Week 3, Lions at Packers
4th-and-11, 5:07 remaining in 2nd quarter, Down by 21
The Lions attempted a field goal on a 4th-and-11 on the Packers’ 25. It doesn’t matter to NYT 4th Down Bot.
If you disagree

Well, this is weird — it seems that the Lions’ 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 try42 yard kick (est.) 73% 3% 3% -
Go for it4th and 11, opp. 25 26% 3% 3% -
Punt 3% 3% -
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-11 on opp. 25
Down by 21 with 5:07 remaining in the 2nd quarter
Behind my field goal number
What coaches usually do
Field goal try 59% of the time
Punt 21% of the time
Go for it 19% of the time
Based on about 1,431 fourth downs in similar situations since 2001.
What happened

43 yard field goal attempt by Matt Prater is NO GOOD. 43 yard field goal attempt by Matt Prater 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!