AWS for M&E Blog

Feel the Pressure with new online game ‘Playbook Pass Rush’ from AWS and NFL Next Gen Stats

Are you ready to test your strategic skill and jump head first into the world of National Football League (NFL) analytics? Look no further than the immersive online game “Playbook Pass Rush” developed by AWS and the NFL Next Gen Stats team. Whether you’re a football enthusiast with a penchant for game strategy or just looking for a quick challenge, this game invites you to put your play-calling chops to the test based on real NFL stats.

Change the game with analytics from the trenches

Imagine yourself on the sidelines of a high-stakes NFL game, with seconds left on the clock and the outcome hanging in the balance. You’re the coach, and every move you make can mean the difference between a win and a loss. This is the essence of “Playbook Pass Rush.” The unique aspect of the game is that it integrates real-world strategies and is based on Pressure Probability, the newest AI-powered stat developed by AWS and the NFL Next Gen Stats team that quantifies, for the first time, the pressure for every pass rusher for every second of every passing play.

To create the Pressure Probability stat, AWS and the NFL Next Gen Stats team developed four new AI models based on over 90,000 plays from the last five years’ worth of NFL games. Using sensor data from an entire play, the AWS team first identified defensive rushers, offensive blockers, and how they’d match up against each other. The AI model measures how quickly a pressure occurs, the magnitude of the pressure, and how it changes over the course of the play. Other factors include how clear a path the rusher has to the quarterback, and how the quarterback reacts to an oncoming rusher.

As you make decisions in “Playbook Pass Rush,” the game provides you with statistics and insights to help you choose your moves wisely. Watching those moves play out on the field, you might see that the opposing team’s pass-rush pressure rate was high, and your offensive line struggled to protect the quarterback. Or that the double-team you set up left an opening that let a rusher in to sack the quarterback. It’s a crash course in NFL play-calling, and an addictive challenge that will keep you trying your skill as you build your experience.

Navigating the gridiron: Strategies in Pressure Probability

The concept is simple, yet the execution is delightfully complex. Choose which side of the ball you want to play, offense or defense. Whichever you pick, your mission is the same: lead your team to victory. But here’s the catch—you’ll need to consider every aspect of the game, from blocking assignments to the opponents’ defensive strategies.

Using real-time data from the AWS Next Gen Stats system to mimic the conditions of an actual NFL game, “Playbook Pass Rush is more than a game; it’s a mental exercise in strategic thinking.

On offense, your challenge is to protect your QB by designating blocking responsibilities. Pick your formation based on down and distance. Is the opposing team gearing up for a blitz, or will they sit back in coverage? Once your players are in place, you tap each offensive player and assign them to a defender. Set up double teams if you think that’ll be effective, and decide whether tight ends will run or block. Hike the ball and watch your pressure probability rise and fall as your decisions play out. Will it be a completion or have you allowed pressure that forced an interception or a sack?

On defense, you can design pass rush routes to maximize pressure on the quarterback. Pick your formation based on the game situation and hit the field. Will it be a 3-4 base? Maybe a 2-4-5 double-A gap? Now you have to think through your rush routes for each player. You could simply use the recommended routes. But what fun is that? Draw custom routes for each rusher, assigning as few or as many defenders as you want, balancing an aggressive rush against the formation and game situation to maximize results. Hike the ball to see the Pressure Probability percentage marking the effectiveness of your decisions as the players execute your strategy—and deliver the result. Have you successfully stopped the offense or driven the opposing team to lose yardage?

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat

Just like in the real world of sports, “Playbook Pass Rush” doesn’t guarantee success. You’ll experience the highs of a game-winning touchdown as well as the lows of a drive-ending interception. You’re rewarded (or crushed) by a score that can get you onto the leaderboard. But you’ll learn and improve, and every time you play is a new opportunity to prove your mettle and join the top scorers.

Learn as you go

Beyond being a great way to pass the time and challenge your strategic thinking, “Playbook Pass Rush” offers valuable insights into the world of NFL coaching and decision-making. It showcases the intricate blend of data and gut feeling that coaches rely on to lead their teams to victory and gives you a window into the world of sports analytics that’s both entertaining and enlightening.

So, what are you waiting for? Dive into the high-stakes world of “Playbook Pass Rush” and see if you have what it takes to outsmart the competition!

Ari Entin

Ari Entin

Ari Entin is principal of AWS sports marketing communications, based in Silicon Valley. He joined Amazon in 2021 from Facebook where he led AI communications and marketing. He has driven integrated media campaigns for top-tier consumer electronics, sports and entertainment, and technology companies for decades.