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Horse Tracks: Why don't NFL teams go for two more often?

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Dear Broncos, math says you should go for two more often. Love, Jon.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Down 21-7 against the Patriots in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the Broncos scored a touchdown and kicked an extra point to make it 21-14. Standard procedure for such a situation. But what if they had been more aggressive?

Later in the game, Denver kicked a field goal from New England's three-yard line to make it 21-17. Had they converted two points after their fourth quarter touchdown, that field goal would have made it a one-field goal game.

Kyle explained his tweet later: converting for two points would have made it 21-15, a six point game. Scoring two field goals seemed more feasible than a touchdown at the time, and a failed two-point attempt would have made it 21-13, still just a one-possession game.

Going for two then and converting a field goal at the three-yard line later would have made the score 21-18, putting Denver down just one field goal. It wasn't necessarily a bad decision, and Denver went on to win the game anyway in thrilling fashion, 30-24 in overtime.

But going for two more often is a topic worth discussing.

This year, NFL teams have gone 775-of-820 on PATs (94 percent). They've gone 33-of-71 on two-point attempts (46 percent). That 46 percent may not seem to be very appealing, but it includes the teams that have been awful this year (the Bears are 2-of-5, the Saints are 0-of-3, and the Seahawks are 1-of-4). Granted, some NFL teams have been bad on PATs, too, but the math says teams should probably go for two more often.

On 71 PATs with a 94 percent success rate, teams would score 66 points. On 71 two-point attempts with a 46 percent success rate, teams would score 66 points. According to the math, you have nothing to lose by going for two.*

That's not necessarily, true, however, because there's obviously everything to lose. The game is on the line. Sometimes (when down one point with no time left, for example), going for two would be foolish. Teams don't always have to be gutsy, going for the win instead of overtime, but they could be more aggressive.

On average, the same amount of points are scored with two-point attempts, but there's potential to score more points.

If you're good at it, like the Steelers (6-of-9, 66 percent), on 71 attempts you'll score 92 points. That's 26 more points than 71 PATs at the league average. You have to score more points than the other team to win, so 26 additional points should sound appealing.

Denver is among ten teams that have been perfect on PATs this year (25-of-25), with Brandon McManus deserving of much credit. They're 0-of-1 on two-point attempts. So why fix what's not broken, you ask?

Because I'm greedy. I like scoring points. I like scoring more points than the other team. I go for two nearly every time in Madden (not a fair comparison to real life, I know). I'd go for two in real life, too, more often than not. There's not much to lose, and there's everything to gain.

More points wins games, and winning is awesome.

Note I: This post was written before the completion of MNF, so PAT and two-point figures do not include last night's totals. PAT and two-point numbers were taken from sportingcharts.com.

*Note II: If you don't round the percentages, you'd score about half a point more on 71 kicks, but they both add up to about 66 points.

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