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:
- Aaron Rodgers converting that 2-point conversion
- 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”:
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.