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Activity Number: 230
Type: Contributed
Date/Time: Tuesday, August 5, 2008 : 8:30 AM to 10:20 AM
Sponsor: Section on Statistics in Sports
Abstract - #302026
Title: Is There Increased Parity in the NFL (Has Paul Tagliabue's Dream Come True)?
Author(s): Joseph Koopmeiners*+
Companies: University of Washington
Address: Department of Biostatistics, Seattle, WA, 98195,
Keywords: football ; state-space model ; Bayesian

The St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots completed worst-to-first turnarounds to win Super Bowls XXXIV and XXXVI, respectively, leading football fans and sports writers to speculate that the NFL had entered a new era of parity. We investigate this hypothesis by modeling year-to-year autocorrelation with a Bayesian state-space model using NFL regular season results from 1970 to 2006. By transforming the covariance parameters we can model the variance and autocorrelation parameters in a regression context allowing for a simple comparison over time. Autocorrelation decreased steadily over time while the variance decreased from the 1970s to the 1980s but remained constant thereafter. This suggests that there is increased parity in the NFL but that it has manifested itself in decreased year-to-year autocorrelation rather than decreased variance in team strengths.

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