A Game-theoretic Approach to the Football Endgame: When Should the "2-Minute Drill" Begin?

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Logan McGuire, Franklin Kenter


This paper investigates when NFL teams should switch to a “hurry-up” offense toward the end of the game. While colloquially called “the 2-minute drill,”  teams should make this transformation much earlier- typically between 6 and 10 minutes remaining; however the exact answer depends on many factors including point differential and field position. This analysis uses a recursive game-theoretic approach utilizing payoff matrices based on the past 20 seasons of play-by-play NFL data via nflfastR.