SOOPOO

• Posts: 11175
Joined: Aug 8, 2010
September 15th, 2010 at 4:58:42 PM permalink
I have been intrigued by the lack of attempts at the 2 point conversion in the NFL. I have a specific instance where I feel it is clear to try for the 2 points but it is never done. I'll await comments from the audience.
Scenario- you are down 14 points with 1 minute to go. You score a touchdown. It is clear that you will have to onside kick to try and get another touchdown. The opposing team will sit on the ball if they get it back at any yard line. General stats from the NFL show about a 45% success rate on 2 point conversions and a 99% success rate on 1 pointers. So... The conversions are only relevant if you are to score 2 touchdowns. If you do not it is irrelevant what happens after the first touchdown. So...
After the first touchdown 1. if you try a 2 pointer and fail you will try a 2 pointer the next TD
2. If you try a 2 pointer and succeed you will try a 1 pointer the next TD
So you will be ahead .45 x .99 = .4455
You will be tied .45 x .01 + .55 x .45 = .252
You will be behind .55 x .55 = .3025
Similar math for the 1 pointer initially shows tie about 98.5%, lose 1.5%
Why won't a coach do this? Because if it succeeds they get a wow!! good job!! If it fails they get fired.
Remember the premise implies no more scoring by the opponent so it does not apply early in games.
EnvyBonus
• Posts: 100
Joined: Nov 24, 2009
September 15th, 2010 at 8:43:59 PM permalink
Quote: SOOPOO

After the first touchdown 1. if you try a 2 pointer and fail you will try a 2 pointer the next TD
2. If you try a 2 pointer and succeed you will try a 1 pointer the next TD
So you will be ahead .45 x .99 = .4455
You will be tied .45 x .01 + .55 x .45 = .252
You will be behind .55 x .55 = .3025
Similar math for the 1 pointer initially shows tie about 98.5%, lose 1.5%

To make sure I'm clear about your calculations, your system results in a win 44.55% of the time, overtime 25.2% of the time, and a loss 30.25% of the time?
I think you have to figure in the probability of overtime win/loss/tie percentages before you can say this method is better or worse than just kicking 2 extra points. I don't know what those percentages are, but I think you have to take that into account.

Honestly though, you are right on the money that an NFL coach won't do something unconventional no matter what the percentages say, because they are too scared of being fired for it. (New England's 4th and 1 against Indy last year excluded, of course)
Nareed
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Joined: Nov 11, 2009
September 16th, 2010 at 7:43:06 AM permalink
Quote: SOOPOO

General stats from the NFL show about a 45% success rate on 2 point conversions and a 99% success rate on 1 pointers.

For starters what a coach should consider are not the general league stats, but those of the team he's playing, as well as his own team's stats. So if your team is bad at converting 2 points and is playing a teams that is good at stopping such conversions, then the league stats can go hang.

Second, football results are not random. To be sure there are random factors involved (see The Immaculate Reception, for example), but usually these have the most impact on very close games. A coach should also consider the state of his team and how effective his play has been over the course of the game.

Usually you'll see the two point conversion when 1) there's nothing else to do and 2) the end result is desirable but not crucial. But there are exceptions. A recent one happened just two years ago in the infamous blown fumble call by referee Ed Hochuli. The Broncos would have tied with an extra point and won with a two pointer. They went for two, even though they'd have lost the game if they had failed.
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SOOPOO

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Joined: Aug 8, 2010
September 16th, 2010 at 8:19:10 AM permalink
I accidently flagged this post which I didn't mean to do. You are correct, 'tied' means overtime. But that doesn't change the idea. The idea that you can win about 50% more than you would lose (45% versus 30%) means that it really should be NO DECISION!.. The 2 pointer is clearly better. Since the 2 one pointers AT BEST get you to overtime. You theoretically would be correct if there was a difference in one teams 'overtime ability' versus the others. But that could not even approach the 50% difference, nor is it likely to even be something you could know in advance. If you KNEW that, say, your team would only gain the 2 yards needed 25% of the time, then yes, go for the 1 pointer. The break even point probably is around 38%, and can be figured out exactly if needed.
SOOPOO

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Joined: Aug 8, 2010
September 16th, 2010 at 8:21:18 AM permalink
Quote: Nareed

For starters what a coach should consider are not the general league stats, but those of the team he's playing, as well as his own team's stats. So if your team is bad at converting 2 points and is playing a teams that is good at stopping such conversions, then the league stats can go hang.

Second, football results are not random. To be sure there are random factors involved (see The Immaculate Reception, for example), but usually these have the most impact on very close games. A coach should also consider the state of his team and how effective his play has been over the course of the game.

Usually you'll see the two point conversion when 1) there's nothing else to do and 2) the end result is desirable but not crucial. But there are exceptions. A recent one happened just two years ago in the infamous blown fumble call by referee Ed Hochuli. The Broncos would have tied with an extra point and won with a two pointer. They went for two, even though they'd have lost the game if they had failed.

These 2 point conversions by any one team are rare enough that no significant stats can be developed for a given team. I would guess most teams defend or try a 2 pointer perhaps 3 times a year.
CapnDave
• Posts: 18
Joined: Jul 16, 2010
September 16th, 2010 at 8:53:12 AM permalink
Quote: SOOPOO

So you will be ahead .45 x .99 = .4455
You will be tied .45 x .01 + .55 x .45 = .252
You will be behind .55 x .55 = .3025
Similar math for the 1 pointer initially shows tie about 98.5%, lose 1.5%

I'd say that the huge difference in lose percentage is the swaying factor. By going for 2, you have a "good" result (win or tie) roughly 70%, and "bad" result (loss) roughly 30%. By sticking conventional, you have a "good" result 98.5% of the time, vs "bad" 1.5%.

I'd say in that situation, most coaches don't see a huge separation in benefit between win and tie, while there's still a vast difference between either one of those and a loss.
SOOPOO

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Joined: Aug 8, 2010
September 16th, 2010 at 8:57:57 AM permalink
Quote: CapnDave

I'd say that the huge difference in lose percentage is the swaying factor. By going for 2, you have a "good" result (win or tie) roughly 70%, and "bad" result (loss) roughly 30%. By sticking conventional, you have a "good" result 98.5% of the time, vs "bad" 1.5%.

I'd say in that situation, most coaches don't see a huge separation in benefit between win and tie, while there's still a vast difference between either one of those and a loss.

The tie turns into a loss roughly 50% of the time. The final result of my strategy is to win 58%, lose 42%.
The 1 pointers is win 49%, lose 51%. I think there have been about 2 ties in the NFL in the last 2 decades. But...
there very well may be a late season advantage to trying for a tie which would negate the axtra win advantage.
thecesspit
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September 16th, 2010 at 9:23:43 AM permalink
There is a coach that Sports illustrated interviewed that has no punter and no specialist kicker. He almost always goes for it on fourth down and always goes for 2. Apparently he's quite successful at it.

It's rare that a team are 14 points down exactly and are in the position you state. When you are, it's a huge hill to climb, and to go for two the first time would appear to be a massive step... if you miss it there's three times the pressure IF you recover the onside kick and IF you get the TD. In these situations, you'll take the almost sure thing as there's so many other random factors left in.

Course, nothing more painful than a last second TD having the PAT blocked (Lions/Vikings circa 2006 to name but one)
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SOOPOO

• Posts: 11175
Joined: Aug 8, 2010
September 16th, 2010 at 9:54:05 AM permalink
Quote: thecesspit

There is a coach that Sports illustrated interviewed that has no punter and no specialist kicker. He almost always goes for it on fourth down and always goes for 2. Apparently he's quite successful at it.

It's rare that a team are 14 points down exactly and are in the position you state. When you are, it's a huge hill to climb, and to go for two the first time would appear to be a massive step... if you miss it there's three times the pressure IF you recover the onside kick and IF you get the TD. In these situations, you'll take the almost sure thing as there's so many other random factors left in.

Course, nothing more painful than a last second TD having the PAT blocked (Lions/Vikings circa 2006 to name but one)

I dont disagree with anything you say. But as a man of math(I have read many of your posts with regards to our friend Ken) you should agree that it (my idea) makes sense if the sole goal is to increase your chance of winning that particular game. Whenever a team has tried for a 2 pointer there is always that 'pressure' or they would have just kicked the extra point! I believe that the coach you are talking about is a high scool coach, and his ideas are genrally sound. When Greg Williams punted when we had the ball on the Pats 28 yd line...... Oh- my Bills agony is showing... I stand by my 0 -16 prediction...
SOOPOO

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April 18th, 2022 at 4:41:18 AM permalink
Quote: SOOPOO

I have been intrigued by the lack of attempts at the 2 point conversion in the NFL. I have a specific instance where I feel it is clear to try for the 2 points but it is never done. I'll await comments from the audience.
Scenario- you are down 14 points with 1 minute to go. You score a touchdown. It is clear that you will have to onside kick to try and get another touchdown. The opposing team will sit on the ball if they get it back at any yard line. General stats from the NFL show about a 45% success rate on 2 point conversions and a 99% success rate on 1 pointers. So... The conversions are only relevant if you are to score 2 touchdowns. If you do not it is irrelevant what happens after the first touchdown. So...
After the first touchdown 1. if you try a 2 pointer and fail you will try a 2 pointer the next TD
2. If you try a 2 pointer and succeed you will try a 1 pointer the next TD
So you will be ahead .45 x .99 = .4455
You will be tied .45 x .01 + .55 x .45 = .252
You will be behind .55 x .55 = .3025
Similar math for the 1 pointer initially shows tie about 98.5%, lose 1.5%
Why won't a coach do this? Because if it succeeds they get a wow!! good job!! If it fails they get fired.
Remember the premise implies no more scoring by the opponent so it does not apply early in games.

I was going through my ‘threads started’ when I found this pearl from 11 years ago. It took a bit but the NFL is finally using SOOPOO analytics!
SOOPOO

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Joined: Aug 8, 2010
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July 19th, 2022 at 5:01:07 AM permalink
Quote: SOOPOO

I have been intrigued by the lack of attempts at the 2 point conversion in the NFL. I have a specific instance where I feel it is clear to try for the 2 points but it is never done. I'll await comments from the audience.
Scenario- you are down 14 points with 1 minute to go. You score a touchdown. It is clear that you will have to onside kick to try and get another touchdown. The opposing team will sit on the ball if they get it back at any yard line. General stats from the NFL show about a 45% success rate on 2 point conversions and a 99% success rate on 1 pointers. So... The conversions are only relevant if you are to score 2 touchdowns. If you do not it is irrelevant what happens after the first touchdown. So...
After the first touchdown 1. if you try a 2 pointer and fail you will try a 2 pointer the next TD
2. If you try a 2 pointer and succeed you will try a 1 pointer the next TD
So you will be ahead .45 x .99 = .4455
You will be tied .45 x .01 + .55 x .45 = .252
You will be behind .55 x .55 = .3025
Similar math for the 1 pointer initially shows tie about 98.5%, lose 1.5%
Why won't a coach do this? Because if it succeeds they get a wow!! good job!! If it fails they get fired.
Remember the premise implies no more scoring by the opponent so it does not apply early in games.