When should NFL teams go for it on fourth down?

In a fourth down situation in football, most coaches in the NFL decide to punt the ball to the other team. But is giving the ball away with such regularity really a good idea, and should teams punt as often as they do?

In this lesson, students use quadratic functions to develop a model of **expected points**, which measure how many points a team can expect to score from different field positions. They then apply this model to determine when teams should punt the ball, and more importantly, when they shouldn’t.

- Read graphs to estimate the probability of scoring a touchdown or field goal from different field positions
- Add quadratic functions to develop a model of a team’s expected points at different field positions
- Evaluate a quadratic function to model the probability that a team will convert on fourth down
- Calculate a team’s total expected points if they go for it on fourth and if they punt
- Develop strategies for when to punt on fourth down

NFL, Grantland, Pulaski Academy