Analyzing the Patriots’ 4th Down Calls

Now up on Advanced NFL Stats: Kurt Bullard takes a look at a couple late-game calls made by the Patriots and what it means when Win Probability and Expected Points suggest different decisions.

This Sunday, the Patriots found themselves down six points to the Saints with only 1:13 left in the game. In that span, Tom Brady was able to lead a drive down the field, connecting on a 17-yard pass to Kenbrell Thompkins in the left corner of the end zone to complete one of Boston’s two major come-from-behind wins of the day.

Hidden by the final drive were two controversial fourth down calls in the fourth quarter that happened at key moments in the game. The first came with 8:34 remaining in the game when the Patriots held a 20-17 lead over the Saints. Faced with a 4th-and-goal at the five yard line, New England opted to kick a field goal rather than try to score a touchdown to go up two scores.

The win probability and expected point value each suggest different optimal decisions. The expected point formula suggests that the Patriots ought to have gone for it, while the win probability calculator says otherwise, albeit by a slight margin.

Read on here.

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