AWS and NFL debut new 'Next Gen' stats

Thursday, September 10, 2020

By: Sport Industry Group

The NFL will debut a series of new ‘Next Gen’ stats from Amazon Web Services as the new season begins on 10th September.

Six new insights will be available from the opening game between the Houston Texans and Super Bowl Champions Kansas City Chiefs. They will appear in broadcast and online throughout the season.

The two organisations have worked together since 2015, when the NFL began using AWS machine learning services to enhance its Next Gen stats. Since then, more than 200 million data points have been collected each season, and have helped lead to the introduction of six new stats, which will be showcased for the 2020 campaign.

According to the pair, the new stats include, ‘Expected Rush Yards’, which predicts the number of yards a running back is likely to gain with the ball; ‘Route Classification’, which automatically identifies, in real time, the route a player runs on a pass play; ‘Expected Yards After Catch (xYAC)’ which predicts how far a receiver is likely to gain with the ball upon completing a catch; and ‘Expected Points’, which calculates the likelihood of either team scoring next, as well as predicting whether they will score from a touchdown or a field goal.

The new stats will also include a ‘Win Probability’, to predict each team’s likelihood of winning as a percentage adjusted in real time, and ‘Field Goal Probability’ which translates the likelihood of a team scoring a field goal into a percentage, given the distance of the kick and weather conditions.

Leveraging Amazon SageMaker, AWS’s service for deploying machine learning models, the NFL says it has trained multiple variations of the machine learning models that power the stats to achieve the best performance.