Week 16, Packers at Cardinals
4th-and-5, 3:32 remaining in 4th quarter, Down by 30
The Packers punted on a 4th-and-5 on their 46. It doesn’t matter to NYT 4th Down Bot.

No matter what happens on this play, the Packers 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, I’m taking a break from the game for a spot of Earl Grey.) Here’s the breakdown for the Packers’ scenario.

Option Chance of converting
Chance of winning
Before play
After play Change
Go for it4th and 5, own 46 44% <1% <1% -
Punt <1% <1% -
Field goal try71 yard kick (est.) <1% <1% <1% -
What coaches usually do
Punt 85% of the time
Go for it 15% of the time
Field goal try -
Based on about 1,229 fourth downs in similar situations since 2001.
What happened

Tim Masthay punts for 39 yards to Ari15. Tim Masthay punts for 39 yards to Ari15.

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!