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EdjVarsity - Best and Worst coaching decisions - Week 19

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The Divisional Round where #HenneThingIsPossible.

Best Decision – KC vs CLE

Sunday’s AFC Divisional Round playoff game is an instant classic!

With 1:14 remaining in the 4th quarter (KC had 2 timeouts and CLE had 0 timeouts) and leading the Browns by 5 points, the Chiefs faced a 4th and 1 at the KC 48-yard line. Coach Reid made the correct call by deciding to go for it, and the decision increased the Chiefs (pre-snap) win probability by +6.5%.

Based on our EPIs and the game state, the Chiefs decision to go for it comes with an expectation to go on to win the game 95.5% of the time. If the Chiefs had decided to punt, they would have been expected to go on to win the game 89.0% of the time.

Playing to Win.

“There was no doubt with anybody,” Reid said. “There was no flinch on the play. It was, ‘This is what it is. Here we go, Chad.’ We all knew it. Let’s go.”

And, bucking the conventional wisdom of lining up in “Jumbo” and calling a running play or QB sneak, the Chiefs lined up in 10 personnel and called their best play. Based on their study, the Chiefs were confident they would see man-to-man coverage on the play. And, in a one-on-one matchup involving Hill, the Chiefs like their guy more than your guy.

Great call and execution by the Chiefs! They are playing to win and leveraging analytics as part of the process!

Worst Decisions – TB @ NO

In Sunday’s NFC match up, Coach Arians made three decisions that cost the Bucs a total of -10.3% in (pre-snap) win probability. For the week, these accounted for 3 of the 5 biggest errors.

With 13:00 remaining in the 2nd quarter and trailing the Saints by 6 points, the Bucs faced a 4th and 1 at the NO 8-yard line. The decision to attempt a FG cost the Bucs -4.6% in (pre-snap) win probability. Later that same quarter, with 6:39 remaining and trailing by 3 points, the Bucs faced a 4th and 1 at the TB 34-yard line. The decision to punt cost the Bucs -3.3% in (pre-snap) win probability. And, with 7:04 remaining in the 3rd quarter and trailing the Saints by 7 points, the Bucs faced a 4th and 5 from the TB 41-yard line. The decision to punt cost the Bucs -2.4% in (pre-snap) win probability.

The Bucs went on to win this game, largely due to takeaways (3 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery). However, as the games get tougher and the scores get closer, these types of decisions will become increasingly important to get right.

Extra Point – Coaching with Confidence.

During the 2019 Divisional Round there was only 1 play where a team (BAL) decided to go for it on 4th down, that increased their (pre-snap) win probability by more than 2%.

By that same standard, this year there were 7 plays (CLE had 3, KC had 2, BAL had 1, and TB had 1). And, two of these “GOs” occurred in minus territory (the Browns 4th quarter 4th and 1 from the CLE 29-yard line and the Bucs 1st quarter 4th and 1 from the TB 34-yard line).

The trend of coaches making better/more informed decisions and coaching with confidence is here to stay!

Notable High School Calls of the Week

Highschool (14)

Plainfield Central Wildcats (IL) vs. Romeoville Spartans (IL)

With just over 8 min remaining the 2nd quarter and trailing 0-7, the Wildcats faced a 4th and 5 from the Spartans 20-yard line. By deciding to go for it instead of attempting the FG, Coach Pereiro increased the Wildcats (pre-snap) win probability by +4%. Plainfield would go on to win 16-13 in OT.

Rockford Rams (MI) vs. Caledonia Fighting Scotts (MI)

Tied 0-0 with 10:34 left in the 1st quarter, the Rams faced a 4th and 1 at the Caledonia 46-yard line. Coach Cummings made the correct decision to go for it, instead of punting. The decision increased the Rams (pre-snap) win probability by +5%. Rockford would go on to win in dominant fashion 49-7.

Great calls Coaches!

Submit your play of the week here.

Bottom Line

Every decision matters and it’s important to make the ones that give your team the best chance to win the game. For more information about how coaches are using analytics to make better decisions, visit EdjVarsity.