With the NFL playoff teams now set, let’s take a look at how each team performed during the Regular Season.
For the purposes of this comparison, we’ll use win probability (net gains/losses) through Week 16, to evaluate each team’s execution on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd downs (i.e. measure effectiveness). Notes: plays that had an impact on win probability >20% or <-20% were removed, because this very small number of plays can skew the results and be misleading. Also, team totals can exceed 100% or be negative values because the results reflect the cumulative totals for each of these teams (by down), over the course of the Regular Season.
On the charts below, the horizontal axis represents the down and the vertical axis represents cumulative win probability gains/losses.
On offense, KC and CLE were the two most consistently effective AFC teams, as both teams had cumulative win probability increases above 50% on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd downs. Heading into the playoffs, IND will need to execute better on 1st downs. BAL will need to do the same on 2nd downs (by far the lowest result of any of the AFC teams at -60%). And, PIT and TEN will need to improve on 3rd downs.
On defense, PIT was the most effective AFC team, executing especially well on 1st and 2nd downs. Heading into the playoffs, IND will need to execute better on 1st and 2nd downs. BAL will need to do the same on 2nd downs. And, TEN will need to do the same on 3rd downs.
On offense GB was the most consistently effective NFC team, with NO and TB not far behind. Heading into the playoffs, WAS will need to execute better on 1st downs, LA will need to do the same on 2nd downs, and SEA and will need to do the same on 3rd downs. CHI will need to do better on 2nd and 3rd downs.
On defense, LA and GB were the most consistently effective NFC teams, with LA executing especially well on 2nd and 3rd downs and GB executing well on 1st and 3rd downs. Heading into the playoffs, SEA will need to execute better on 2nd and 3rd downs. CHI, TB, WAS, and NO will need to do better on 3rd downs.
As the stakes get higher (i.e. win and advance or lose and go home), decisions and execution will become even more critical as the margins for error decrease.
Notable High School Calls of the Week
Grayson Rams (GA) vs. Collins Hill Eagles (GA)
With 1:41 remaining in the opening quarter of the Georgia 7A State Championship game, Coach Carter and the Rams led 7-0 and faced a 4th and 2 at the Eagles 12-yard line. By deciding to go for the first down instead of attempting the FG, Coach Carter increased the Rams’ (pre-snap) win probability by +4%. Grayson would go on to win the 7A State title 38-14.
Cedar Hill Longhorns (TX) vs. Rockwall-Heath Hawks (TX)
Trailing 14-21 with 5:50 left in the 4th quarter, the Longhorns faced a 4th and 3 at the Hawks 18-yard line. Coach Lynn made the correct call by deciding to go for the first down, increasing the Longhorns’ (pre-snap) win probability by +5%.
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.
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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