Monday, November 16, 2009

Was Belichick’s decision to go for it on 4th down correct?

Belichick is getting blasted for his decision to go for two late in the game against the Colts last night (see here, here, here and probably a hundred other places). A detailed statistical analysis seems to suggest that it was actually the right call. See these posts (1, 2) at the blog and this one at Advance NFL Stats. For a less cerebral analysis in support of the decision see Merril Hoge.

One last point. It seems from this video that Peyton Manning was not happy about the Patriots going for it at the time. Since football games are zero-sum games, what is good for the Colts is necessarily bad for the Patriots. If the Colts want them to punt, then the best thing for the Patriots is to not punt. However, this analysis assumes rationality on the part of both teams, which may not be a correct assumption.

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