The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

For Football Stats Geeks

William Krasker's weekly analysis is up. Often, he's truly insightful and this week was particularly good. The best item:

Minnesota at Houston (10/10/2004) [Recap]

Houston scored a TD with 3:00 left in regulation to narrow their deficit to 28-20 prior to the try for an extra point or points. Naturally Houston coach Dom Capers elected to kick the extra point, as would every coach in the League, but in this situation it's actually better to go for two. To see why, notice that up to a good approximation, Houston can win only if they score one more TD while preventing Minnesota from scoring. So for purposes of examining extra-point strategy, we can assume that scenario prevails. For simplicity, assume also that a kicked extra point is a sure thing. Under these conditions, if Houston chooses to kick the extra point, the game will be decided in overtime.

If instead Houston elects to go for two following the first TD, they will be better off if they make it (which has probability 0.4), and worse off if they miss both this two-point conversion and the next one (probability 0.62 = 0.36 ). So on balance the advantage lies with going for two.

We analyzed this situation in more detail in a
previous article .

If this kind of stuff interests you, read the whole thing.

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