NFL GameChangers: Week 7 Edition (10/24/16)

By Frank Brank @realfbra
In this week's edition of GameChangers, we utilize our Live ScoreCaster technology to review the game-changing plays from Week 7 in the NFL.

The Situation:
The Falcons received the kickoff in overtime and faced a fourth-and-one on their own 45-yard line. With the option of gaining one yard against a shaky Chargers defense or punting it back to San Diego, Dan Quinn decided to go for it. Quinn questionably chose to hand the ball off instead of trusting Matt Ryan to throw for it and the Chargers defense stopped Devonta Freeman for a loss.

The Take: Most of the time, the Falcons are going to convert fourth-and-one against the Chargers defense. If the Falcons had rushed for one yard and a first down, they would have had a 74.4% chance to win. Instead, the two-yard loss on Freeman's rush gave the Chargers a 72.3% chance to win. Dan Quinn's decision to run the ball was the downfall. Coming into this week, the Falcons led the NFL in yards per attempt passing at 9.9 yards per attempt, more than a yard better than anyone else in the league. They are a merely average rushing team as they've ran for 4.3 yards per attempt, or less than half of their average passing attempt.

The Situation: After giving up a late touchdown with just a minute left, Matt Stafford and the Lions found themselves in need of a touchdown to beat the Redskins. Stafford led the charge all the way down to the Washington 18-yard line but was against the clock as only 22 ticks were left. Stafford completed an 18-yard touchdown to the veteran Anquan Boldin.

The Take: Even as the Lions offense reached the 18-yard line, they only had a 41.9% probability of winning. In fact, their odds were only 12.4% at the start of the drive after the touchdown and extra point to put the Redskins ahead by four points. However, Boldin's touchdown grab swung the game severely in their favor. The second biggest one-play win percentage swing moved the Lions odds of winning fron 41.9% to 96.2%.

The Situation: The Saints were driving down the field into Chiefs' territory at the halfway mark in the fourth quarter while losing 24-14. Mark Ingram carried the ball to the seven-yard line and lost a fumble back to the Chiefs.

The Take: Coming into this week, the Saints converted 16 of 20 red zone chances into touchdowns, by far the best rate in the NFL. Considering the Saints were already down 10 points, this play had less of an affect on straight-up win percentage than the Saints chances to cover the spread as 6.5-point underdogs. Before the fumble, the Saints had a 50.3% chance to cover. After, they only held a 10.7% probability. Interestingly, the Saints ended up covering the spread by just a half point by scoring a touchdown just before the two minute warning and surrendering another field goal back to the Chiefs with just a minute left in the fourth quarter.

The Situation: The Cardinals had a short 24-yard field goal attempt in overtime to beat the Seahawks after a poorly played game on each side. Bobby Wagner jumped the center on the snap and may have affected Chandler Catanzaro's field goal attempt that clanked off the post.

The Take: This is an obvious game changer for the week. Catanzaro has converted over 95% of his 20-29 yard field goal attempts in his three year career. The Seahakws edge jumped from a 6.1% chance to win to 54.9% after the missed attempt. As if the game couldn't have gotten any worse from an execution standpoint, Steven Hauschka missed a 28-yard field goal with just seven seconds left to ensure the tie. Though it is rare, the tie rule in the NFL could raise issues this year. In such a short season with close competition across all the divisions, ties can either hurt or help teams make playoffs that otherwise may not have made it. In a league that has significant rule changes each year, the tie rule should no longer remain.