Football Ops

Football Ops

Protecting the integrity of the greatest game.

NFL Ops: Honoring the Game

It's our responsibility to strengthen the sport.

League Governance

Ensuring a consistent and fair game that is decided on the field, by the players.

Social Justice

NFL COVID-19 Protocols

NFL Rules Enforcement

Ensuring that players conduct themselves in a way that honors the sport and respects the game.

NFL Way to Play

Knees Bent. Pads Down. Head Up and Out.

The NFL and HBCUs

The NFL is proud of the HBCU professional football legacy.

Economic & Social Impact

Honoring the league’s commitment to serve the communities where the game is played.

The NFL Ops Team

Meet the people behind NFL Operations.

The Game

The Game

Learn about the people, the jobs and the technology that deliver the best game possible to NFL fans across the U.S. and around the world. 

Game Day: Behind the Scenes

Countdown to kickoff: how NFL games happen.

Game Day Assistants

See the NFL personnel at every game, what they do and you can identify them. 

Technology

In the NFL, balancing technology with tradition.

Impact of Television

How television has changed the game.

History of Instant Replay

Upon further review…

Creating the NFL Schedule

It takes hundreds of computers and five NFL executives to create the NFL’s 256-game masterpiece.

Big Data Bowl

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

Youth Football

Promoting the values of football.

The Players

The Players

Learn how NFL players have changed over time, how they’re developed and drafted and how the league works with them after their playing days are over.  

Evolution of the NFL Player

Creating an NFL player: from “everyman” to “superman.”

Development Pipeline

Supporting the next generation of players and fans.

Getting Into the Game

Preparing players of all ages for success at football’s highest level.

The NFL Draft

Introducing the next wave of NFL superstars. 

NFL Player Engagement

A look at the programs and services NFL Player Engagement provides to assist every player before, during and after his football career.

NFL Legends Community

Strengthening the NFL brotherhood.

NFL Total Wellness

NFL Total Wellness assists players, Legends and their families before, during and after their playing experiences.

The Officials

The Officials

Discover the evolution of professional officiating, the weekly evaluation process and how the NFL identifies and develops the next generation of officials.

In Focus: History of the Official

“One thing hasn’t changed: the pressure. It will always be there.”

Inside NFL GameDay Central

The latest information from the NFL's officiating center.

These Officials Are Really Good

Every week, officials take the field ready to put months of preparation, training and hard work on display, knowing that the whole world — and the Officiating Department — is watching.

Officiating Development

Officiating an NFL game takes years of training and experience. 

The Rules

The Rules

NFL Football Operations protects the integrity of the game by ensuring that the rules and the officiating are consistent and fair to all competitors.

In Focus: Evolution of the NFL Rules

The custodians of football not only have protected its integrity, but have also revised its playing rules to protect the players, and to make the games fairer and more entertaining.

NFL Video Rulebook

The NFL Video Rulebook explains NFL rules with video examples.

2020 NFL Rulebook

Explore the official rules of the game.

2020 Rules Changes and Points of Emphasis

NFL Overtime Rules

Signals Intelligence

The NFL's familiar hand signals help fans better understand the game.   

NFL Tiebreaking Procedures

The NFL's procedures for breaking ties for postseason playoffs.

NFL Rules Digest

A quick reference guide to the NFL rulebook.

Football 101

Football 101

Terms Glossary

Sharpen your NFL football knowledge with this glossary of the game's fundamental terms. 

Formations 101

See where the players line up in pro football's most common offensive and defensive formations.

Quick Guide to NFL TV Graphics

Understand what the graphics on NFL television broadcasts mean and how they can help you get the most out of watching NFL games.

NFL Instant Replay Process

The NFL’s instant replay review process focuses on expediting instant replay reviews and ensuring consistency. Learn how it works.

Stats Central

Stats Central

Go inside the game with the NFL's official game stats. Sort the stats by season or by week.

The Extra Point

Welcome to the Extra Point, where members of the NFL's football data and analytics team will share updates on league-wide trends in football data, interesting visualizations that showcase innovative ways to use the league's data, and provide an inside look at how the NFL uses data-driven insight to improve and monitor player and team performance.

Chart The Data

Chart and compare the NFL Football Operations stats you're looking for with the NFL's data tool. 

Weekly Dashboard

Get a snapshot of the current NFL game stats, updated weekly during the regular season.

The Extra Point

2020 Big Data Bowl Recap

The second annual Big Data Bowl, powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), focused on predicting the outcomes of rushing plays during the 2019 season. Participants were provided with the NFL's Next Gen Stats, including speed, direction, and location information for all 22 players on the field at the moment a ball carrier receives the ball, and were tasked with predicting where the ball carrier would end up.

This year, six collegiate finalists presented their work to NFL club analytics staff at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Three honorable mention papers were also named. Below is a summary of each presentation and a link to the complete entry.

Grand Finalist

Matt Ploenzke (Harvard) 

Matt Ploenzke (AJ Mast/AP Images for NFL)

Matt Ploenzke (AJ Mast/AP Images for NFL)

Ploenzke used Next Gen Stats data to build interpretable model inputs based upon football-specific domain knowledge, ultimately highlighting the importance of ball carrier downfield acceleration and unblocked tackler distance and spacing. 

Key stat: Among roughly 40 input variables, a ball carrier’s “effective acceleration” was the most important for estimating yards gained on a handoff play.

Download Matt Ploenzke’s paper.

FINALISTS

Kellin Rumsey, Brandon DeFlon (University of New Mexico)

The battle between blocker and defender is often decided by leverage. In this paper, Rumsey and DeFlon define offensive and defensive leverage, and study the statistical properties of these metrics. 

Key stat: In the first six weeks of the 2017 season, Blake Martinez (Green Bay Packers) was among the league’s best at generating defensive leverage. Martinez finished the season with the third-most solo tackles (96).

Download Kellin Rumsey and Brandon DeFlon’s paper.

Graham Pash, Walker Powell (NC State)

Pash and Powell used kinematic data such as player positions and velocity to determine zones of control for both the offensive and defensive teams at the time of the handoff. These zones of control predict the probabilities of yards lost or gained and quantifies the risk involved with plays.

Key stat: Robert Woods (Los Angeles Rams) and Raheem Mostert (San Francisco 49ers) outperformed the model predictions the most, averaging nearly three more yards than predicted over the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Download Graham Pash and Walker Powell’s paper.

Namrata Ray, Jugal Marfatia (Washington State University)

Ray and Marfatia measured the open space of the rusher at three time intervals — handoff, after a half-second, and after one second — to understand the association between open space and yards gained. Results indicated that the difference in the open space between the time of handoff and after a half-second or full second was a strong predictor of the number of yards gained. 

Key Stat: Yards gained by the rusher increases by four yards on average for every one percent increase in the additional open area created within a half-second of the handoff.

Download Namrata Ray and Jugal Marfatia’s paper.

Alex Stern (University of Virginia)

Using an advanced machine learning algorithm, Stern assessed the value of initial space created for the ball carrier by the offensive line. That space was then linked to linemen grades, and standardized by accounting for the number of defensive backs, linebackers and defensive linemen on the play, the defensive strength of the opposing team, and the running direction of the running back. 

Key Stat: In 2018, New Orleans Saints center Max Unger received a top five grade according to Stern’s space grade rank for centers, despite being the 31st-graded run blocker by Pro Football Focus.

Download Alex Stern’s paper.

Caio Brighenti (Colgate University)

Brighenti computed each team's control of the field at the moment of the handoff to predict the outcome of rushes. Brighenti found that offensive control at the running back's expected point of intersection with the line of scrimmage was the most important predictor of run yardage.

Key Stat: The critical factor separating successful and unsuccessful plays is ownership of the run gap at the line of scrimmage — even on plays gaining more than 10 yards, the difference in field control past the line of scrimmage was almost negligible.

Download Caio Brighenti ’s paper.

Honorable mention papers

Bryant Davis (University of Florida)
Predicting Rushing Yards Using a Convolutional Autoencoder for Space Ownership

Aaron Kruchten (Carnegie Mellon) 
Estimating the Causal Effect of Defensive Formation on Yards Gained in Run Plays

Lucas Wu, Dani Chu, Matthew Reyers (Simon Fraser)
Breaking Through the Line: Evaluating Running Back Contributions to Running Plays

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