Philadelphia vs. Minnesota
Pederson Goes for 2PAT, Down 8
After the Eagles cut into the Vikings two-touchdown lead early in the 4th quarter, they decided to take a controversial approach to their PAT decision. Doug Pederson opted to go for two instead of the more conventional kick prompting the commentators to ‘scratch their heads’. Upon a closer look, the Eagles decision makes perfect sense. While there are many variations that can result in a win, the most direct path is for the Eagles to prevent the Vikings from scoring again and to score a touchdown for themselves before the end of regulation. This simplistic approach to the analysis reveals that their 2PAT attempt needs to have a success rate of ½ of the PAT to boost their overall GWC% (Game-Winning Chance). A fair assumption for the kick is approximately 94% and therefore the Eagles only need to make the 2PAT 47% of the time to make it the correct decision. An extensive simulation of the EdjFootball model concurs with the choice and shows it to produce approximately 1% more wins on average.
Houston vs. Dallas
Cowboys Punt on 4th and 1 in OT
While the Eagles 2PAT decision may have been controversial to some, it pales in comparison to the Cowboys choice to punt on 4th and 1 in OT. Extensive studies have shown it is very often correct to go for it on 4th and 1, regardless of the game state. Here, we have a situation in OT where the importance of a score is magnified, and the ball is already in opposing territory. This decision is simply one of the costliest errors we have ever seen by a play-caller. An extensive simulation by EdjFootball model reveals the Cowboys squandered nearly 20% GWC by opting for the punt over going for it on 4th down.
Carolina vs. New York Giants
Gano Converts a 63-yard Field Goal Attempt
Graham Gano’s day was a stark contrast to his Green Bay counterpart. In a pressure packed situation, he made an extremely difficult 63-yard kick to win the game for the Carolina Panthers. Due to the extreme high leverage of the situation, Gano’s kick was worth 80% GWC to his team.
Seattle vs. Los Angeles Rams
McVay Goes for It
In his second season with the Rams, McVay seems to be one of the more progressive-minded head coaches in the NFL. McVay’s peers would have likely handled this same decision much more conservatively. He decided to keep the offense on the field and go for it on this fourth down in order to ice the game away. Historically, NFL offenses convert these fourth downs about 70% of the time. With just a 2-point lead in their own territory, the EdjFootball simulation model actually favors a punt in this situation. It is possible that the Rams’ offense, which is among the NFL’s best, has a higher success rate in these scenarios which would mitigate the GWC differences between these two alternatives. Regardless, the Rams were heavy favorites at the time; the model assessed the Rams’ GWC to be over 90% in either scenario.