Week 17, Jaguars at Texans
4th-and-8, 11:19 remaining in 4th quarter, Up by 14
The Texans attempted a field goal on a 4th-and-8 on the Jaguars’ 32. It doesn’t matter to NYT 4th Down Bot.
If you disagree

Well, this is weird — it seems that the Texans’ chances of winning are about the same no matter what they do. I lean very slightly toward attempting a field goal, 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
Field goal try49 yard kick (est.) 66% 96% 96% -
Go for it4th and 8, opp. 32 34% 96% 96% -
Punt 96% 96% -
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-8 on opp. 32
Up by 14 with 11:19 remaining in the 4th quarter
Behind my field goal number
What coaches usually do
Field goal try 64% of the time
Punt 32% of the time
Go for it 5% of the time
Based on about 1,135 fourth downs in similar situations since 2001.
What happened

50 yard field goal attempt by Nick Novak is NO GOOD. 50 yard field goal attempt by Nick Novak is NO GOOD.

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!