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NFL Sunday critical field goals -- OT (answers)

Posted By: Chuck Bower
Date: Tuesday, 24 January 2012, at 3:24 p.m.

In Response To: NFL Sunday critical field goals -- OT (Chuck Bower)

Surprised no one took a crack at the probability of making a 31 or 32 yard field goal. I'm sure some of you could get pretty close by linear interpolation (even though it's not a linear relationship).

A) Average success rate on field goals of length: 31 yds -- 91.5%, 32 yds -- 90.5% (from a cubic fit to six years of data; std deviations 0.56%, but correlated).

B) Difference in expected success between 31 yd FG and 26 yd FG: 4% (s.d. still ~0.5% on the difference, because of correlation you don't take quadrature sum).

C) GWC cost of the delay-of-game penalty: 2% if equal, generic teams; ~2.5% in this case. (If missed and SF takes over on their own 20 they are somewhat over 50% to win the game.)

D) Not surprisingly, NFL management doesn't understand stochastic processes. Kickers in particular have a short leash and are often fired after a couple misses at critical times in the game. Time will tell Cundiff's fate. (Doubt Tynes will get a raise, but let's see what happens in two weeks.) BTW, Cundiff led the league in 2010 for kickoff touchbacks. He was about 6th or 7th this year in the category (with the new placement of kickoff tee 5 yards closer to endzone).

E) I don't know if it's been mentioned, and if so I doubt anyone in the NFL even thinks about the lower probability of making a 31 yard FG vs. 26 yard FG. Besides, he made it. Controversy follows failures, not successes.

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