For this week’s analysis of decisions, let’s take a look back at the last three series in the Packers vs Colts game.
Packers 4th down Decision…
With 5:16 remaining in the 4th quarter and trailing the Colts by 3 points (both teams had all their timeouts), the Packers faced a 1st and 10 at the Colts 43-yard line. And, based on our EdjSports Power Indexes (EPIs), the Packers were in 4-down territory if they ended up facing a 4th and 10 or less.
GB ended up facing a 4th and 1 and Coach LaFleur made the correct call. His decision to go for it increased the Packers (pre-snap) win probability by +8%. Based on how these teams match up and the game state, a decision to go for it comes with an expectation for the Packers to go on to win the game 39% of the time and a decision to attempt a FG only comes with an expectation to go on to win the game 31% of the time.
Despite the Packers failing to successfully execute on this attempt, Coach LaFleur’s decision to go for it was correct.
Penalties, Accept or Decline…
During the next drive, with 2:09 remaining in the 4th quarter the Colts faced a 2nd and 20 at the IND 48-yard line. On this play the Colts were flagged for an Illegal Motion penalty. However, the Packers made the correct decision by declining this penalty.
By declining the penalty, the Packers actually increased their win probability by +5%. For the Packers, on this penalty decision time is more valuable than the resulting field position – the time associated with providing the Colts with another down (by accepting the penalty) is more valuable than backing the Colts up 10 yards.
Colts 4th down decision…
After GB declined the penalty, on 3rd and 19 the Colts gained 15 yards. As a result, with 1:58 remaining in the 4th quarter and leading by 3 points the Colts faced a 4th and 4 from the GB 36-yard line.
Coach Reich made the correct call by deciding to go for it. The decision increased the Colts (pre-snap) win probability by +11%. Based on the match up and the game state, if the Colts go for it, they are expected to go on to win the game 74% of the time and if they punt, they are expected to go on to win the game 63% of the time. This was our “Best Call” of the weekend.
After successfully converting on 4th and 4, the Colts went on to commit several penalties, GB used 2 of their 3 timeouts, and the Colts punted on a 4th and 26.
To Spike or Not to Spike…
With 1:25 remaining in the 4th quarter and still trailing by 3 points (and down to 1 timeout), the Packers faced a 1st and 10 from the GB 6-yard line. Six plays, 42 seconds, 79-yards, and 1 timeout later the Packers were facing a 1st and 10 at the IND 15-yard line.
The chart below shows the Packers win probability on 1st and 10, based on how much time remains in the 4th quarter (i.e. with 0 timeouts, if GB can get the 1st down play off with 0:40 seconds remaining their win probability is just above 64%, but if GB doesn’t get the play off until 0:20 seconds remaining, their win probability is just under 57%). The red line indicates the GB win probability (59%) on 2nd and 10, and assumes they spiked the ball with 0:42 seconds remaining (actual play).
From this chart we can see that, in this instance, GB’s win probability on 1st down was above the win probability associated with spiking the ball until the 0:22 seconds remain mark. In other words, the Packers win probability on 1st and 10 with 22 seconds remaining is the same as their win probability on 2nd and 10 with 42 seconds remaining. The Packers had 20 seconds to execute a 1st down play, and spiking the ball in this situation was a missed opportunity.
All in all, both of these teams faced some challenging decisions. In the heat of the moment, whether it’s a decision to GO or kick on 4th down, accept or decline a penalty, or spiking the ball versus running another play, customized analytics can help coaches quickly identify the best course of action among an otherwise overwhelming number of possible choices.
Notable High School Calls of the Week
IMG Academy Ascenders (FL) vs Tru Prep Academy Saints (FL)
On the opening drive of the game, the Ascenders faced 4th & Goal at the Tru Prep 2-yd line. IMG Academy Coach Acosta made the decision to go for it instead of attempting the FG. The decision increased the Ascenders (pre-snap) win probability by +4%.
Kapuan-Mt. Carmel Crusaders (KS) vs Northwest Grizzlies (KS)
Trailing 14-20 with 10:53 remaining in regulation, the Crusaders faced a 4th and 7 at the Grizzlies 18-yard line. By deciding to go for it, Coach Spicer increased the Crusader’s (pre-snap) win probability by 6%.
Great calls Coaches!
Submit your play of the week here.
Once again, analytics show that good calls aren’t always conventional and don’t always result in wins and bad calls don’t always result in loses. The one sure thing is that 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 www.edjvarsity.com.