Big Data Bowl

The annual analytics contest explores statistical innovations in football — how the game is played and coached.

Welcome to the NFL’s Big Data Bowl

The annual sports analytics contest from NFL Football Operations challenges members of the analytics community – from college students to professionals – to contribute to the NFL’s continuing evolution of the use of advanced analytics. The crowd-sourced competition uses data and technology to spur innovation that results in creating new insights, making the game more exciting for fans and protecting players from unnecessary risk.

Powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), contestants use traditional football data and Next Gen Stats to analyze and rethink trends and player performance, while also advancing the way football is played and coached. The Big Data Bowl aims to engage and empower the football analytics community to drive innovation.

The Fifth Annual Big Data Bowl

Using Next Gen Stats powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), the theme of the 2023 Big Data Bowl is to devise innovative approaches to analyzing pass blocking and pass rushing performance across the NFL. Participants have access to data from the 2021 season analyzing quarterback dropback pass situations, which include snap-to-pass release timing as well as sacks and scrambling plays. As in the 2019-2022 Big Data Bowls, the 2023 Big Data Bowl is hosted by Kaggle, the world’s largest community of machine learning practitioners, learners, and researchers.

Using this real-time data across a wide variety of players, plays and situations, participants are asked to identify metrics to assess offensive and defensive performances on both an individual and team basis. Participants will also be able to use PFF Scouting data, which features play, player and game characteristics derived from film analyses.

Hear about the 2023 Big Data Bowl and see who won the fifth annual competition. 

"Throughout four outstanding years of competition, we are increasingly impressed by the innovative data that is generated from our sports analytics community in the Big Data Bowl," said Michael Lopez, NFL senior director of football data and analytics. "Being able to engage with our fans in such a robust and creative manner has helped to continue to grow the game of football while also creating opportunities for our fans to pursue jobs throughout the league."

The Big Data Bowl Structure

Each year, the NFL Big Data Bowl calls on professional and aspiring amateur data scientists to devise innovative approaches to a specific challenge. Participants propose statistical, data-driven solutions using real-time data across a wide variety of players, plays and situations.

The call for participants typically is in the fall and the competition runs into early January. Entrants compete in two groups — College, featuring undergraduate and graduate students and Open, featuring young professionals not in higher education. Participants can work independently or form teams with other colleagues.

NFL club analytics staff judge each submission and work with NFL Football Operations staff to narrow down the finalists. Finalists then present their entry at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis to a panel of judges. In recent years, judges have included NFL Network predictive analytics expert, Cynthia Frelund, former Big Data Bowl participants, AWS data scientists and NFL linebacker Najee Goode.

Contestants in each year’s Big Data Bowl compete for prizes ranging from game tickets to cash, including a $100,000 prize for the competition. Even if participants do not finish as a finalist, the Big Data Bowl has served as a pipeline with NFL teams or their affiliate vendors.

Stay tuned to hear more about the next Big Data Bowl competition by following the NFL Football Operations Facebook and Twitter accounts.