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 2 in the NFL.
Best Decision – IND vs TEN
With 2:24 remaining, in the 4th quarter, 2 timeouts (TEN also had 2 timeouts), and leading by 2, the Colts faced a 4th and 1 at their own 35-yard line. By deciding to go for it, Coach Reich made the correct call and increased the Colts (pre-snap) win probability by +28%.
Our Edj Power Indexes (EPIs) had this as an equal matchup, with the Colts rush offense ranked above league average (#11) and the Titans rush defense also ranked above league average (#9). Based on our EPIs and the game state, teams that go for it, go on to win the game 76% of the time and teams that punt, only go on to win the game 48% of the time.
By successfully converting this 4th and 1 attempt, the Colts forced the Titans to burn their final 2 timeouts, as IND ground the clock down to just over 1-minute remaining. If the Colts had been unsuccessful on the 4th and 1 attempt, the Titans still would have been faced with gaining a 1st down (or close too) to get within comfortable FG range – and even then the Colts, with their 2 timeouts, likely would have gotten the ball back with time to mount a FG drive of their own, and a chance to win the game.
In terms of the amount of win probability, the 28% at stake on this play was a huge decision and Coach Reich make the correct call.
Worst Decision – OAK vs KC
With 12:36 remaining in the 2nd quarter, 2 timeouts, and leading by 3, the Raiders faced a 4th and 1 at their own 46-yard line. By deciding to punt, Coach Gruden made an error that cost the Raiders -7% in (pre-snap) win probability.
Our EPIs had OAK with a slight advantage in this matchup, with the Raiders rush offense ranked below league average (#21) and the Chiefs rush defense ranked among the league’s worst (#30). Based on our EPIs and the game state, teams that punt only go on to win the game 48% of the time and teams that go for it, go on to win the game 55% of the time.
Going into this game, in addition to a slight advantage in the run game, our EPIs also gave the OAK offense a slight advantage in the pass game versus the KC defense (#11 vs #22). However, the OAK defense was at a strong disadvantage versus the KC offense in both the run game (#20 vs #4) and the pass game (#29 vs #2).
In other words, to win this game OAK needed to be aggressive (especially on 4th and short situations to minimize the number of KC possessions) and to put a premium on scoring TDs as opposed to settling for FG attempts.
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Images via USA Today Sports.