Each week coaches around the country are faced with real-time critical calls. By evaluating how teams manage their win probability, you can learn how to optimize future decisions and give your team the best chance to win.
Let’s a take a look at one of the best and worst decisions from Week 11 in the NFL.
Best DECISION – ARI vs SF
With 10:55 remaining in the 2nd quarter, 1 timeout, and leading by 9, the Cardinals faced a 4th and 1 from the SF 34. The Cardinals were a huge underdog in this game and staying aggressive gave them the best chance to win this game. By deciding to go-for-it, Coach Kingsbury made the correct call and increased the Cardinals (pre-snap) win probability by +5%.
Our Edj Power Indexes (EPI’s) had the Cardinals rush offense ranked well above league average and the 49ers rush defense ranked at league average (the 49ers pass defense, on the other hand, is the best in the league). Based on our EPI’s and the game state, teams that go-for-it, go on to win the game 47% of the time and teams that attempt a FG, go on to win the game 42% of the time. The Cardinals correct play calling decisions made this a very close and exciting game.
Worst DECISION – DET vs DAL
With 13:45 remaining in the 4th quarter, 3 timeouts, and trailing by 6, the Lions faced a 4th and 10 from the DAL 43. By deciding to punt, Coach Patricia made an error that cost the Lions -3% in win probability. Our EPI’s had the Lions pass offense ranked above league average and their rush offense as well below league average. The Cowboys pass defense ranked at league average and their rush defense at slightly above league average. Based on the EdjSports EPI’s and the game state, teams that go-for-it, go on to win the game 21% of the time and teams that punt only go on to win the game 18% of the time.
If the Lions had been using analytics, ON 1ST DOWN they would have understood that they were in four-down territory even if they ended up facing a 4th and 10. At the very least, this information could have been used to proactively set up a more manageable 4th down situation, since on 3rd down defenses are usually willing to give up anything less than the yardage needed to gain a 1st down.
The Lions are currently sitting at 3-6-1 and in last place in the NFC North. Heading into Week 11, we had the Lions ranked 27th in our 2019 EdjSports NFL Coach Rankings. With the final score difference in 9 of their 10 games within one score (8 points or less), it’s not hard to imagine a much better record with better decision making in these close games.
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Images via USA Today Sports.