Let’s play a little game.  I’ll give you a scenario and you decide whether you’d rather be on offense in that scenario or defense in that scenario.  The answers will be based on the win probability calculator at pfref.com.  In all instances below the Las Vegas point spread is a pick’em (0).

  1. Tie score.  4th quarter.  2:20 to go.  3rd and 8 from the offense’s 20 yard line.  Do you want to be on offense or defense?
  2. Offense is down by 2 points.  4th quarter.  :40 seconds to go.  1st and 10 at the 50.  You want to be the offense or the defense?
  3. Offense is down by 7 points.  4th quarter.  :30 seconds to go.  1st and 10 at the defense’s 30.  Offense or defense?
  4. Tie score.  1st quarter.  14:50 to go.  1st and 10 at the offense’s 5.  Do you want to the ball or do you want to be on defense?
  5. Offense is down by 3.  It’s OT.  10:20 to go.  2nd and 5 at the 50.  Do you want to be on offense or on defense?

Here are my guesses, before I go look up these scenarios.

  1. I’ll go with defense there.  I figure I have a good chance to stop them on 3rd and 8 and should come up with pretty good field position after a punt from their own 20.
  2. I’ll go with defense there.  I’m up by 2, which means the offense has to score.  They’re at the 50, which is still outside of field goal range and there’s not a lot of time left on the clock.
  3. Defense again.  I’d rather be up by 7 with :30 seconds to go than have the ball down by 7 just outside the red zone.
  4. Defense again.  I have them backed up deep at their own 5.
  5. I’m going to go with offense this time since all my other guesses were defense.  2nd and 5 is a good down and distance, and the 50 is a good spot on the field.  Decent shot here at least getting into field goal range and tying it up.

And now for the actual answers.

  1. Defense has it.  Offense’s win probability is only 33.44%.
  2. Offense is the answer, win probability: 99.45%.
  3. Defense has it.  Offense’s win probability: 36.81%.
  4. Slight edge to the defense here.  Offense’s win probability: 48.90%.
  5. Defense has advantage.  Offense’s win probability: 43.30%.

Looks like I was right on 3/5 (not very good).  I have some doubts about the win probability calculator’s answer for #2 though.  Over 99% win probability doesn’t seem right, but maybe it is.  I’m not real happy with my results.  Did you do better?  You should have.  But most importantly, hopefully you had fun with the little quiz.