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.