We are sports data scientists with a deeper, faster, more accurate analysis of the game’s most critical decisions. Our EdjFootball model assesses a team’s Game-Winning Chance (GWC) or win probability at any moment of the game. Each week we analyze the NFL games and bring you the most interesting scenarios, including play execution and coaching decisions and how they affect a team’s GWC. Here are our most notable plays for NFL Week 10.
Oakland vs. Los Angeles Chargers
The situation: scoreless game, 12:33 left in the 1st quarter, 4th and 4 from the OAK 37 – Raiders’ punter, Johnny Townsend, fakes the punt and runs for a 42-yard gain
In a game where the Raiders were sizable underdogs, Jon Gruden dialed up this trick play early in the game to give his team a much-needed Game-Winning Chance (GWC) boost. Prior to the snap, the Raiders had 19.8 percent GWC. After the fake punt and 42-yard run, their GWC jumped to 30.8 percent for a healthy 11.0 percent gain. Had Gruden actually elected to punt, the decision would have cost the Raiders 1.8 percent GWC. With little to lose in terms of starting GWC, calling an aggressive play like this was a smart tactic from Gruden. An underdog needs to find every opportunity to pick up GWC, and this well-executed trick play greatly improved the Raiders’ chances.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle
The situation: LA leading Seattle 26-24, 7:39 left in the 4th quarter, 4th and goal from the SEA 2 – Sean McVay decides to attempt a field goal instead of going for it on fourth down
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Rams’ offense took over at midfield and began to move deeper into Seattle territory. On an important third down in the red zone, Jared Goff found Brandin Cooks on a short pass, but Cooks was stopped two yards short of the goal line. In this situation, a potential touchdown was particularly valuable as it would have extended their lead from one to two possessions. With the final minutes of the fourth quarter approaching, McVay elected to send his special teams unit onto the field to attempt the short field goal. This decision sent the Rams’ Game-Winning Chance from 81.6 percent down to 75.9 percent, a play call error of 5.7 percent (the third largest error of Week 10).
New England vs. Tennessee
The situation: NE trailing 24-10, 9:15 left in the 3rd quarter, 4th and 4 at TEN 41 – Bill Belichick decides to punt the ball to the Titans instead of going for it on fourth down
Although they were significant pregame favorites, the Patriots found themselves down two touchdowns early in the second half of this road contest. On their second possession of the third quarter, the Patriots’ offense picked up three first downs before their drive ultimately stalled just outside of field goal range. In desperate need of points and with field position that favored aggressive play calling, the Patriots gave up 3.4 percent Game-Winning Chance when they decided to punt the ball in this situation. The Patriots would be unable to get much going on offense from this point forward and were completely shut out in the second half.
Jacksonville vs. Indianapolis
The situation: Jaguars trailing 29-26, 1:35 remaining in the game, 3rd and 1 from the IND 35 – After official review, Jaguars play ruled a fumble
When Blake Bortles connected on a short pass to Rashad Greene for an apparent first down late in the Jaguars match-up with the Colts, their winning prospects were on the rise. Prior to the snap, EdjSports assessed the Jaguars to have a 30.1 percent Game-Winning Chance (GWC). However, just as Greene was about to make contact with the ground, the ball came loose and was recovered by Indianapolis. As the Colts’ Malik Hooker was racing toward the opposite end zone, the play was blown dead. The initial ruling on the field showed the runner down by contact. However, after an official review, the play was ruled a fumble. This turned out to be the most impactful GWC swing on a single play during Week 10. Instead of improving the Jaguars’ GWC from 30.1 percent to 44.1 percent (14.0 percent), the reversal improved the Colts’ GWC from 69.9 percent to 99.7 percent (29.8 percent). With the Colts now taking over with a 1st and 10 on their own 25-yard line and the Jaguars retaining only a single time out, the Jaguars could only watch as their GWC evaporated and the Colts simply ran out the clock.
Perhaps the only group more disappointed than the Jacksonville faithful, were the sportsbooks. When the referee’s whistle incorrectly blew the play dead and prevented Malik Hooker from scoring a touchdown, it assured the game of resulting in a push. As the Colts were 3-point favorites, the sportsbooks had to return the wagers to both sides of the betting public. Any result other than a 3-point victory by the Colts would have allowed the sportsbooks to retain approximately 5 percent of the total dollars wagered.