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 Wild Card Weekend in the NFL.
BEST Decision – HOU vs BUF
With 1:21 remaining in the 4th quarter, 3 timeouts (BUF had 0 timeouts), and leading by 3, the Texans faced a 4th and 1 at the BUF 30-yard line. Coach O’Brien made the correct call by deciding to go-for-it and increased the Texans (pre-snap) win probability by +7%. Our Edj Power Indexes (EPIs) had the Texans rush offense ranked at league average (#16) and the Bills rush defense also ranked at league average (#15). Based on our EPIs and the game state, teams that go-for-it, go on to win the game 92% of the time and teams that punt, go on to win the game 85% of the time.
WORST Decision – NE vs TEN
With 3:17 remaining in the 4th quarter, 3 timeouts, and trailing by 1, the Patriots faced a 4th and 4 from the NE 37-yard line. By deciding to punt, Coach Belichick made an error that cost the Patriots -19% in (pre-snap) win probability. That’s a huge error!
Our EPIs had the NE rush offense ranked at league average (#15) versus a TEN rush defense that ranked above league average (#9). And, our EPIs had the NE pass offense ranked below league average (#20) versus a TEN pass defense that also ranked below league average (#23). In short, the Patriots offense was at a disadvantage in the run game and matched up equally in the pass game, against the TEN defense. Based on our EPIs and the game state, teams that go-for-it, go on to win the game 44% of the time and teams that punt, only go on to win the game 25% of the time.
Arguably one of the best coaches in the history of the game (he also finished ranked 3rd in this season’s EdjSports Coach Rankings), Coach Belichick had an uncharacteristically error prone day. As a result of his decision-making errors, the Patriots cost themselves a total of -33% in (pre-snap) win probability. This was the second highest cumulative total for any game this season.
Bottom Line… every decision matters.
As teams become more evenly matched in the playoffs, coaching decisions will play a major role in determining which teams make deep runs and which teams make early exits.
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Images via USA Today Sports.