Week 6, Texans at Jaguars
4th-and-11, 4:39 remaining in 4th quarter, Down by 17
The Jaguars went for it on a 4th-and-11 on the Texans’ 11. The NYT 4th Down bot mentally high-fives that call, although attempting a field goal would have been fine, too.
If you disagree

I lean slightly towards attempting a field goal, but I don’t have strong feelings here – my numbers tell me that either attempting a field goal or going for it could be the best play. Specifically, going for it would be the right call if you think the Jaguars’ chances of converting on fourth down are at least 20 percent. (Based on my analysis, I’d give the Jaguars a 18 percent chance to get a first down here.)

Here's the full breakdown of my calculations:

Option Chance of converting
Chance of winning
Before play
After play Change
Field goal try28 yard kick (est.) 94% 3% 3% -
Go for it4th and 11, opp. 11 18% 3% 3% -
Punt 3% 2% –1%
Behind my field goal number
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

Blake Bortles pass to the left to Allen Hurns for 11 yards for a TOUCHDOWN.

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!