How Supply Chain Best Practice Metrics Can Predict the NFL Super Bowl

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For those that follow the National Football League (NFL), these next few weekends are going to be engaging. We are down to the final four teams: Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and the Green Bay Packers. With full disclosure, I have to say that I do not have a rooting interest. I grew up in Pittsburgh, and it is Steelers all day.

But, that didn't stop me from wondering who the Super Bowl champion would be. So, I decided to use supply chain best practice metrics to predict the Super Bowl participants, and the ultimate winner.

I remember when my parents questioned my plan to go after a dual degree in college – Industrial Engineering and Statistics. Only four more courses would get me the Statistics degree - that cost a lot of money. And, now, after 25 years, it’s about to pay off! The winner of Super Bowl XLIX (or 49) will be… Okay, not just yet… Let’s consider that best in class supply chains use ‘Value’ to measure success: Value = [(Service * Quality) / (Cost * Speed)] + Innovation This is a simple equation, but yet very effective when used as an end-to-end metric. Much like supply chain, a focus on a single, functional area will improve one facet, but not the complete network. This ‘Value’ equation accounts for the end-to-end success. Now, I’d like to challenge the Analyst community! If this model accurately predicts the Super Bowl, then let’s consider using this to rank the Top Supply Chains. So, without further ado, in terms of the NFL, ‘Value’ would be:


For this metric, I searched for the best indicator of “does this team provide its customers with a high level of service” and “are the customers willing to “go above and beyond” in support of their team”? Forbes came up with a ranking of NFL Fan Base, using ‘stadium attendance’, ‘television ratings’, ‘merchandise income’, ‘social media rank’, and ‘fan club count’ (including season ticket waiting list count). This accurately identifies a high level of service.

Team Stadium Attendance Television Ratings Merchandise Social Media Fan Club Waiting List
Green Bay Packers 6 3 5 1 10 111,072
New England Patriots 6 9 3 4 6 60,000
Indianapolis Colts 6 12 15 5 3 None
Seattle Seahawks NR NR NR NR NR 12,000



The quality of an NFL team depends on two factors: Does the offense score touchdowns and/or gain first downs? And, does the defense stop touchdowns and/or first downs? DSR, or Drive Success Rate, as determined by Pro Football Prospectus, measures the percentage of down series that result in a first down or touchdown.

Team Net Yards per Drive Net Points per Drive Net DSR
Seattle Seahawks 7.180 0.750 0.052
Indianapolis Colts 4.620 0.550 0.047
New England Patriots 1.380 0.810 0.047
Green Bay Packers 6.000 0.840 0.044



Some NFL teams have a net value of nearly $3.2B (Dallas Cowboys). The total net value of all 32 NFL teams is $45.7B USD. But, I think ‘Cost’ should be driven off what revenue is created against the operating income. So, ‘Cost’ calculation is NFL team revenue/Operating Income.*

Team Revenue ($M USD) Operating Income ($M USD) Rev/OI
Seattle Seahawks 288 27.3 10.549
Indianapolis Colts 285 60.7 4.695
Green Bay Packers 299 25.6 11.680
New England Patriots 428 147.2 2.908



Speed is the metric that pulls all the functional areas together. I see in many supply chains the desire to focus on a single, functional metric. With the global and complex network of supply chains, the real challenge is taking this Value equation to all nodes of the network. I will use Football Outsiders rating – DVOA – or Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. This metrics breaks down every single NFL play and compares a team’s performance to a league baseline based on situation in order to determine value over average.

Team Total Team DVOA Offense DVOA Defense DVOA
Seattle Seahawks 31.9% 16.7% -16.3%
Green Bay Packers 23.3% 24.6% -1.0%
New England Patriots 22.4% 13.6% -3.4%
Indianapolis Colts 4.7% -0.9% -2.3%

  As always, positive numbers represent more points, so Defense is better when it is negative.


I remember my days at Apple, and the intense focus on innovation. We used the concept of Strengths Development + Engagement = Innovation. Steve Job’s gave me a quote, “Know what you know, and know what you don’t know, and surround yourself with people who know what you don’t know.” This is the core driver of Strengths Development. Not everyone has or “knows” all the strengths to run a supply chain. You need to figure out who are the “A” players, build up the “B” players, and play to your strengths. And, you need to be engaged, or in NFL terms, “on the field”. No supply chain, or NFL team, will be successful if they are standing on the sidelines. Therefore, I will use ‘Team Time of Possession’ as the ‘engagement’ metric. There is a direct correlation between teams with a time of possession and winning the game.   Strengths Development:

Team Points Plays Yards per Game Yards per Play
Seattle Seahawks 248 864 268.6 4.7
Green Bay Packers 328 988 348.6 5.3
New England Patriots 296 975 349.2 5.4
Indianapolis Colts 359 948 352.7 5.6


Team Possessions per Game Total Time % of Possession
Seattle Seahawks 32 525 54.69%
Indianapolis Colts 31 510 53.13%
Green Bay Packers 30 488 50.83%
New England Patriots 29 473 49.27%

  Now, let’s break down the winner…

  Service Quality Cost Speed Innovation  
          Strengths Development Engagement Total
Green Bay Packers 1 1 4 2 2 3 13
Seattle Seahawks 4 2 1 1 1 1 10
Indianapolis Colts 3 3 2 4 4 2 18
New England Patriots 2 4 3 3 3 4 19

  There you have it. Using the supply chain best practice “Value” equation, the Super Bowl will be:

Seattle Seahawks vs Indianapolis Colts With the Seattle Seahawks prevailing, and winning back to back Super Bowl Championships. As I said earlier, the challenge is out to the Analyst community! If this prediction is accurate, let’s remove the highly influenced peer, analyst, and academia voting. Let me know your “supply chain” measured predictions for the NFL Super Bowl!  


The Friday Round Up: Supply Chain in the News, January 12-16, 2015
- January 16, 2015 at 12:27pm
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