August 6, 2011

Fun Fact #4: Chances of Scoring Based on Field Position

Fun Fact: These charts visualize how likely it is for a team to score based on their field position on first down.

Takeaway: There is obviously a precise correlation between scoring and field position. But the interesting thing is that the correlation is linear, rather than exponentially growing in sort of a parobolic fashion.

If a team takes over at their own 1 yard line, their expected points on that drive is about 0.5.  If a team takes over at the opposing 1 yard line, their expected points is about 6.  That means every yard gained equates to about .055 points.  A ten yard gain resulting in a new first down is worth about a 1/2 point.  A 40 yard pass is worth 2 points and so on.
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This chart shows the chances of ultimately scoring: (1) a touchdown; (2) a field goal; or (3) any type of score based on the starting field position on first down.  Teams are always more likely to score a TD than a FG, but this drastically changes around the 20 yard line.


This chart shows the expected points for a team based on their field position on first down.  Based on every single first down from 2000-2010, the analysis determined the average points ultimately scored by that team on the same drive (either a FG or TD).  This visualization helps to demonstrate the points a team should be expected to score (on average) based on their field position.  As they get closer to the end zone, they are expected to score more points (obviously), but this chart helps to show exactly what to expect.

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