Tonight, the Perpetual Notion Machine looks into the link between science and sports. If you are a Green Bay Packers fan, I’m sure you are wondering about the decision on “the play” late in the championship game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Packers were on Tampa Bay’s 8 yard line. It was 4th down with just over 2 minutes left in the game. The Packers were behind by a score of 31 to 23. Should the Packers kick a field goal, which they did, or go for a touchdown on 4th down? Our guest Laura Albert crunched the numbers on both possibilities. Laura is a professor of industrial and systems engineering at UW-Madison. She designs an analytical methodologies to address many types of public sector situations. She admits the numbers may be a bit favorable, but going for it on 4th down would give the Packers a 10.4% chance of winning. Kicking a field goal, which they did make, only gave the Packers a 7.6% chance of winning.
For more information with a link to her spreadsheet with all the numbers, check out her blog and podcast at Punk Rock Operations Research.