just 1:24 left in regulation, down 23-20, and the ball sitting on their own 34-yard line on a fourth-and-one, Eli Manning completed a quick slant to Odell Beckham Jr. who was able to avoid a few tacklers on his way to a 66-yard game-winning touchdown.

The take: The catch and run by Beckham Jr. was the biggest one-play swing in win percentage for Week 6. The Ravens held an 80.9% chance to win with nearly every factor in their favor prior to the touchdown. An incomplete pass on the play would have effectively ended the game. Even with the completed pass, a tackle around midfield, where Beckham Jr. was able to make a few defenders miss, would still have given the Ravens a 50.9% chance to win the game. Instead they were left with a mere 7.8% after the extra point to put them in need of a touchdown. In the two of the last three weeks, the Ravens have given up big pass plays that eventually beat them. In Week 4, Derek Carr completed a 23-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree while the Ravens had a 75.8% chance to win.

The situation: Losing 16-10, the Jaguars held the ball with less than three minutes left in the game on their own 49-yard line needing a touchdown. Blake Bortles completed a deep stop route to Arrelious Benn when the defender, Tracy Porter, slipped and fell on the play. Benn, who had also fallen while making the catch, was able to get up before being touched and score the eventual game-winning touchdown.

The take: The Bears held a staggering 91.8% chance to win before the completion by the deadly combination of Blake Bortles and Arrelious Benn dropped them all the way down to 45.8%. The Bears are no strangers to bad losses, either. Their offense currently holds the eighth best yards per play average in the NFL after this week and they have a 1-5 record to show for it. If their bad luck and fourth quarter meltdowns start to even out as expected, they may be a sleeper or spoiler team the rest of the way.

Unique Play

The situation: The Falcons, with the aide of a short field goal and extra point miss by Steven Hauschka, held a one-point lead over the Seahawks with 3:48 left and the ball on their own 39-yard line. Kyle Shanahan decided to throw the ball on first down. Matt Ryan delivered a good throw, in traffic, to Julio Jones. Unfortunately, the pass went through Jones' hands and was intercepted by Earl Thomas who returned it into Falcons' territory. Hauschka went on to redeem himself and kick the game-winning field goal.

The take: With the Seahawks only having one timeout left, it would be easy to be critical of Shanahan's decision to throw on first down given the amount of time left in the game. However, a hypothetical completion to Julio Jones at about midfield would have increased the Falcons' chances of winning by more than 11% at that point in the game. Given that Jones has only dropped 3% of passes thrown his way in the last two seasons, the payoff of an 11% increase with a completion was well worth it. The hint of bad luck shrunk the Falcons' 63.6% chance of winning to just 28.8% against the stout Seahawks defense.