Predicting NFL football games is a really fascinating problem. I wrote a program called Zoltar. Zoltar stands for Zero Order Logistic Transform Associative Resolver.
Not really. Zoltar is actually named after the arcade fortune telling machine.
When picking only the winner of a game, Zoltar is currently 108 correct and 38 wrong = 74% accuracy. Microsoft Bing is 93 correct and 53 wrong = 64% accuracy.
Zoltar’s point spread predictions for week 11 of the 2015 NFL season are:
Zoltar favorite = jaguars by 6 underdog = titans Zoltar favorite = falcons by 0 underdog = colts Zoltar favorite = panthers by 11 underdog = redskins Zoltar favorite = broncos by 5 underdog = bears Zoltar favorite = lions by 6 underdog = raiders Zoltar favorite = texans by 6 underdog = jets Zoltar favorite = dolphins by 2 underdog = cowboys Zoltar favorite = eagles by 6 underdog = buccaneers Zoltar favorite = ravens by 4 underdog = rams Zoltar favorite = chargers by 0 underdog = chiefs Zoltar favorite = vikings by 0 underdog = packers Zoltar favorite = seahawks by 6 underdog = fortyniners Zoltar favorite = cardinals by 2 underdog = bengals Zoltar favorite = patriots by 10 underdog = bills
Notice that three of the predictions are a tie game. When this happens, just in order to calculate a head-to-head winning percentage, Zoltar predicts the home team will win.
Zoltar’s week 11 predictions agree much less closely with the Las Vegas betting line than in most weeks. There are 7 games with a significant difference in prediction which lead to betting recommendations (theoretical only!)
* Zoltar says the Jaguars will win by 6 over the Titans but Vegas says Jaguars will win by only 2.5 so Zoltar recommends betting on the Vegas favorite Jaguars.
* Zoltar says the Falcons and the Colts are evenly matched but Vegas says the Falcons will win by 6 so Zoltar recommends betting on the Vegas underdog Colts.
* Zoltar says the Panthers will win by 11 over the Redskins but Vegas says the Panthers will win only by 7, so Zoltar recommends betting on the Vegas favorite Panthers.
* Zoltar says the Broncos will win by 5 over the Bears but Vegas says the Broncos will win by only 1, so Zoltar recommends betting on the Vegas favorite Broncos.
* Zoltar says the Lions will win by 6 over the Raiders but Vegas says the Raiders will win by 2, so Zoltar recommends betting on the Vegas underdog Lions.
* Zoltar says the Texans will win by 6 over the Jets but Vegas says the Jets will win by 2.5, so Zoltar recommends betting on the Vegas underdog Texans.
* Zoltar says the Seahawks will win by 6 over the 49ers but Vegas says the Seahawks will win by 12, so Zoltar recommends betting on the Vegas underdog 49ers.
Zoltar seems to have very little love for the Seattle Seahawks in 2015.
Update on Tuesday, 11-24-2015 – Zoltar went 6-1 against the Las Vegas point spread in Week 11. The results for the games where Zoltar made a recommendation were:
Jaguars 19 - Titans 13 (Zoltar recommendation correct) Colts 24 - Atlanta 21 (Zoltar recommendation correct) Panthers 44 - Redskins 16 (Zoltar recommendation correct) Broncos 17 - Bears 15 (Zoltar recommendation correct) Lions 18 - Raiders 13 (Zoltar recommendation correct) Texans 24 - Jets 17 (Zoltar recommendation correct) Seahawks 29 - 49ers 13 (Zoltar recommendation wrong)
In just head-to-head (meaning only picking the winner), Zoltar went a mediocre 9-5. Bing went 8-6. For the year, Zoltar is 117-43 (73% accuracy) and Bing is 101-59 (63% accuracy).