Defensive playcalling

Okay, let’s talk defensive playcalling.

Here is the first and most important thing to remember: the playcalling is not random. It follows real NFL data and probabilities as much as possible. This is all publicly available data, and I gathered as much as I can to make the CPU playcalling as realistic as possible.

In this short guide, I want to briefly highlight a few concepts that will help you improve your defensive playcalling percentage.

First off, let’s talk about first down.

NFL data suggests that on first down, you can roughly divide the field into three zones: two twenty-five-yard zones extending from each end zone, and a fifty-yard zone in the middle of the field. In that middle zone, the chances of a run or pass play are roughly 50/50. In either of the twenty-five yard zones, though, the chances of a running play are increased, particularly as you get closer to either goal line.

That makes sense. Teams are less likely to pass when they’re backed up near their own goal line, and they’re also less likely to pass when they are already close to their opponents goal line on first down.

Like anything else in the game, this is all probability-based, and there’s always a dice roll involved. So we are talking about tendencies, not certainties. There are no certainties in this game.

From second down onward, playcalling in the NFL is generally based on a simple rule: the further a team needs to go, and the fewer downs they have to do it, the more likely they are to pass. If it’s third and 40, for example, a pass is likely.

Here are two other basic rules, all coming from the NFL:
–if a team is well ahead in the fourth quarter, they are much more likely to call running plays to run more time off the clock.
–conversely, if they are well behind, they’re much more likely to pass. They’re also more likely to pass near the end of the first half, when time becomes an issue.

In Gridiron Solitaire, your playcalling percentage will usually improve when you are able to move the CPU into predictable playcalling positions. That predictability, in the NFL, is always a combination of time, score, down, and distance. The more you play the game, the more you will begin to recognize situations where the CPU playcalling is more predictable.

One more note: team ratings do influence playcalling. If a team’s net rating for the pass is better than their net rating for the run, there is a +passing modifier added to the playcalling probability, and it scales (larger the net ratings difference, the larger the effect). Listen to the pre-game broadcast to find out where you match up well (and where you don’t).