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An innovative approach to National Football League standings using optimal bonus points


  • Niven Winchester

    () (Department of Economics, University of Otago)

  • Raymond T. Stefani

    () (College of Engineering, California State University, Long Beach)


Bonus points provide a simple way to improve the accuracy of league standings. We investigate the inclusion of bonuses in the National Football League (NFL) using a prediction model built on league points. Both touchdown-based and narrow-loss bonuses are shown to be significant. Our preferred system awards four points for a win, two for a tie, one point for scoring four or more touchdowns and one point for losing by seven or fewer points. Such a system would also make it easier for supporters to identify playoff contenders and place importance on otherwise meaningless end-of-game plays.

Suggested Citation

  • Niven Winchester & Raymond T. Stefani, 2009. "An innovative approach to National Football League standings using optimal bonus points," Working Papers 0905, University of Otago, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:otg:wpaper:0905

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    File Function: First version, 2009
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anurag N. Banerjee & Johan F. M. Swinnen & Alfons Weersink, 2007. "Skating on thin ice: rule changes and team strategies in the NHL," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 40(2), pages 493-514, May.
    2. Boulier, Bryan L. & Stekler, H. O., 2003. "Predicting the outcomes of National Football League games," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 257-270.
    3. Stefan Szymanski, 2003. "The Economic Design of Sporting Contests," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1137-1187, December.
    4. Zuber, Richard A & Gandar, John M & Bowers, Benny D, 1985. "Beating the Spread: Testing the Efficiency of the Gambling Market for National Football League Games," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(4), pages 800-806, August.
    5. Raymond Stefani, 1997. "Survey of the major world sports rating systems," Journal of Applied Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(6), pages 635-646.
    6. David Romer, 2006. "Do Firms Maximize? Evidence from Professional Football," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 340-365, April.
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    More about this item


    tournament design; sports predictions; NFL;

    JEL classification:

    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism


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