If it seems like the Green Bay Packers haven't played a whole lot of snaps in high-leverage situations so far in 2015, you're right. Believe it or not, no single play during the team's first six games changed the likelihood of one team winning by more than 15%. To put that in context, there were five plays during the last three minutes of regulation and overtime of the 2014 NFC Championship Game that changed the Expected Win Percentage by 20% or more.
Generally, extremely high-leverage plays tend to happen in the fourth quarter of close games, and the Packers haven't had many situations in which their lead was seven points or less in the last few minutes of the game this season. That combined with the fact that they're 6-0 is definitely a good thing - not only are they winning, but they're generally winning comfortably.
However, with a bye on the Packers' schedule for this weekend, we thought it would still be interesting to see which individual plays had the greatest impact on the Packers' 6-0 start.
Note that these numbers are taken from Pro Football Reference's Win Probability Model, which takes into account only the score, point spread, down, distance, and field position. Check here for more about that model if you are curious.
In any case, here are the five plays that most increased the Packers' chance of winning so far in 2015 and the five that most hurt their likelihood of emerging victorious in that game.
SEA 17, GB 16. 4Q, 15:00 remaining. 2nd and 15, GB 15: Aaron Rodgers pass complete short left to Randall Cobb for 18 yards.
This play seems like a surprising choice for the top spot, but on second thought it makes sense. Down a point, the Packers had a second and long deep in their own territory. This conversion got Green Bay out of a long-yardage situation and moved the likelihood of a Packers win from a 42.6% chance to just over 55%.
GB 17, CHI 16. 4Q, 14:31 remaining. 4th and 1, CHI 40: James Starks left guard for 3 yards.
Admit it - you didn't think a play from the Bears game would be this close to the top of this list. Still, the Packers' ability to convert on fourth down early in the fourth with a one-point lead was the second-biggest play of the team's first six games by this metric. It took the game from roughly a 68% likelihood of a Packers win to nearly 80%.
GB 24, SEA 17. 4Q, 6:50 remaining. 1st and 10, SEA 42: Russell Wilson pass incomplete short right intended for Marshawn Lynch is intercepted by Jayrone Elliott at SEA 39 and returned for 1 yard.
Do we need to discuss this one much? Elliott's alert pick gave the Packers the chance to extend their lead to two scores (which they did) rather than allow a screen pass to Lynch. In fact, this play might have been bigger than any here by virtue of what it prevented rather than just the result - Lynch had substantial running room and if he had caught the ball and a little luck, he might have even scored the tying touchdown.
SEA 17, GB 13. 3Q, 6:21 remaining. 2nd and 4, GB 26: James Starks right tackle for 35 yards.
Starks' big run instantly put the Packers on the edge of field goal range while down four points to the Seahawks midway through the third quarter.
GB 10, SEA 3. 2Q, 0:51 remaining. 2nd and 17, GB 13. Aaron Rodgers pass incomplete deep right intended for Ty Montgomery. Penalty on Richard Sherman: Defensive Pass Interference, 52 yards. Penalty on Michael Bennett: Defensive Offside (declined)
Rodgers draws Bennett offsides and heaves a deep ball to the rookie Montgomery, who is interfered with at the Seattle 35. The Packers extended their lead by a field goal at the end of the drive, just before the end of the half.
GB 24, CHI 16. Q4, 9:00 remaining. 3rd and 7 CHI 34: Jay Cutler pass complete short left to Marquess Wilson.
Instead of forcing a punt with an eight-point lead, the Packers let the Bears eat up half of the field in one play and suddenly needed a red zone stop to preserve their lead. They were able to get it, holding on fourth and goal from the two, but this play was a huge momentum-changer and took the Packers' win probability down from 95% to just 80% with one throw.
GB 17, SD 17. Q3 5:37 Remaining. 4th and 1 SD 49: Penalty on Mike Daniels: Encroachment, 5 yards (no play).
It's a tie game well into the third quarter. The Chargers just picked up nine yards on third and ten to fall just short of midfield and a first down. They rush up to the line of scrimmage and...Philip Rivers delivers a hard count, drawing Mike Daniels over the line, with serious gusto. This play dropped the Packers' odds of winning from 68.2% to 55.5%, the second-biggest single drop of any play all season long.
GB 14, STL 7. Q2 4:10 remaining. 1st and 10 STL 40: Aaron Rodgers pass incomplete short right intended for James Jones is intercepted by Trumaine Johnson at STL 38 and returned for 29 yards.
Rodgers' second pick of the game was a great jump on the route by Johnson, and set up the Rams with good field position and a chance to tie the game with a touchdown.
GB 10, SEA 3. Q2, 9:05 remaining. 2nd and 5 GB 47: Aaron Rodgers pass complete short left to James Starks for no gain. James Starks fumbles (forced by K.J. Wright), recovered by K.J. Wright at GB 47.
Though this seriously threatened the Packers' 7-point lead, the defense was able to hold thanks in part to a personal foul penalty on Seahawks guard J.R. Sweezy. However, it felt like a huge swing at the time.
GB 7, CHI 3. Q2, 9:29 remaining. 4th and 1 GB 5: Matt Forte right tackle for 1 yard.
One play before, Sam Shields had committed an offside penalty on a 4th-and-6 field goal attempt, allowing the Bears to go for it on fourth and one instead. They converted this play and eventually scored a touchdown on the next set of downs to take a 10-7 lead.