Ravens or 49ers? Who has the Analytics Advantage?

It’s Super Bowl Week, meaning that football chit chat will probably dominate the water cooler (and team meetings) more than any other topic. But just because you and your coworkers are talking sports doesn’t mean that you’re escaping the world of analytics.

Several sports teams, including baseball, basketball, and football teams, have been using analytics for a while now. The Boston Red Sox is said to have one of the most talented analytics minds in baseball, while the Rockets hold that title in the NBA. Surprisingly, the analytics champions of football, the Patriots, didn’t make the Super Bowl despite all of their interpreted data (i). Instead, another analytics powerhouse, the 49ers, and the analytics newbies, the Ravens, will be dueling on the field.

Off the field, prior to the game, the analytics teams will be hard at work sifting through data to try to find some sort of advantage. The difference is, the Ravens analytics team (as far as we know, both teams are quite secretive about such things) will be focusing on data directly related to the game of football. The 49ers on the other hand have used analytics to not only choose plays, but also to “[optimize] the fan experience”. The importance of the fans happiness lends itself too the ever-powerful “home team advantage” that comes from fan turnout and enthusiasm in the Super Bowl location.

But which team has the analytics advantage? Thomas Davenport, one of the big wigs in analytics, analyzed both of the team’s data strategies using his DELTA method and determined that the 49ers have an advantage with experience, but the Ravens have the advantage with focus (ii). So from the analytics point of view, the game is a toss-up.

Either way, it should be an interesting game, and maybe you’ll win a Super Bowl party pool with some analytics of your own.

(i) Ravens + Analytics = Super Bowl? All Analytics

(ii) The Super Bowl of Analytics CIO Journal

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Pat Fiorenza

Interesting stuff – It’s remarkable how much data we generate and how organizations are using information. It’s amazing how the teams are looking at data to get a competitive advantage, both on and off the field.

Marian Henderson

I found it interesting that they are using analytics to optimize the fan experience. How fun is that!? BTW the 49ers and Kaepernick are poised to win. I’m not biased, it’s just that I have a daughter at UNR & have been watching Kap for the last 4 years.