The NFL is looking to get rid of the extra point as we know it.
According to Judy Battista of NFL Media, one proposal being discussed in the NFL’s competition committee would make the extra point significantly longer.
Under the proposal, which is still in its infancy, the ball would be placed on the 25-yard line on extra points instead of the 2-yard line. Extra points would be 43-yard kicks instead of 20-yard kicks.
That 23-yard difference is massive.
It’s so massive that it changes the game theory for post-touchdown decision making.
Under the new system, the rational decision is to go for two nearly every single time.
The expected value of a 2-point conversion far exceeds the expected value of an extra point under this system.
We looked at the conversion rates on the respective plays since 2010. Here’s the data:
NFL kickers make 43-yard field goals 78.3% of the time, so the expected value of a 43-yard extra point is 0.783 points.
NFL teams convert 2-point conversions 50.5% of the time, so the expected value of going for two is 1.009 points.
This is a radical shift from the current scoring system.
Under the current system, the expected values of extra points and 2-point conversions are basically the same.
The extra point has an expected value of 0.996 points (based on 2013 conversions rates of 99.6%), and the 2-point conversion has an expected value of 1.009 (based on conversions rates since 2010).
They’re equal, and since NFL coaches are inherently conservative in their decision making, they kicked the extra point almost every time.
But under this new system, the difference between the two choices is so vast that coaches would be forced to choose the “riskier” option if they’re acting rationally.
There’s a 0.226-point expected value difference between going for two and kicking the extra point under this system.
Last year the Denver Broncos scored 4.5 touchdowns per game. So under the new system the difference between going for two every time and kicking a extra point every time would be 1.02 points per game.
There will be a lot of late-game scenarios where kicking the extra point is the right choice.
If it’s tied 25-25 with one minute left, clearly the choice is to kick the extra point. Same thing if you’re down 24-23 in the fourth quarter.
But most of the time teams should go for two if this rule is adopted, and that’s a huge win for anyone who likes experimentation in football.
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