In David Halberstam's book The Education of a Coach, he tells how a young Bill Belichick encouraged his New York Giants defense to let Buffalo's Thurman Thomas rush for 100 yards in the Super Bowl. I discuss the relevance to this year's Super Bowl between Belichick's New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. Additional topics include whether either defense can slow down the opposing offense, and the relative importance of passing versus rushing in the NFL.
Rufus Peabody, professional sports gambler and ESPN predictive sports analytics expert, joins me on this week's show. He discusses his Massey-Peabody predictions for the NFL playoff games, and we find Green Bay at Atlanta particularly interesting. Rufus also reveals some new work on home field advantage that impacts this game.
I'm joined by Dr. Ben Alamar, Director of Sports Analytics at ESPN. Ben tells us how he got into the sports analytics and the good work ESPN does with FPI (Football Power Rank), an advanced ranking and prediction system. He gives predictions for all 4 NFL Divisional Playoff games and advice on how to break into sports analytics.
Cade Massey, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, runs the Massey-Peabody site for football rankings and predictions. We discuss his predictions for the college football title game between Alabama and Clemson as well as his outlook for the 2017 NFL Playoffs. Cade also discusses the humility he has learned from building a football model.