NFL Week 1 Best & Worst Decisions and Execution 2021 - EdjVarsity

NFL Week 1 Best & Worst Decisions and Execution 2021

It’s good to finally have football games again!

And a quick comparison of 4th down “GO” attempts during Week 1 of the last 3 regular seasons shows that more and more teams are embracing analytics and deciding to go-for-it. Note that the numbers below only include attempts before the 2 min mark of the 4th quarter, where the team on offense had a pre-snap win probability between 10% and 90%. In other words, the outcome of the game was still in question.

The increase in Week 1 “GO” attempts from last year to this year represents a 43% increase. The increase from 2019 to 2020 represents a whopping 130% increase. Long story short, analytics are here to stay, and we expect this adoption to continue. 

BEST Decision – MIN vs CIN

With 40 seconds remaining in overtime, the Bengals faced a 4th and 1 from the CIN 48. Coach Taylor made the correct call by deciding to go for it. The decision increased the Bengals (pre-snap) win probability by 11%.

Based on our EdjSports Power Index (EPIs) and the game state, teams that go for it, go on to win the game 58% of the time and teams that punt, go on to win the game 47% of the time. 

Coach Taylor’s resolve is even more impressive considering his team failed to convert a 4th and 1 attempt earlier in the game from deep in their own territory, at the CIN 30 – it’s because he has the right perspective. In his post-game comments, Coach Taylor said “…thought we could go steal the game on that play. Wish I would’ve called the 4th down play we used in OT. We’re going to be aggressive and try to send a message. Don’t regret decision, just regret the play I called.”

WORST Decision – DAL vs TB

With 1:29 remaining in the game and trailing by 2, the Cowboys faced a 4th and 6 from the TB 30. Coach McCarthy made and error by deciding to attempt the FG. The decision cost the Cowboys 6% in (pre-snap) win probability. 

Based on our EPIs and the game state, teams the attempt the FG, go on to win the game 34% of the time and teams that go for it, go on to win the game 40% of the time. 

Notable High School Games of the Week

Congrats to two of the best high school programs leveraging analytics.

Rockwall Yellow Jackets (TX) vs Lake Travis Cavaliers (TX)

Congrats to Rockwall for their 59-35 victory over Lake Travis!

Milton Eagles (GA) vs St. Joseph’s Prep (PA)

Kudos to Coach Clack and Milton for their willingness to play anyone, anywhere.  Great 28-21 victory on the road over St. Josephs Prep.

Submit your play of the week here

Bottom Line

Every decision matters and it’s important to make the ones that give your team the best chance to win the game. For more information about how coaches are using analytics to make better decisions, visit