In an ESPN blog-post, Bill Belichick’s decision to go for it on 4th down against the San Diego Chargers was analyzed, and the ultimate conclusion was that, by a few percentage points, this was wrong decision. Last season, Belichick was second-guessed after a similar decision led to a Patriot loss to the Colts. Interestingly, a similar analysis deemed that particular decision to be correct.
The idea of applying serious risk-reward analyses to football seems to increasing in popularity, even though a rigorous study by a world-class economist was conducted nearly 10 years ago .
The author at ESPN utilized a Win Calculator at the Advanced NFL Stats website. It’s a pretty cool idea–input the current score, time remaining, quarter, field position, down and distance, and the calculator returns Win Probability, Expected Score, and some other projected data.
Of course, the devil’s in the details–that is, the algorithms–but it’s cool to see the quantitative analysis of sports continue to spread.