Week 16, Browns at Chiefs
4th-and-4, 4:31 remaining in 1st quarter, Up by 7
The Chiefs went for it on a 4th-and-4 on the Browns’ 32. It doesn’t matter to NYT 4th Down Bot.
If you disagree

Well, this is weird — it seems that the Chiefs’ chances of winning are about the same no matter what they do. I lean very slightly toward going for it, but I don’t have strong feelings here — just go with your gut, coach.

Here's the full breakdown of my calculations:

Option Chance of converting
Chance of winning
Before play
After play Change
Go for it4th and 4, opp. 32 48% 92% 93% +1%
Punt 92% 93% +1%
Field goal try49 yard kick (est.) 53% 92% 92% -
My decision in context

Along with some circuitry to come up with a win probability for every game situation, all you need to figure out what you should do next is an estimate of how likely you are to make a field goal or convert a first down.

My estimates for these are based on the results of thousands of similar plays, but you may think you're smarter than I am. This chart shows you how changing those estimates would change my recommendation.

What to do on 4th-and-4 on opp. 32
Up by 7 with 4:31 remaining in the 1st quarter
Behind my field goal number
What coaches usually do
Field goal try 61% of the time
Punt 28% of the time
Go for it 11% of the time
Based on about 856 fourth downs in similar situations since 2001.
What happened

Alex Smith rush up the middle for 9 yards to the Cle23. Alex Smith rush up the middle for 9 yards to the Cle23.

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!