Football Ops

Football Ops

Protecting the integrity of the greatest game.

NFL Ops: Honoring the Game

It's our responsibility to strengthen the sport.

League Governance

Ensuring a consistent and fair game that is decided on the field, by the players.

NFL Rules Enforcement

Ensuring that players conduct themselves in a way that honors the sport and respects the game.

NFL Way to Play

Knees Bent. Pads Down. Head Up and Out.

The NFL and HBCUs

The NFL is proud of the HBCU professional football legacy.

Economic & Social Impact

Honoring the league’s commitment to serve the communities where the game is played.

The NFL Ops Team

Meet the people behind NFL Operations.

The Game

The Game

Learn about the people, the jobs and the technology that deliver the best game possible to NFL fans across the U.S. and around the world. 

Game Day: Behind the Scenes

Countdown to kickoff: how NFL games happen.

Technology

In the NFL, balancing technology with tradition.

Impact of Television

How television has changed the game.

History of Instant Replay

Upon further review…

Creating the NFL Schedule

It takes hundreds of computers and five NFL executives to create the NFL’s 256-game masterpiece.

Big Data Bowl

The annual analytics contest explores statistical innovations in football — how the game is played and coached.

Youth Football

Promoting the values of football.

The Players

The Players

Learn how NFL players have changed over time, how they’re developed and drafted and how the league works with them after their playing days are over.  

Evolution of the NFL Player

Creating an NFL player: from “everyman” to “superman.”

Development Pipeline

Supporting the next generation of players and fans.

Getting Into the Game

Preparing players of all ages for success at football’s highest level.

The NFL Draft

Introducing the next wave of NFL superstars. 

NFL Player Engagement

A look at the programs and services NFL Player Engagement provides to assist every player before, during and after his football career.

College All Star Games

Strengthening football and the community.

NFL Legends Community

Strengthening the NFL brotherhood.

The Officials

The Officials

Discover the evolution of professional officiating, the weekly evaluation process and how the NFL identifies and develops the next generation of officials.

In Focus: History of the Official

“One thing hasn’t changed: the pressure. It will always be there.”

Inside NFL GameDay Central

The latest information from the NFL's officiating center.

These Officials Are Really Good

Every week, officials take the field ready to put months of preparation, training and hard work on display, knowing that the whole world — and the Officiating Department — is watching.

Officiating Development

Officiating an NFL game takes years of training and experience. 

The Rules

The Rules

NFL Football Operations protects the integrity of the game by ensuring that the rules and the officiating are consistent and fair to all competitors.

In Focus: Evolution of the NFL Rules

The custodians of football not only have protected its integrity, but have also revised its playing rules to protect the players, and to make the games fairer and more entertaining.

NFL Video Rulebook

The NFL Video Rulebook explains NFL rules with video examples.

2019 NFL Rulebook

Explore the official rules of the game. 6.2.5

2019 Rules Changes and Points of Emphasis

NFL Overtime Rules

NFL Tiebreaking Procedures

The NFL's procedures for breaking ties for postseason playoffs.

Signals Intelligence

The NFL's familiar hand signals help fans better understand the game.   

NFL Rules Digest

A quick reference guide to the NFL rulebook.

Football 101

Football 101

Terms Glossary

Sharpen your NFL football knowledge with this glossary of the game's fundamental terms. 

Formations 101

See where the players line up in pro football's most common offensive and defensive formations.

Quick Guide to NFL TV Graphics

Understand what the graphics on NFL television broadcasts mean and how they can help you get the most out of watching NFL games.

NFL Instant Replay Process

The NFL’s instant replay review process focuses on expediting instant replay reviews and ensuring consistency. Learn how it works.

Stats Central

Stats Central

Go inside the game with the NFL's official game stats. Sort the stats by season or by week.

The Extra Point

Welcome to the Extra Point, where members of the NFL's football data and analytics team will share updates on league-wide trends in football data, interesting visualizations that showcase innovative ways to use the league's data, and provide an inside look at how the NFL uses data-driven insight to improve and monitor player and team performance.

Chart The Data

Chart and compare the NFL Football Operations stats you're looking for with the NFL's data tool. 

Weekly Dashboard

Get a snapshot of the current NFL game stats, updated weekly during the regular season.

The Extra Point

When are teams being more aggressive on fourth down?

More than ever, NFL offenses are staying on the field on fourth down. In the 2019 season, the rates with which teams have gone for it on both fourth-and-1 and fourth-and-2 plays are higher than in any season during the last two decades. 

To answer the question of when teams are going for it — even after knowing the distance needed for a first down — we need additional information. Where on the field is the team? What is the score? How much time is left?

Using statistical modeling, we estimated the likelihood that a team would go for it on fourth down — given distance, score, yard line, and time remaining — for each of the last 15 regular seasons. Here’s a plot that compares the likelihood that a team will go for it in 2019, relative to the average from the 20052018 seasons, shown across the length of the field (left to right). The plot assumes that the game is tied at the start of the second quarter, when the increase in fourth-down aggressiveness has picked up the most. Each line corresponds to a different distance category. 

The uptick in fourth-and-1 aggressiveness has primarily happened in two scenarios — when an offense is around midfield and once an offense has fewer than 10 yards to go for a touchdown. Increases in all other go-for-it rates are primarily centered around the opponent’s 40-yard line. As an example, teams at the opposing 40-yard line when facing a fourth-and-2 are going for it 25.1% more often in 2019 relative to past seasons. 

As additional anecdotes, in 2019 here are the seven fourth-down attempts where a team would’ve gone for it less than five percent of the time. 

  • Baltimore successfully went for it on fourth-and-3 at the Kansas City 9-yard line during Week 3. The game was tied with five minutes left in the first quarter. Go for it probability: 2.9%
  • Minnesota successfully went for it on fourth-and-4 at its own 31-yard line during Week 4 against Chicago. The Vikings were trailing by 16 with two minutes left in the third quarter. Go for it probability: 3.1%
  • New England unsuccessfully went for it on fourth-and-7 at the Kansas City 27-yard line during Week 14. The Patriots were trailing by 10 with seven minutes left in the second quarter. Go for it probability: 3.1%
  • Los Angeles Chargers unsuccessfully went for it on fourth-and-goal from the Minnesota 15-yard line during Week 15. The Chargers were down 15 points at the start of the fourth quarter. Go for it probability: 3.3%
  • Chicago unsuccessfully went for it on fourth-and-9 at the Los Angeles Rams' 31-yard line during Week 11. The game was tied with nine minutes left in the first quarter. Go for it probability: 3.8%
  • Baltimore successfully went for it on fourth-and-1 at its own 29-yard line during Week 15 against the New York Jets. The Ravens were up 21 points with two minutes left in the third quarter. Go for it probability: 4.1%
  • Buffalo unsuccessfully went for it on fourth-and-10 at the Philadelphia 29-yard line during Week 8. The Bills were down 11 points with one minute left in the third quarter. Go for it probability: 4.9%

The most conservative decision according to our model? During Week 1, the Pittsburgh Steelers chose to kick a field goal on a fourth-and-goal from the New England one-yard line, when trailing by 20 points. Our model estimates that a typical team would have gone for it 95.2% of the time.

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