Here is what moving the extra point line in the NFL means for two-point conversions


(AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

There were only five extra points missed all of last season in 1,321 attempts, so the NFL experimented with moving the conversion kick to the 15-yard line this preseason, making it equivalent to a 33-yard extra point.

The experiment’s over,” Dean Blandino, the NFL’s Vice President of Officiating, said Tuesday on the Dan Patrick show. “We had 141 attempts and we missed eight, which is 94.3 percent in terms of accuracy, which is lower than the 99.6 where we were. I think what you’re going to see is this play is going to change in the very near future. I don’t know if it’s the 15-yard line. I think we’re going to gather all the information we can from this experiment. I know there were several other proposals, several other ideas. We’ll gather all of that, the Competition Committee will get together once the season is over and we’ll come up with a proposal. I’m sure some teams will propose some things but I do anticipate this play is going to change.”

Hall of Fame kicker Jan Stenerud thinks the extra point should be eliminated entirely. Bill Belichick, coach of the New England patriots, has proposed moving the extra points back to the 25-yard line, creating a 43-yard extra point.

“When the extra point was part of the game originally, we had players in other positions who were kicking, surfaces were a lot less ideal than what they are now,” explained Belichick. “It was a tougher play.”

Over the last five seasons, kickers made 126-to-165 (76.4 percent) from 25 yard line (43 yard field goal). That means we can expect a team to score 0.764 per attempt. It’s actually higher now since kickers have improved from that distance over time.

During that same five-year span, teams have converted  138-of-283 (48.8 percent) two-point conversion attempts, creating an expected point total of 0.976 per attempt. In other words, there would be a 0.212 value difference in points expected between going for two and kicking the extra point from the 25-yard line.

That’s a big difference.

Under the current system, and even during the most recent experiment, kicking the extra point has almost the same point expectation as going for the two-point conversion. In other words, there is not enough reward for a team to risk going for two. However, move the extra point to the 25-yard line and it becomes more advantageous for a coach to go for two points.

And that would make the game more exciting.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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