The mathematics of football

I don’t know much about football other than what I’ve learned from movies. I am, however, really good at math. In fact, I’m so good at math, I can solve an easy-difficulty LA Times sudoku in fewer than 30 minutes. So, inspired by the football playoffs, I’ve decided to put together this mathematical analysis of football strategy. So, here we go!

The following is a table of various types of scoring and their point values:

Touchdown 6
Field goal 3
Safety 2
Extra 2 points after a touchdown 2
Extra point after a touchdown 1


The following is a bar graph based on the data above:


We then applied a scatterplot analysis of the data above and created this output.


We then attempted to curve fit the data above. We found that it fit a polynomial regression with an R2 value of .9382 further confirming that our data must be correct.


Conclusion – here are the ITG Keys of the Game:

Offense: touchdowns are twice as good as field goals, so all things being equal, teams should also go for them. Also, based on the rules of football, it always makes sense to attempt either an extra point or 2 extra points after a touch down. There’s almost no reason not to.

Defense: getting safeties is good, but if you can gain possession of the ball and score a touch down, that’s at least 300% even better.

Next week: The mathematical analysis of the point value of Kevin Love’s 3 pointers. (Hint: They’re worth 3 points)

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