Week 1, Rams at 49ers
4th-and-9, 0:31 remaining in 4th quarter, Up by 28
The 49ers punted on a 4th-and-9 on their 20. It doesn’t matter to NYT 4th Down Bot.

No matter what happens on this play, the 49ers will almost certainly win 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 49ers’ scenario.

Option Chance of converting
Chance of winning
Before play
After play Change
Punt >99% >99% -
Go for it4th and 9, own 20 33% >99% >99% -
Field goal tryA really, really long kick <1% >99% >99% -
What coaches usually do

Based on about 1,805 fourth downs in similar situations since 2001.

What happened

Bradley Pinion punts for 36 yards to LA44. Bradley Pinion punts for 36 yards to LA44.

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!