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Touchdown: 7 NFL Teams Scoring with Analytics

Ahead of this weekend’s big game, here are seven National Football League teams looking to make a difference with new data techniques and tech.

Baltimore Ravens Baltimore Ravens

Before the season began for the eventual AFC representative in Sunday’s championship game, the Baltimore Ravens hired “director of football analytics,” Sandy Weil. While the team’s GM Ozzie Newsome only presented a general outline for the new hire – a former NBA stats consultant who would “provide an edge for us in personnel and coaching” – the Ravens did leave the team open as an analytic “work in progress.”

San Francisco 49ers San Francisco 49ers

The other team vying for the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday is accustomed to championship success – and looking at the data. The San Francisco 49ers COO Paraag Marathe first came to the team 12 years ago to help with analysis surrounding draft picks, something currently paying dividends on the field. Also, in plans for the team’s new Santa Clara, Calif. stadium and existing website are applications to streamline the game day experience and tap into social media feeds for business opportunities.

Dallas Cowboys Dallas Cowboys

When it comes to merchandising, the Cowboys have long been one of the most popular and recognizable brands in the league. And for the last few years, they have had some of the sharpest, real-time views on merchandising sales and reporting.

New England Patriots New England Patriots

Another long-time proponent of analytics for player performance, the Patriots were even a subject of interest in sports trend assessments a few years ago by MIT. Based on data analysis of risk and reward, coach Bill Belichick has taken a more daring attitude than most in the NFL toward running offensive plays on fourth down – when most conservatively punt the ball back to the opposing team – to varying degrees of success.

Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars

For the Jaguars, analytics are part of the family business. Upon purchase of the team last year, owner Shahid Kahn brought in his son, Tony Khan, as SVP Football Technology and Analytics for the start of a new department at the team. With the player and coaching data crunched by many teams, Tony Khan’s department takes an analytic approach to fan experience and injury prevention.

Atlanta Falcons Atlanta Falcons

Akin to the trucking industry, the Falcons are joining a small group of teams openly using GPS data to assess player movements during practice. The movement tracking data could bring more efficient plays, as Sports Illustrated reported, or create predictive models on injury potential, according to ESPN.

Buffalo Bills Buffalo Bills

Along with a new coaching staff and organizational structure, the Bills started 2013 with plans to include analytics in their team decision process. The new department would, in part, focus on player metrics and analyze salaries and spending limits.

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For viewpoints on the role of a “Moneyball” approach in the business of sports, or business in general, click here.

Title slide image used with permission from ThinkStock.

Decisions based on stats, odds and even analytics aren’t new to football. But a new breed of analytics, tackling data crunching and “Moneyball” approaches, is taking hold on the gridiron.


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