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 8 in the NFL.
In this analysis of the BEST and WORST decisions this week in the NFL – both occurred in the teams’ own territory…
Best Decision – Texans vs Raiders
With 12:42 remaining in the third quarter, 3 timeouts, and trailing 10-14, the Texans faced a 4th and 1 from their own 34-yard line. Coach O’Brien made the correct call by deciding to go-for-it. His decision increased the Texans (pre-snap) win probability by 5%. Our Edj Power Indexes (EPI’s) had the Texans rushing offense ranked slightly above league average and the Raiders rush defense ranked at league average. Based on these rankings and the game state, teams that go-for-it, go on to win the game 51% of the time and teams that punt only go on to win the game 46% of the time. Decisions like this are part of the reason the Texans went on to win this game.
Worst Decision – Chargers vs Bears
With 1:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, 3 timeouts, and leading 17-16, the Chargers faced a 4th and 1 from their own 24-yard line. While conventional wisdom focuses on the resulting field position if the Charges don’t convert this 4th down attempt, advanced analytics evaluate the likelihoods of all of the possible outcomes (including, the Chargers can run out the clock out if they convert, if the Chargers fail to convert they can use their 3 timeouts on defense in an attempt to gain another possession, the Bears can make the FG, the Bears can miss the FG, etc). Coach Lynn made a huge error by deciding to punt. His decision cost the Chargers -26% in (pre-snap) win probability – that’s over a quarter of a game!!!
Our EPI’s had the Chargers rushing offense ranked well below league average and the Bears rush defense ranked at league average. Based on these rankings and the game state, teams that go-for-it, go on to win the game 73% of the time and teams that punt only go on to win the game 47% of the time. Despite winning the game, this decision is one of the biggest errors of the season.
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Images via USA Today Sports.