Harvard Study Picks Super Bowl

Published: July 24, 2015

Harvard Study Picks Super Bowl, The Cambridge, Massachusetts school is known for a lot of things, like producing Nobel winners, presidents and Supreme Court Justices.

One thing the school’s not known for though is its NFL picks. However, that could change if the Dolphins somehow manage to win the AFC this year, which Kurt Bullard is predicting will happen.

Bullard designed a prediction model for the 2015 NFL season that was published on the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective (HSAC) webpage Wednesday and that model is predicting that the Dolphins will be the best team in the AFC, followed by the Chiefs and Patriots.

So how exactly does Bullard’s prediction model work?

I’ll let him explain.

From the HSAC page.

The method that I came up with uses Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value statistic, the site’s best measure of trying to tease out individual talent. Then, using ESPN’s NFL depth charts, I aggregated each team’s per game approximate value of what I considered to be the ‘core’ makeup of an NFL team: QB, RB, 2 WR, TE, Top 2 OL, the Top-4 ‘Front Seven’ defensive players, and the Top-2 players from the secondary.
Basically, on offense, it comes down to a team’s top seven players vs. another team’s top seven players. On defense, it comes down to one team’s top-9 vs. another team’s top-9.

Bullard’s model doesn’t take the schedule into account, which I think is going to kill the Chiefs. Kansas City opens up at Houston, before hosting Denver on Thursday night. After that, the Chiefs will spend their next two weeks on the road against the Packers and Bengals.

That could be 0-4 for Kansas City and 0-4 teams don’t make the playoffs. Actually, one 0-4 team did, the 1992 Chargers.

UPDATE (July 23, 11 a.m.): Bullard has clarified that his model does take the schedule into account. That being said, I still think the Chiefs are going to fall flat on their face during the season’s first four weeks.

Are these guys coaching the two best teams in the AFC? (USATSI)

As for other weird nuances in Bullard’s model: The Ravens are ranked 28th, the Vikings are ranked 25th, and the highest ranked NFC South team (Atlanta) is 18th overall.

It’s probably also worth noting that the Giants, at No. 13, are the highest ranked team in the NFC East. Sorry Cowboys and Eagles fans.

You can see each team’s ranking below, along with the team’s percentage chance of making the playoffs.

In some cases, a team with a higher ranking has a lower playoff percentage than a team below it because of how the postseason is set up.

For instance, although the Falcons are ranked 18th, they have the 12th highest playoff percentage because a team from the NFC South — no matter how bad it is — has to make the playoffs.

2015 NFL prediction from the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective

(Overall ranking, team, percentage chance of making playoffs)

1. Seattle Seahawks: 95 percent chance of making the playoffs (Highest chance)

2. Green Bay Packers 93 percent

3. Miami Dolphins 77 percent

4. Kansas City Chiefs: 66 percent

5. New England Patriots: 62 percent

6. Denver Broncos: 62 percent

7. Detroit Lions: 53 percent

8. New York Jets: 56 percent

9. Indianapolis Colts: 62 percent

10. Buffalo Bills: 43 percent

11. Pittsburgh Steelers: 51 percent

12. Houston Texans: 54 percent

13. NY Giants: 42 percent

14. Cincinnati Bengals: 39 percent

15. Philadelphia Eagles: 35 percent

16. Dallas Cowboys: 23 percent

17. San Diego Chargers: 33 percent

18. Atlanta Falcons: 51 percent

19. New Orleans Saints: 42 percent

20. Arizona Cardinals: 29 percent

21. Chicago Bears: 25 percent

22. Washington Redskins: 18 percent

23. Carolina Panthers: 19 percent

24. Cleveland Browns: 20 percent

25. Minnesota Vikings: 12 percent

26. San Francisco 49ers: 12 percent

27. St. Louis Rams: 10 percent

28. Baltimore Ravens: 9 percent

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3 percent

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3 percent

31. Tennessee Titans: 2 percent

32. Oakland Raiders: 1 percent

Just in case you’re wondering what the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective (HSAC) is, it’s “a student-run organization at Harvard College dedicated to the quantitative analysis of sports strategy and management. Founded in 2006, the club meets weekly and is for students interested in sports statistics, sports business, and problem solving. HSAC has become an analysis partner for several sports related publications and companies and we are available to engage in additional projects.”


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