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Indianapolis Colts Advanced Stat of the Week: The Cardiac Colts

Luck's scamper helped the Colts to a huge win.
Luck's scamper helped the Colts to a huge win.Dave Reginek/Getty Images
Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistFebruary 22, 2013

One-score games in the NFL tend to be coin flips. The Indianapolis Colts had the coin come up heads nine times in 10 tries in 2012.

Those close games produced some amazing finishes and some of the most exciting comebacks of the year.

Win Probability and its player-driven cousin Win Probability Added (WPA) are stats advanced by Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats. Win Probability calculates the likelihood that a team will win the game before each and every play. WPA adds up the impact that an individual player has on those odds.

For instance, a team with a 40-point lead with 45 seconds to play has a Win Probability of 100 percent. Win Probability is a stat that explains what happened after the fact. Swings in Win Probability illustrate which plays had the most impact on a game.

These plays can be charted to produce a graphical representation of the swings of NFL games. For games with twists and turns, these charts can be dynamic.

Among the most memorable games was the Colts' stunning 35-33 come-from-behind win over the Detroit Lions.

With less than three minutes remaining, the Colts trailed by 12 points and had about a one percent chance to win.

Andrew Luck responded by hitting LaVon Brazill for a 42-yard touchdown pass, and the comeback was on.

The Lions eventually punted the ball back to the Colts, and Luck put together one of the drives of the year, eventually hitting Donnie Avery with the game-winning score as time expired.

The result was a wild Win Probability graph that swung 99 percent in the final three minutes of play. Of course a side effect was that Luck's WPA score for the game was actually over 1.0. That's rare. It only happened six times all season.

Luck actually finished fourth in the NFL in WPA behind Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Tom Brady. WPA is a fun descriptive stat that helps indicate when a quarterback has participated in a lot of high-leverage plays in wins.

It's not much of a predictive stat, and it tilts toward QBs on good teams, obviously. However, in the case of Luck, it neatly sums up just how big of a contribution he made to the Colts' winning ways.

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