Originally written on The Colts Authority  |  Last updated 11/8/14

I have a confession to make:  I majored is in statistics.  Dorky?  I'll leave that to you.  Nate sent me a link this morning to a research paper found in the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports and I took the bait.

Dr. Brian Skinner, a University of Minnesota physics research associate and Ph.D has taken a stab at explaining risk assessment and strategy in sports.  His work is certainly heavy on theory but he brings it back to earth by explaining the use in common situations such as deciding between run, short passes and long passes:

Equating Zrun and Zshort suggests that that team should run the ball whenever the number of yards to go is small enough that y 4.9N. In the intermediate range of y, such that 2.8N

Got that?  Maybe not so let me explain in more detail.  The variable "y" is the number of yards needed.  So Dr. Skinner says teams should run when they need less than 2.8 yards, throw between 2.8 and 4.9 yards and go deep otherwise.

Seems intuititive but explains why a team should throw in 3rd and three. 

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