Improbabilities of Football: Ties

Starting in the 2017-18 season, the duration of overtime was decreased to 10 minutes (previously was 15) in an effort to mitigate the number of injuries. Since then, there have been only two ties: Minnesota vs Green Bay and Steelers vs Browns, both of which came in the beginning of this season (early September). In the former matchup, the Steelers’ kicker, Chris Boswell, and the Browns kicker, Zane Gonzalez missed field goals in the waning minutes of extra time.

In the latter tie, Daniel Carlson (Vikings’ kicker) bonked two field goal attempts.

The probability of a tie based on the results from the 2017-18 season and the 2018-19 season is equal to:

# of games ending in a tie / total # of games played

2 / 512 = 0.00390625 or .390625%

There has been an average of a tie / season thus far.The probability of a team tying two games in consecutive weeks is slimmer than the chance of getting struck by lightning in your lifetime.

  • 1 / 256 (probability of tying a game) * 1 / 256 = 0.00001526 or .001526% chance of tying two games in consecutive weeks
  • 1 / 12,000 = 0.00008333 or .008333% chance of getting struck by lightning in your lifetime

The probability of a team tying three games in three consecutive weeks is slimmer than the chance of getting struck by lightning this year.

  • 1 / 256 * 1 / 256 * 1 / 256 = 0.00000005960 or .000005960% chance of tying three games in three consecutive weeks
  • 1 / 960,000 = 0.000001042 or 0.0001042% chance of getting struck by lightning this year

The probability of a team tying four games in four consecutive weeks is slimmer than the chance of winning the Powerball jackpot.

  • 1 / 256 * 1 / 256 * 1 / 256 * 1 / 256 = 0.0000000002328 or .00000002328% chance of tying four in four consecutive weeks
  • 1 / 292,000,000 = 0.000000003435 or .0000003435% chance of winning the Powerball jackpot

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