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How mathematicians are trying to make NFL schedules fairer

Jon C. in MD : 4/16/2019 5:21 am
This is a cool article. Every year I go thru the giants schedule and I tally up the “advantage” games and the “disadvantage” games. Always wondered if the nfl does something similar. (Which I doubted since the giants always seem to come up with more disadvantage games). It turns out they use quite a more sophisticated way to calculate essentially the same concept. This is a good read.
ESPN article - ( New Window )
Most Teams Fans  
djstat : 4/16/2019 9:04 am : link
Feel there team has more disadvantage games.
Interesting  
Matt in SGS : 4/16/2019 9:11 am : link
I posted a while back in one of the data science threads that I worked with a team at McKinsey who were all data scientists/analysts and they partnered with the NFL to help them create the schedule. And they focused on maximizing ratings and used historical data to project the best way to set up the schedules. Basically this part

Quote:
The first step is based in both math and reality. Before creating the schedule, the NFL identifies a small number of games -- usually between 40 and 50 -- to lock in. The league refers to this as "seeding." It helps accommodate expectations from television partners for key games in certain time slots, as well as about 200 annual requests from owners who prefer their stadiums not be used in a given week because of concerts, baseball games, marathons and other potential complications.


They were involved in this seeding. And that's when I asked them to change the algorithm to do 2 things

- Put the Giants on at 1 PM
- Don't start the season in Dallas

They laughed, but I don't think they realized I wasn't joking.
Matt..  
FatMan in Charlotte : 4/16/2019 9:13 am : link
that's awesome!
What is fair???  
EricJ : 4/16/2019 9:17 am : link
the schedule based upon last year's results? We see too often when it looks like teams will be "soft" from a schedule perspective and they end up being better than we thought. Meanwhile, facing what people perceive to be a top team is bad when that team does not make the playoffs when the season is over.

I know that nobody here is complaining... but those who do should just focus on themselves and playing the game. The schedule will take care of itself.
There was a professor of optimization in my grad school that...  
BestFeature : 4/16/2019 9:22 am : link
...makes MLB schedules. Seems interesting.
So, are we playing Dallas on the road to open the season again?  
Moondawg : 4/16/2019 9:41 am : link
.
RE: What is fair???  
Jim in Tampa : 4/16/2019 9:56 am : link
In comment 14388250 EricJ said:
Quote:
the schedule based upon last year's results? We see too often when it looks like teams will be "soft" from a schedule perspective and they end up being better than we thought. Meanwhile, facing what people perceive to be a top team is bad when that team does not make the playoffs when the season is over.

I know that nobody here is complaining... but those who do should just focus on themselves and playing the game. The schedule will take care of itself.

If you read the article, that's not what they mean by "fair" and "unfair".

An example of "unfair" would be for your team to play a division opponent that is coming off a BYE or a Thursday night game, as they've had more time to rest than your team has.

Or an East-coast team having to play a Thursday night game in CA.

The schedule-makers are trying to reduce or eliminate those types of "unfair" games. It has nothing to do with strength of schedule.

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