Predicting the Winner of Tied National Football League Games: Do the Details Matter?
Journal of Sports Economics
Department or Program
football, forecasting, sports strategy
We construct a data set of all 429 tied at the half regular season National Football League (NFL) games between 1994 and 2012. We then examine whether or not the path taken to reach the tie (e.g., rushing yards, turnovers, etc.) has any ability to predict the eventual winner. Our main finding is that only the point spread is significantly predictive, although there is weak evidence to suggest that allowing more sacks reduces the chances of winning. Surprisingly, we find that the team receiving the first possession of the second half does not enjoy a statistically significant advantage. Teams should thus simply try to maximize their first half lead without expecting that first half strategies such as “establishing the run” will pay dividends in the second half.
Quenzel, J. and Shea, P. 2016. "Predicting the Winner of Tied National Football League Games: Do the Details Matter?" Journal of Sports Economics. 17(7): 661-671. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527002514539688