Fourth down conversions way up this year

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NFL scoring is at an all-time high this season, and that’s in part thanks to teams going for it on fourth down more often this year, and converting more often as well.

So far this season, NFL offenses have stayed on the field for 154 fourth downs, and converted 85 of them, or 55 percent. That puts teams on pace to go for it 626 times, and convert 345 of them. Last season, NFL offenses stayed on the field for 609 fourth downs and converted 276 of them, or 45 percent.

The numbers are particularly stark on fourth-and-1: As noted by Michael Lopez of the league’s Data & Analytics department, as recently as 2017, NFL teams went for it on fourth-and-1 less than half of the time. Now NFL teams are going for it 69 percent of the time on fourth-and-1, and they’re converting 77 percent of those attempts.

More teams going for it, and succeeding, on fourth down means more offenses ultimately scoring touchdowns. The increase in scoring can at least in part be attributed to NFL coaches getting smarter about trusting their offenses on fourth down.

6 responses to “Fourth down conversions way up this year

  1. Play has been at a high level all around the NFL. Defenses were obviously behind offenses for the first few weeks, but defenses are catching up now making it a even better level of play for viewers.

    Teams over the last few years(since 2017) have gone for it more and more on 4th down. This season is just a continuation of what has been going on over the last couple years.

  2. Every 4th and 2 or less teams should go for it, and if your offense was in a groove all day I’d open it to 4th and 3 and even 4th and 4.

    The Giants had the least number of points scored in Week 4 at 9. They had 61 offensive plays for 326 yards. That averages to 5.3 yards per play.

    So please explain why you would not take your chances going for it on 4th and 2?

  3. The more NFL coaches in the league that grew up playing Madden on XBOX = more teams going for it on 4th down! Which is ultimately a more exciting game.

  4. believe it or not crowd helps the defense, so the lack of a raucus crowd could be the difference in a couple of the 4th down situations

  5. Fewer ticky tack holding calls means fewer 4th and long situations and more good opportunities to go for it on 4th down. Also, the quicker pace of play from fewer penalties means you can keep defenses on their heels and exploit them not being prepared for a 4th down play.

  6. But if there’s 19 seconds left in overtime and you’re still tied, then you should definitely punt.

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