Superbowl 2018 The Patriots vs The Eagles: The Analytics Angle

Dateline: February 2, 2018

Welcome to our Friday WRAP – one thought-provoking idea to think about over the weekend.

It’s a big weekend for football fans, since the Superbowl is this Sunday.  The New England Patriots are facing the Philadelphia Eagles in Minnesota.  Just full disclosure: while I’m a big Patriots Fan (especially spending so much time in Boston these days), I’m also an Eagles fan (since their QB Nick Foles went to the same high school as my daughter in Austin, Texas).  So it was delightful to find an article this week about how both teams successfully used analtyics to help their teams get to the Superbowl.  The article, Eagles, Patriots both relied on analtyics to help them reach the Super Bowl, suggests that both teams use analytics extensively this season, for free agency, drafting day, during games and beyond.  For example, both teams seem to use analytics to make calls for plays that might otherwise seem unreasonable.

…no coach in the NFL is more aggressive about going for it on fourth down than Doug Pederson, and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said during the season that that aggressiveness is tied to the team’s analytics research, which found that the benefits of a fourth-down conversion usually outweigh the costs of failing on fourth down.


On the sideline, the most controversial call of Belichick’s career appeared to be influenced by analytics: When Belichick went for it on fourth-and-2 from his own 28-yard line late in a 2009 loss to the Colts, it was the analytics people who said he had made the mathematically correct decision, while most football fans and media members thought Belichick had lost his mind.

For those analytically-inclined, this article has a number of other examples of hiring staff, picking players, calling plays, and other insights where decisions were based on analytics.

Where else might these winning teams use analytics?  What decisions in your organization might be better made with analytics?

That’s a WRAP!  Have a great Superbowl Weekend!  Go Pats! Go Eagles!

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