Winning Trading Math And Football

You would think that nearly 13 years after the publishing of the now-famous book “Moneyball”, coaches would take some time to learn some basic math.  Yes, I am from Chicago so it is in my DNA that I must hate the Green Bay Packers.  The truth is, I don’t hate the Packers so this is not a result of some Bears fan’s sour grapes.  Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy blew it last Sunday and it could have cost his team a spot in the Conference Championship.  After quarterback Aaron Rogers pulled ANOTHER Hail Mary out of his rear end, the decision was made to kick the extra-point (to tie the game) and not to go for two (and win the game if successful).  Remember, there was 0:00 left on the clock.  Now we get to why I found this appropriate to include in the options commentary today.  It’s all about math!  We have two scenarios:

  1.   Aaron Rodgers converting that 2-point conversion
  2.  The Packers make the extra point and win in overtime?

To make this comparison, we need to know or estimate three numbers.  I got these numbers from the very cool blog “Five Thirty Eight”:

  1.  Two-point conversion success rate: Since 2001, teams have converted 47.2 percent of their 2-point tries from the 2-yard line (431 of 913).
  2.  Extra point success rate: Since the inception of the longer extra point this season, NFL kickers have made 94.3 percent of their attempts from the 15-yard line (1,131 of 1,199).
  3.  Expected winning percentage in overtime: Since 2001, the away team has won in overtime 45.5 percent of the time (110 of 242 overtimes that produced a winner).

 So, it’s pretty easy to calculate our chances of winning are in each scenario. 

Go for two.  47.2% from above.

Kick the extra point and then win in overtime.  .943 * .455 = 42.9%

So even without any sort of statistical adjustments (I can easily skew the two point numbers higher), we have over a 4% “edge” to go for two.

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