It's Fourth Down and What Does the Bellman Equation Say? A Dynamic Programming Analysis of Football Strategy
David Romer ()
No 9024, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc
This paper uses play-by-play accounts of virtually all regular season National Football League games for 1998-2000 to analyze teams' choices on fourth down between trying for a first down and kicking. Dynamic programming is used to estimate the values of possessing the ball at different points on the field. These estimates are combined with data on the results of kicks and conventional plays to estimate the average payoffs to kicking and going for it under different circumstances. Examination of teams' actual decisions shows systematic, overwhelmingly statistically significant, and quantitatively large departures from the decisions the dynamic-programming analysis implies are preferable.
JEL-codes: L10 D21 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dge and nep-spo
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations View citations in EconPapers (5) Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: http://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9024
Ordering information: This working paper can be ordered from
Access Statistics for this paper
More papers in NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc
Address: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Contact information at EDIRC.
Series data maintained by ().