The Seattle Seahawks’ Real Twelfth Man? Amazon Web Services

November 25, 2019, 6:00 PM UTC

It’s a safe bet the Seattle Seahawks will be in the NFL playoffs this year. With a 9-2 record, the team is just one game out of first place in the NFC West.

A lot of that is due to quarterback Russell Wilson, who’s a contender for this year’s NFL MVP. And the defensive line can take some credit, too. But increasingly, the star of the team has reportedly been Amazon’s Web Services division.

The Seattle Times reports that the team has signed a five-year contract with Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing division, to gather and analyze everything from data to media assets in an effort to use big data to boost the Seahawks’ performance. Think of it as the Moneyball-ing of professional football.

The partnership hasn’t played a notable role this season, but Chip Suttles, the team’s vice president of technology, tells the Times he expects coaches to use machine learning and computer vision to augment the information gathered from traditional statistics. (The Seahawks previously relied on Microsoft’s Azure to help run the teams’ IT system.)

Amazon has been working with the NFL for the past four years in a program called Next Gen Stats that collects data from sensors around stadiums and in player shoulder pads. From there, teams can add their own data sets to tailor the analysis to their own needs. The Seahawks deal is separate from that and seemingly represents one of the biggest bets by a team on cloud computing and big data in the league.

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