New York Times 4th Down Bot takes a look at how the Bears handled fourth down

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Those who study the numbers and analytics of football will always look at the game a little differently than NFL coaches. One of the biggest areas of disagreement is the handling of fourth down.

For the most part, head coaches in the NFL take the safe decision on fourth down, even on short yardage, and punt. However, new studies have shown coaches are often far too cautious and cost their team points.

The confusion is so engrained, even broadcasters default to punting.

The New York Times has taken it a step further. Their 4th Down Bot crunches the numbers analytically and spits out what the numbers say a coach could do.

Following the Bears loss Sunday they were criticized for their handling of fourth and short, but what does the 4th Down Bot say?


Surprisingly, the Bot agrees with all 10 of the Bears punts. Although, that comes with a caveat.

The most discussed fourth down decisions came in the second half. The first in the third quarter with the Bears in a fourth and one situation and the last in the fourth quarter needing two yards.

The numbers actually say the Bears should have gone for it. But because of the score, the Bot pretty much said it didn’t matter since the overall outcome wouldn’t change.

The Bot’s explanation for the fourth and two decision:

No matter what happens on this play, the Bears will almost certainly lose the game. In situations like these, what happens on this down is basically inconsequential, so there’s no real recommendation here. (In fact, I’m taking a break from the game for a spot of Earl Grey.)

That’s how bad the Bears were Sunday, they made an automated computer program bored.

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