Week 3, 49ers at Seahawks
4th-and-2, 13:35 remaining in 3rd quarter, Down by 21
The 49ers punted on a 4th-and-2 on their 43. It doesn’t matter to NYT 4th Down Bot.

No matter what happens on this play, the 49ers will almost certainly lose 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
Go for it4th and 2, own 43 56% <1% <1% -
Punt <1% <1% -
Field goal try74 yard kick (est.) <1% <1% <1% -
What coaches usually do
Punt 62% of the time
Go for it 38% of the time
Field goal try -
Based on about 1,237 fourth downs in similar situations since 2001.
What happened

Bradley Pinion punts for 50 yards to Sea7. Bradley Pinion punts for 50 yards to Sea7.

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!