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.

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.

Technology

In the NFL, balancing technology with tradition.

Impact of Television

How television has changed the game.

Big Data Bowl

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

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.

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.

College All Star Games

Strengthening football and the community.

NFL Legends Community

Strengthening the NFL brotherhood.

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.

2019 NFL Rulebook

Explore the official rules of the game. 6.2.5

2019 Rules Changes and Points of Emphasis

NFL Overtime Rules

NFL Tiebreaking Procedures

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

Signals Intelligence

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

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

What the Top Predictions Looked Like in the NFL's Big Data Bowl

As part of the NFL’s second Big Data Bowl, more than 2,000 data scientists from all over the world competed on Kaggle to predict rushing play outcomes over the last five weeks of the 2019 regular season.

Data scientists Phillip Singer and Dmitry Gordeev from Austria captured the top prize of $50,000 with their highly technical approach. Nicknamed The Zoo on Kaggle, Singer and Gordeev’s team led throughout the contest, besting second place by the same scoring margin that separated second place and 24th place.

The Zoo posted their predictions on Kaggle, and today’s Extra Point assesses how closely their predictions matched what happened on the field. Note: each prediction was made only using run plays from the past. In statistical terms, these are considered out-of-sample predictions. 

What was being predicted?

The goal of the Kaggle contest was to predict where every ball carrier would end up on a handoff play. Participants were given several characteristics of the play, including the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, and game and play traits such as the down, distance, starting yard line and which players are on the field. 

For example, on this Cordarrelle Patterson carry for the Chicago Bears in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers, Patterson barely had a chance of reaching the line of scrimmage. The Zoo assigned the following probabilities: 

Patterson:

  • loses 3 yards or more: 9.4%
  • loses 2 yards: 19.4%
  • loses 1 yard: 19.9%
  • gains 0 yards: 21.4%
  • gains 1 yard: 11.5%
  • gains 2 yards: 6.9%
  • gains 3 yards or more: 7.2%

Patterson lost 2 yards on the play — one of the three most likely outcomes predicted by The Zoo’s model. 

While predictions on Patterson’s carry were grouped near zero yards, on this Raheem Mostert 41-yard touchdown run against the Carolina Panthers in Week 8, The Zoo gave the San Francisco 49ers back a 10.5% chance of reaching the end zone — making it more likely that he would score than Patterson was to pick up three yards. According to The Zoo, Mostert had a 61% chance of picking up 10 yards or more on his carry.

How accurate was The Zoo across all handoff plays?

Looking at all Big Data Bowl plays from Weeks 1–12 provides a sense of how precise these predictions were. The following chart groups each carry into a predicted number of yards, and averages the observed yardage gained within each group of predictions. The black dotted line corresponds to settings where predictions perfectly matched reality.

By and large, The Zoo’s predictions reflected what eventually happened on 2019 carries. For example, there were precisely five carries where The Zoo’s model predicted that the most likely yardage gained would be  20 yards — on those carries, the ball carriers averaged 19.2 yards. The Zoo’s most common yardage prediction was four yards, and of the 1,543 carries where four yards was the prediction, ball carriers averaged 3.98 yards. 

Predicting football outcomes is challenging, and the predictions made as part of the Big Data Bowl were no different. The Zoo’s most likely rushing distance on each play was an exact match on only 17.6% of plays, which means that more than four out of every five times, the offenses over or underperformed expectations. But being able to better understand what goes into successful plays — separating Patterson’s carry from Mostert’s, for example — gives us deeper insight into what drives ball carrier success. 

On February 26, The Zoo and other Kaggle top finishers will join finalists from the Big Data Bowl collegiate contest and present their results to NFL team analytics staff at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

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