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Monday, October 31, 2011
2011 Week 8: NFC West game changers

By Mike Sando

The Arizona Cardinals hoped young pass-rushers Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield would develop as the 2011 season progressed.

That appears to be happening during a season when player development has become a more realistic goal than overall team success. Acho and Schofield have combined for three sacks and two forced fumbles over the Cardinals' past two games.

Schofield's sack and forced fumble against Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens was the NFC West's most pivotal play in Week 8, measured by its affect on win probability, according to ESPN's analytics team. The play improved the Cardinals' chances from 43.9 percent to 66.9 percent, based on how similar plays in similar situations have affected previous games.

The 23-point differential placed Schofield's sack and Darnell Dockett's fumble recovery at the Baltimore 2-yard line atop the NFC West list this week. All five plays stemmed from the Ravens' 30-27 victory, which featured the NFL's fifth comeback victory this season from at least 20 points down. That is an NFL record.

Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb shows up twice on the chart, once for a positive play and once for a negative one. Consistency has eluded him.

League-wide, Cam Newton's 44-yard pass to Brandon LaFell on fourth-and-15 with 1:09 remaining produced the largest change in win probability, 38.5 points (from 18.9 percent to 57.4 percent). Carolina trailed by three points at the time.

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