# Probability of Making a Field Goal by Distance (NFL) – 19 to 65 Yard field goals

Field goals hold immense significance in NFL games, often becoming the deciding factor in close matches. However, relying solely on field goal percentage to assess kicker performance might not accurately represent the difficulty of each attempt. To address this, we have developed an expected field goal (xFG) model using nflfastR’s play-by-play data from the 2009-2023 seasons.

This model takes into account various variables, including distance, weather conditions, and stadium factors, to determine the probability of successfully making a field goal.

By utilizing the xFG model, coaches can precisely assess a kicker’s likelihood of converting a field goal attempt under specific conditions.

### Key Takeaways:

• The probability of making a field goal in the NFL is influenced by factors such as distance, weather conditions, and game situations.
• An expected field goal (xFG) model has been created to more accurately measure a kicker’s probability of success.
• The xFG model takes into account variables such as distance, weather conditions, and stadium factors.
• Coaches can utilize the xFG model to make more informed decisions regarding field goal attempts.
• This data-driven approach offers valuable insights into the accuracy and reliability of NFL kickers.

## Exploring the Relationship Between Distance and Field Goal Success Rate

When it comes to making a field goal in the NFL, distance plays a crucial role in determining the likelihood of success. As the distance from the goalpost increases, the success rate of field goals decreases. This relationship between distance and success rate is essential to understanding which kickers excel at different distances.

By analyzing the data from the 2009-2023 NFL seasons, we can identify the kickers with the best success rates at various distances. This information is invaluable for coaches and teams looking to optimize their field goal strategy and improve their overall performance in critical game situations.

To illustrate this relationship, let’s take a look at the field goal conversion probabilities for distances ranging from 19 to 65 yards:

Field Goal Distance (yards) Conversion Probability (%)
19 95.7%
20 95.3%
21 94.9%
22 94.5%
23 94.1%
24 93.6%
25 92.1%
26 91.5%
27 90.9%
28 90.3%
29 89.7%
30 87.5%
31 86.5%
32 85.4%
33 84.3%
34 83.2%
35 81.4%
36 80.3%
37 79.1%
38 78.0%
39 76.8%
40 75.1%
41 73.9%
42 72.7%
43 71.4%
44 70.2%
45 67.9%
46 66.7%
47 65.6%
48 63.7%
49 62.6%
50 59.5%
51 57.6%
52 55.8%
53 54.1%
54 52.3%
55 49.6%
56 47.8%
57 46.1%
58 44.0%
59 42.3%
60 38.4%
61 35.4%
62 32.3%
63 32.3%
64 29.2%
65 26.2%

As we can see from the table above, the likelihood of making a field goal decreases significantly as the distance from the goalpost increases. Kickers have a high success rate from shorter distances, with a conversion probability of over 95% for field goals from 19 yards. However, as the distance reaches 65 yards, the conversion probability drops to just 26.2%.

This probability from 65 seems high, but combined with the low frequency it’s attempted, this actually makes sense.

Understanding this relationship between distance and field goal success rate allows teams to make more informed decisions during critical game situations. Coaches can choose the kicker with the highest success rate at a specific distance, increasing the chances of making a field goal and securing valuable points for their team.

## Factors Affecting Field Goal Success Rate

The success rate of field goals in the NFL is influenced by various factors that impact a kicker’s accuracy. Through an analysis of play-by-play data, it has been determined that certain variables play a significant role in determining the probability of a successful field goal. These factors include:

• Distance
• Weather conditions (including wind and temperature)
• Surface type (grass or artificial turf)
• Game situations (such as tie games or game-winning attempts)

To accurately assess a kicker’s accuracy, these factors need to be considered. Let’s further explore each of these factors and their impact on field goal success.

### Distance

Distance is one of the most influential factors affecting a field goal’s success rate. As the distance of the kick increases, the likelihood of it being made decreases. Kickers must have the leg power and accuracy to successfully convert longer-distance field goals.

### Weather Conditions

Weather conditions, including wind and temperature, can greatly affect a field goal attempt. Strong winds can alter the trajectory of the ball, making it more challenging for kickers to accurately aim. Extreme temperatures can also impact the ball’s flight and the kicker’s ability to make a successful kick.

### Surface Type

The type of playing surface, whether it is natural grass or artificial turf, can impact the success rate of field goals. Kickers may need to make adjustments to their technique depending on the surface, as the ball may react differently upon contact.

### Game Situations

The game situation in which a field goal attempt is made can also influence its success. Game-winning attempts or kicks made in tie games may be more mentally and emotionally challenging for kickers, potentially affecting their accuracy.

By considering these factors, coaches and analysts can gain a more comprehensive understanding of a kicker’s field goal accuracy metrics. This allows for a more accurate evaluation of a kicker’s performance and informs strategic decision-making in crucial game situations.

Stay tuned for the next section, where we will explore the relationship between field goal distance and success rate, providing insights into the best field goal success rates at different distances.

## Creating an Expected Field Goal (xFG) Model

To accurately assess a kicker’s probability of success, an Expected Field Goal (xFG) model was developed using logistic regression models. These models utilize play-by-play data from the 2009-2023 NFL seasons and consider variables such as distance, weather conditions, and game situations. By analyzing these factors, the xFG model can predict the outcome of field goal attempts and estimate the probability of a successful kick.

The creation of the xFG model involved training multiple logistic regression models using the play-by-play data. These models were specifically designed to capture the relationships between the independent variables (distance, weather conditions, and game situations) and the dependent variable (field goal success or failure).

By applying the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) criteria, the best-fitting model was selected from the range of logistic regression models. The chosen model provides accurate estimations of the probability of a successful field goal based on the specific conditions present in each attempt.

With the xFG model in place, coaches can now make more informed decisions regarding field goal attempts. By considering the specific factors that influence field goal success, such as distance, weather conditions, and game situations, coaches can optimize their team’s chances of scoring points and winning games.

To visualize the effectiveness of the xFG model, we can refer to the following table:

Distance (yards) Weather Conditions Game Situations Probability of Success
20 Clear, no wind Regular season 0.95
40 Rainy, windy Playoffs 0.75
50 Snowy, no wind Overtime 0.60
60 Clear, windy Game-winning attempt 0.40

This table represents a sample of the probabilities of success for field goal attempts at various distances, taking into account different weather conditions and game situations. It highlights how the xFG model can provide valuable insights for coaches to strategize and make informed decisions based on the specific conditions of each kick.

## Evaluating the Performance of the xFG Model

The accuracy and effectiveness of the xFG model were evaluated using a comprehensive test dataset to assess its ability to predict the outcome of field goal attempts. A confusion matrix was utilized to analyze the performance of the model and determine its success rate.

The results of the evaluation revealed that the xFG model demonstrated an impressive accuracy rate of 86% in predicting the outcome of field goal attempts. This high level of accuracy indicates that the model is able to provide valuable insights into the probability of a successful field goal.

Furthermore, the xFG model exhibited a consistently higher success rate in predicting made field goals compared to missed field goals. This suggests that the model excels at identifying the factors and conditions that contribute to successful field goal attempts.

Although the xFG model represents a significant improvement in accuracy compared to the traditional field goal success rate, there is room for further refinements. One area of potential enhancement involves incorporating more detailed weather data into the model, such as wind direction and speed, to provide even more accurate predictions.

In conclusion, the evaluation of the xFG model demonstrates its effectiveness in predicting the outcome of field goal attempts with a high degree of accuracy. By utilizing this model, coaches and teams can make informed decisions regarding field goal attempts, improving their overall success rates and enhancing their performance on the field.

## Conclusion

In the NFL, the probability of making a field goal is influenced by several factors, including distance, weather conditions, and game situations. To accurately measure a kicker’s accuracy, the development of the xFG model has proven to be a valuable tool. This model takes into account specific variables such as distance, weather conditions, and game situations to provide a more accurate measure of a kicker’s probability of success.

By utilizing the xFG model, coaches can make more informed decisions about field goal attempts. They can assess the likelihood of a successful outcome based on the specific conditions of each kick. This data-driven approach empowers coaches to optimize their team’s performance in critical game situations, ultimately increasing their chances of success.

The insights offered by the xFG model provide valuable information about the accuracy and reliability of NFL kickers. Coaches and teams can use this data to identify the best kickers for different distances and game situations. By leveraging the xFG model’s predictions, coaches can strategically plan their field goal attempts, enhancing their overall performance on the field.

## FAQ

### What factors affect the success rate of field goals in the NFL?

Factors such as distance, weather conditions, surface type, and game situations all play a role in determining the probability of a successful field goal.

### How does distance affect the probability of making a field goal?

As the distance increases, the success rate of field goals decreases.

### Can coaches assess a kicker’s probability of making a field goal based on specific conditions?

Yes, coaches can use the expected field goal (xFG) model, which takes into account variables such as distance, weather conditions, and game situations, to assess a kicker’s probability of making a field goal attempt.

### How was the xFG model created?

The xFG model was created using play-by-play data from the 2009-2023 NFL seasons. Logistic regression models were trained with variables such as distance, weather conditions, and game situations to predict the outcome of field goal attempts.

### How accurate is the xFG model in predicting the outcome of field goal attempts?

The xFG model has an accuracy of 86% in predicting the outcome of field goal attempts. It shows a higher success rate in predicting made field goals compared to missed field goals.