In 2015 the extra point kick will be attempted from the 15-yard line. This will make it the equivalent of a 33-yard field goal, but what will it do to the NFL Odds?
At distances between 30 and 39 yards last season, NFL kickers made over 90% of their attempts from those distances. Eight kickers didn’t miss from those distances throughout the season, and if you think about it, 90% is still really good. In fact there were six kickers who made 90% of all of their field goal attempts throughout the season, and the lowest among guys who had at least 30 field goal attempts was Blair Walsh, who was still 26-35 for 74%.
So the question remains, what will this do to NFL betting lines this season? Will the sportsbooks look at this and think that it could affect totals and spread, or will they ignore it and look at it as just another variable in one of the highest variance sports in all of the land? It seems to be the latter.
Over at Five Thirty Eight they have some great research on this, and the overall consensus is that it won’t change much in regards to game planning, let alone the scores of the game. They project that kickers will make about 96% of their extra point attempts from those distances, which is only a few percentage points lower than what it is right now at the old distances.
On top of that, they show a really nice graphic on when the NFL moved the goal posts back in the 1970s, and the first year the extra point only dropped 6% from 98 to 92.
Go for it?
The final scenario that makes this rule a little more unknown is how much it will affect coaches going for two points instead of kicking the longer extra points. Even though it seems like the NFL odds of a kicker missing an extra point is only going to be slightly higher, the odds of converting on a two-point try are still roughly 50-50 according to Five Thirty Eight and last year’s data. In other words it seems as if the situation of the game, not the chances of converting are going to dictate what a coach decides to do after scoring a touchdown.
If I had to guess, we will see some more two-point tries this season than last. Especially from teams who have a less than accurate kicker. There were seven teams who didn’t even attempt a two-point play last season, and the overall conversion percentage for two-point plays in 2014 was exactly 50%. While it may not even be enough to measure, this could have a positive affect on teams who incorporated the two-point play a lot last season. The Rams were very successful going for two last season a 5-6 on the year, and the Cowboys were also good going 3-4 on the season. However other than possibly intriguing those coaches to go for two points a little more, or for a coach who doesn’t trust his kicker than week, it shouldn’t have too much of an affect on game outcomes or covering spread and total NFL picks in the betting odds.