Week 1, Giants at Cowboys
4th-and-1, 1:12 remaining in 4th quarter, Up by 1
The Giants punted on a 4th-and-1 on the Cowboys’ 37. A no brainer here: the NYT 4th Down Bot would have gone for it.
If you disagree

The coach’s decision to punt is the right call if you think the Giants’ chances of converting on fourth down are less than 12 percent. But based on my analysis, I’d give the Giants a 66 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
Go for it4th and 1, opp. 37 66% 70% 83% +13%
Field goal try54 yard kick (est.) 53% 70% 60% –10%
Punt 70% 57% –13%
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-1 on opp. 37
Up by 1 with 1:12 remaining in the 4th quarter
How important was this call?

If the coach had gone for it instead of punting, I estimate the Giants’ chances of winning would be about 83 percent instead of 57 percent.

What coaches usually do

Based on about 918 fourth downs in similar situations since 2001.

What happened

Brad Wing punts for 37 yards to Dal0. Brad Wing punts for 37 yards to Dal0.

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!