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 13 in the NFL.
Best Decision – BAL vs SF
With 4:39 remaining in the 4th quarter, 2 timeouts, and the game tied, the Ravens faced a 4th and 1 from their own 44-yard line. By deciding to go-for-it, Coach Harbaugh made the correct call and increased the Ravens (pre-snap) win probability by 19%. Our Edj Power Indexes (EPIs) had the Ravens rush offense ranked as the best in the league (#1) and the 49ers rush defense ranked as league average (#15). Based on our EPI’s and the game state, teams that go-for-it, go on to win the game 71% of the time and teams that punt, go on to win the game 52% of the time.
Good teams are using analytics to proactively identify the optimal 4th down play type decision (GO, FG, Punt) and to understand how much win probability is at stake. The best teams and coaches are taking it to another level. This week the Ravens gave us several good examples as to why they are consistently among the best…
In addition to the week’s best decision, with 5:38 remaining in the 2nd quarter, 3 timeouts, and the game tied, the Ravens faced a 3rd and 6 from the SF 42. Coach Harbaugh used this 3rd down play as an opportunity to set up a manageable 4th down. The play call was a Run-Pass-Option (RPO) and QB Lamar Jackson ended up keeping it and running for 4 yards. Now, facing 4th and 2 the Ravens went for it without hesitation, and converted. Decisions like these are a great example of why Coach Harbaugh is ranked #1 in the 2019 EdjSports Coach Rankings.
Worst Decision – DET vs CHI
With 10:51 remaining in the 4th quarter, 3 timeouts, and the game tied, the Lions faced a 4th and 1 at the CHI 5-yard line. By deciding to attempt a FG, Coach Patricia made an error that cost the Lions -7% in (pre-snap) win probability. Our EPIs had the Lions rush offense ranked well below league average (28th) and the Bears rush defense rush defense ranked at league average (16th). Based on these EPIs and the game state, teams that go-for-it, go on to win the game 70% of the time and teams that attempt a FG, go on to win the game 63% of the time. The Lions continue to lose close games, in part, as a result of decision making errors.
As a result of our work with NFL teams (including Super Bowl champions), we know how to support coaches at every level, with better decision-making tools that are easy-to-use and understand.
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Images via USA Today Sports.