Week 1, Browns at Eagles
4th-and-5, 14:53 remaining in 2nd quarter, Down by 7
The Browns went for it on a 4th-and-5 on their 41. The NYT 4th Down bot thinks that’s a great idea, although punting would have been fine, too.
If you disagree

I lean slightly towards punting, but I don’t have strong feelings here – my numbers tell me that either punting or going for it could be the best play. Specifically, going for it would be the right call if you think the Browns’ chances of converting on fourth down are greater than 48 percent. (Based on my analysis, I’d give the Browns a 44 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
Punt 18% 18% -
Go for it4th and 5, own 41 44% 18% 17% –1%
Field goal try76 yard kick (est.) <1% 18% 12% –6%
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-5 on own 41
Down by 7 with 14:53 remaining in the 2nd quarter
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

Duke Johnson Jr. rush to the right for a loss of 6 yards to the Cle35. Tackled by Kamu Grugier-Hill.

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!