This week we’ll take a look at two games (KC vs NO and LV vs LAC) and how these teams executed on “high potential scoring drives”. For the purposes of this analysis, we’ll define high potential scoring drives as those where any play in a series takes place at (or inside) the opponent’s 40-yard line, and then evaluate the gain/loss in win probability from that point forward, through the end of the drive.
Leaders of the pack
In the Chiefs vs Saints game, there were a total of 10 high potential scoring drives. Eight of those drives produced TDs. There was only one FG attempt in these drives and one drive (the final high potential drive) resulted in KC kneeling on consecutive plays to run out the clock and win the game. Combined, these drives accounted for +50.7% in win probability.
KC had six high potential scoring drives. The first four of these drives resulted in TDs, increasing the Chiefs win probability by +33%. The fifth of these drives resulted in a FG attempt (the correct decision on 4th and goal from the Saints 4-yard line), and the successful conversion increased KC’s win probability by another +1.4%. The sixth of these drives resulted in Chiefs running out the clock and taking their win probability to 100%, for the win. In each of their high potential scoring drives the Chiefs increased their win probability, for a combined total of +34.5%
NO had four high potential scoring drives. They scored TDs on all of these drives, increasing their win probability by +16.2%. Despite losing, the Saints recognized that scoring TDs is critical, especially against a good team like the Chiefs.
The Chiefs and Saints are going to make the playoffs and will be a tough out for any opponent, in part because of their decision making and execution on high potential scoring drives.
On the outside looking in
In the Raiders vs Chargers game, there were a total of 14 high potential scoring drives. Seven of those drives produced TDs. Five drives resulted in FG attempts. One drive resulted in an INT and one drive resulted in a punt. Combined these drives accounted for -96.4% in win probability.
LV had six high potential scoring drives. The Raiders scored TDs on three of these drives, increasing their win probability by +31.8%. However, these gains were more than offset by the results on the other three of their drives. Two of these drives resulted in FG attempts. And, despite being successful attempts, the overall win probability for these drives actually decreased the Raiders win probability by a combined -22.1%. While this may be a little counter-intuitive, keep a couple of things in mind – when a series becomes a high potential scoring drive a team’s win probability includes the possibility of scoring a TD and/or a FG, but when a team decides to attempt a FG, any win probability gain attributed to the possibility of scoring a TD disappears. This also partially explains why FG attempts oftentimes result in only small increases or decreases in overall win probability. The Raiders INT also had a big impact, decreasing their win probability -19.2%. On high potential scoring drives, their win probability total was -47.8%
LAC had eight high potential scoring drives. The Chargers scored TDs on four of these drives, increasing their win probability by 45.8%. Like the Raiders, the gains by the Chargers were more than offset by the results on their other four high potential scoring drives. The three FG attempts (1 successful conversion and 2 misses) decreased the Chargers win probability by -84.3% and the punt decreased their win probability by -10.1%. On high potential scoring drives, their win probability total was -48.6%.
The Raiders and Chargers can’t be expected to win versus good teams with these kinds of numbers.
Long story short
There’s a reason KC and NO will be in the playoffs and LV (probably) and LAC (definitely) will not.
Notable High School Calls of the Week
Commerce Tigers (GA) vs. Irwin County Indians (GA)
With 3:40 remaining in the game and trailing 21-25, Coach Setzer and the Tigers faced a 4th and 11 on their own 34-yard line. By deciding to go for the first down Coach Setzer increased the Tigers’ (pre-snap) win probability by +4% and the successful conversion increased the Tiger’s win probability an additional +15%.
Lake Travis Cavaliers (TX) vs. Round Rock Dragons (TX)
With 8:35 remaining in the 2nd quarter and trailing 0-7, Lake Travis had a 4th & 4 at the Round Rock 40-yard line. Faced with a decision to either go for it or punt (and the potential of pinning Round Rock deep into their own territory), Coach Carter made the correct decision to go for it. The decision increased the Cavaliers (pre-snap) win probability +5%. This combination of play-call decision AND execution proved to be a key play sequence in the 1st half.
Great calls Coaches!
Have a play of the week you would like to submit or a question about a coaching situation you were in? We would love to hear from you.
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.
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