Brandon Staley relied on analytics throughout the season to support his decisions to go down to fourth. The Chargers head coach again tracked the numbers Sunday night, but this time made a decision that left many NFL fans scratching their heads.
Staley opted in 4th and 1st from the Chargers ’18 with his team leading by 3 points and remaining 9:41 in the third quarter. The decision backfired, though perhaps not as badly as some expected, as Austin Ekeler running back was dealt with a 2-yard drop to force a drop in revenue.
The Raiders got just one goal on the field on the latter drive to take a 20-14 lead.
Conventional wisdom, of course, suggests that going fourth down deep in one team’s territory is questionable, especially when so much time is left.
But do the numbers support Staley’s decision? Of course they do.
THAN: Super Bowl 2022 Odds
According to NFL Next Generation Stats, the Chargers’ expected win rate increases slightly when they decide to join, while deciding to beat will slightly reduce the team’s chances.
The Charger’s decision to use it on Wednesday and 1 from their own 18-yard line is the ultimate call to action according to the NGS Decision Guidelines provided by @awscloud.
– Next Generation Statistics (@NextGenStats) January 10, 2022
The Chargers and Raiders are playing in a game with heavy playoff implications. The winner will go to the AFC playoffs while the loser goes home, although a draw would put them both in the postseason against the Steelers. Staley said lead to game that his team would not kneel for the entire match to secure a draw.
If the Chargers win (they win 29-14 at the end of the fourth quarter), they’ll face Buffalo for the Bills. A Raiders win would take Las Vegas to Cincinnati to face the Bengals. If the teams tie, the Chargers will play the Bills and the Raiders will face the 2nd Seed as the Chief.