Skill Curves in the NFL: Unlocking the Interactions between Passing & Rushing

The NFL has clearly turned to a pass-first league during the past decade or so, and for a good reason.  Passing is overall more efficient!  Indeed using play-by-play data from the 2014-2016 NFL seasons and the Winston-Sagarin-Cabot model for expected points, a passing play adds on average 0.25 expected points, while a rushing play adds… Read More Skill Curves in the NFL: Unlocking the Interactions between Passing & Rushing

In-game win probabilities Part 2: iWinrNFL

In the first part of our dealing with in-game probabilities we made some general comments about issues (or not) with these models. One of the problems with existing models is that they are not open, i.e., very little is known about their mechanics. Here I will present the details and the evaluation of a simple, yet… Read More In-game win probabilities Part 2: iWinrNFL

In-game win probability models Part 1: Are they failing?

Now that the dust from Super Bowl LI has settled (and even Brady found his jersey) let’s talk a bit about a topic that was discussed a lot in the aftermath of the game – at least within the sports analytics community.  That is no other but the in-game win probability models that several media… Read More In-game win probability models Part 1: Are they failing?

The curious case of the 2-yard line

A lot of discussion has been going on on whether teams should start going more often for a two-point conversion after a touchdown.  While it seems that with last year’s PAT kick rule changes the benefits of going for 2 after a touchdown are more clear, little attention has been given to the actual play… Read More The curious case of the 2-yard line

To go or not to go…? (for 4th down)

Fourth down decisions certainly create a lot of chatter, especially when your team loses – after all we all love to be backseat drivers. Coaches are certainly hesitant going for it at fourth down situations (similar to the 2-point conversion VS PAT kick decision).  While at times this is indeed the “best” decision, going for it is… Read More To go or not to go…? (for 4th down)

The NFL Fractals

American football is certainly a complex sport. Given that complex systems are described many times through fractals (and we have also used fractlas in this blog to describe basketball players) can we get a fractal-based description of NFL teams? It turns out we can! One of the benefits of using fractal theory to describe complex systems is… Read More The NFL Fractals

Bench depth and rotation for the win: Myth or reality?

Team sports are won by teams. This mean that you need to have not just a good starting line-up but depth in the bench as well.  How much depth? And how much time should you give to the bench to carry the team? Or are all these just a myth?  In this blog post I… Read More Bench depth and rotation for the win: Myth or reality?

NFL OT: Where randomness prevails…or not?

A lot of ink has been wasted discussing the OT rules in the NFL.  The argument goes that a lot of power is given to a random coin flip.  In particular, a few years back it used to be the case that the team that would receive the kick-off (which was decided based on a… Read More NFL OT: Where randomness prevails…or not?

Rethinking divisions and conferences in NFL

Teams in NFL are divided into two conferences and 8 divisions (see map). Given that the regular season includes only 16 games for each team it is clear that a team cannot play all the rest of the teams.  There is an extremely complicated algorithm for obtaining the schedule of the regular season (various game-related… Read More Rethinking divisions and conferences in NFL

Two-point conversion: My two data cents

The PAT kick has turned into as a ceremonial of a play as the ceremonial first pictch in baseball! It is not a stretch to argue that people new in the sport of American football think that a touchdown is worth 7 points instead of 6. For these newcomers to the sport, it might also… Read More Two-point conversion: My two data cents