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Raiders-Saints 9/11/16

Posted by John Reed on

51% versus 44%?

At the end of the Saints-Raiders game, they scored a TD which left them one point down They went for two and got it thereby winning the game. ESPN said the probability they would win in OT, if they had kicked the single extra point was 51% and the probability of getting the two-point conversion was only 44%.

if that’s the case, the Raiders made the wrong decision and got lucky. Some say you can’t argue with results. Yes, you can. All decisions are to be judged based on what the decision maker knew at the time. How it actually turned out is irrelevant to judging the quality of the decision.

NFL OT is 50-50

However, having said that, I do not care for the ESPN probabilities. When a 60-minute football game ends in a tie, the probability of either team winning in OT is 50% Duh.

This may not be true in college or high school where they put the ball on the 25 yard line or some such and each team gets a four-down at “bat” until one team is ahead at the end of such an “inning.” It that case, the team with the better red-zone game is the favorite. But in the NFL, the fifth quarter is almost the same as the first. After four quarters of tie football, neither is the favorite.

2-point conversion hard to predict

But the probability of succeeding with the two-point conversion is another matter. In this case, the best stats would be last season’s Raider success rate at those plays. But that is probably a small sample. Raiders who were here then are gone. Same is true of new players arriving at the Raiders and the Saints.

Also, in football coaching, you sometimes see an opportunity, a weakness. An opponent star may get injured during the game. The defense may have a weak spot not seen or not attacked last season.

Coaches may have seen something

The better basis for a decision is the coaches’ observations during Sunday’s game. I cannot evaluate that because I do not know what the coaches saw.

All things begin equal, I like my chances on the two yard-line more than my chances watching an OT kickoff floating down from on high toward my receiver in my end zone. I think the ESPN stats are wrong. It was 50-50 going for one, 50-50 going for two. That being the case, I would have made the same decision. A two-yard line in the hand is worth an overtime in the bush.

Tie ball game

If you asked me after the Raider win which was the better team, I would have said, “Neither. Statistical tie, like the 2000 Presidential election.”


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