We are sports data scientists with a deeper, faster, more accurate analysis of the game’s most critical decisions. Our EdjFootball model assesses a team’s Game-Winning Chance (GWC) or win probability at any moment of the game. Each week we analyze the NFL games and bring you the most interesting scenarios, including play execution and coaching decisions and how they affect a team’s GWC. Here are our most notable plays for NFL Week 12.
Green Bay vs. Minnesota
The situation: GB trailing 14-24, 2:25 left in the 4th quarter, 4th and 1 from the MIN 20 – Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy decides to attempt a field goal instead of going for it on fourth down
Although McCarthy has been the target of criticism in recent weeks for his fourth down decision making, the EdjFootball model supports his decision in this particular situation. By kicking the field goal, the Packers retained 1.5 percent GWC whereas going for it would have dropped their GWC down to 1.0 percent. With limited time, only one timeout, and trailing by 10 points, this decision gave the Packers the best chance to quickly tie the game. McCarthy followed up the made field goal with an attempted onside kick. This decision improved the Packers GWC to 2.3 percent. This was also the right call as a regular kickoff would have dropped their GWC down to 1.7 percent.
Carolina vs. Seattle
The situation: Scoreless game, 7:23 left in the 1st quarter, 4th and 2 from the SEA 5 – Ron Rivera keeps his offense on the field to go for it on fourth down
On the Panthers’ opening drive of the game, Ron Rivera made an aggressive play call by going for it on fourth down just 5 yards from the end zone. The Panthers needed 2 yards to pick up a first down on the play, so the decision could have succeeded by either scoring or picking up a first and goal. Coach Rivera’s decision is supported by the EdjFootball model. A field goal attempt would have been a 4.1 percent error that reduced the Panthers’ Game-Winning Chance (GWC) from 83.6 percent to 79.5 percent. With Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey in the backfield, it would seem that Carolina is particularly well equipped for short yardage situations. Unfortunately for Rivera, the outcome of his decision did not succeed. Cam Newton kept the ball, ran to the right, and was only able to gain 1 yard. The game remained tied as Seattle took over from deep in their own territory.