No matter what happens on this play, the Eagles 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 Eagles’ scenario.
|Option||Chance of converting||
Chance of winningBefore play
|Go for it4th and 12, own 40||21%||<1%||<1%||-|
|Field goal tryA really, really long kick||<1%||<1%||<1%||-|
|Punt||90% of the time|
|Go for it||10% of the time|
|Field goal try||-|
Donnie Jones punts for 44 yards to Det16.
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!