Week 1, Titans at Bucs
4th-and-16, 2:18 remaining in 4th quarter, Down by 28
The Bucs went for it on a 4th-and-16 on the Titans’ 16. It doesn’t matter to NYT 4th Down Bot.

No matter what happens on this play, the Bucs will almost certainly lose the game. In situations like these, what happens on this down is basically inconsequential, so there's no real recommendation here. (In fact, instead of watching the game, I’m playing this nifty New York Times Crossword app, which is not at all difficult to operate with my hands.) Here’s the breakdown for the Bucs’ scenario.

Option Chance of converting
Chance of winning
Before play
After play Change
Field goal try33 yard kick (est.) 89% <1% <1% -
Go for it4th and 16, opp. 16 10% <1% <1% -
Punt <1% <1% -
What coaches usually do
Field goal try 85% of the time
Go for it 15% of the time
Punt -
Based on about 729 fourth downs in similar situations since 2001.
What happened

Jameis Winston incomplete pass to the middle intended for Vincent Jackson defensed by Daimion Stafford.

Where did these numbers come from?

To estimate a team’s chances of winning, I use a mathematical model that accounts for a whole lot of variables — including the difference in score, the time remaining in the game, and the number of timeouts each team has left. On top of that, I have models for the likelihood that a team makes a field goal and the likelihood that it will convert a first down.

By combining all of this information, I can come up with the best decision a team can make, according to math.

If you want even more details about the numbers behind my decisions, my full model is available on GitHub. Help make me better!