I'm a soccer fan and rarely watch NFL. But one thing that bemuses me is the conservatism in the game.

Why do teams not go for it more often on 4th and 1? The stats show it's a good play. The reward is 7 points instead of 3 and you have a 60% chance of making it.

During Super Bowl LIV on 2 February 2020, the 49ers had a chance to be on 24 points instead of 20, but they went for the kick instead.

The Chiefs made the same decision earlier in the game and went for it gaining those extra points. This game turned on those decisions.

Why isn't the media picking this up more? Why isn't the game changing towards being more aggressive?


In general there is a sweet spot along the length of the field for going for it on 4th and short yardage. And, compared to soccer, acquiring and maintaining field position is maybe the biggest key to success.

Most teams would never go for it if they haven't crossed the 50 yard line. (there are some famous exceptions, which backfired, like Tom Brady's Patriots failing to convert deep in their own end against Peyton Manning's Colts in 2009. The Patriots lost by a point that game) Similarly, if the offense is within a high percentage range for their FG kicker, they wouldn't pass those points up. Either of these are sound decisions.

In general, teams go for it on 4th and short if they are past the 50 yard line, but just outside of comfortable field goal range. The consideration is being sure to not put your opponent in too good of field position should you not make it on 4th down. And passing up almost certain points is foolish.

What happens more often is going for it if the line of scrimmage is near the goal line. Even if the offense fails, the team taking over on downs needs to be wary of giving up a safety, and the likelihood that an ensuing punt will give the original offense good field position is high.

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    I like how this answer implies that there is a risk/reward balance that needs to be considered. A 60% chance when you're backed up inside your own 10 is not even close to a 60% chance inside the opponents red zone. And that's without any other considerations as well. – Broots Waymb Feb 19 at 17:03

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