Predicting NFL football games is a really fascinating problem. I wrote a program called Zoltar that does just that. For the season, Zoltar is 68% accurate against the Vegas point spread. When picking only the winner of a game, Zoltar is currently 117 correct and 43 wrong = 73% accuracy. Microsoft Bing is 101 correct and 59 wrong = 63% accurate.
Zoltar’s point spread predictions for week 12 of the 2015 NFL season are:
Zoltar favorite = lions by 4 underdog = eagles Zoltar favorite = panthers by 3 underdog = cowboys Zoltar favorite = packers by 11 underdog = bears Zoltar favorite = falcons by 0 underdog = vikings Zoltar favorite = bengals by 11 underdog = rams Zoltar favorite = colts by 6 underdog = buccaneers Zoltar favorite = texans by 6 underdog = saints Zoltar favorite = jaguars by 0 underdog = chargers Zoltar favorite = chiefs by 5 underdog = bills Zoltar favorite = jets by 0 underdog = dolphins Zoltar favorite = titans by 0 underdog = raiders Zoltar favorite = redskins by 0 underdog = giants Zoltar favorite = cardinals by 5 underdog = fortyniners Zoltar favorite = seahawks by 2 underdog = steelers Zoltar favorite = broncos by 0 underdog = patriots Zoltar favorite = ravens by 1 underdog = browns
Notice that six 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 predictions are close to the Las Vegas point spreads, but there are four games where Zoltar sees a theoretical opportunity:
* Zoltar says the Lions will win by 4 over the Eagles but Vegas says the Eagles are favored by 1 so Zoltar recommends betting on the Vegas underdog Lions.
* Zoltar says the Jaguars and Chargers are evenly matched but Vegas says the Jaguars will win by 4 so Zoltar recommends betting on the Vegas underdog Chargers.
* Zoltar says the Cardinals will win by 5 over the 49ers but Vegas says the Cardinals will win by 10, so Zoltar recommends betting on the Vegas underdog 49ers.
* Zoltar says the Ravens will win by 1 over the Browns but Vegas says the Browns will win by 2.5, so Zoltar recommends betting on the Vegas underdog Ravens. (There’s a key injury to the Ravens quarterback that Zoltar discounts).
Update Tuesday, 12/01/2015: In week 12, Zoltar went 4-0 against the Vegas point spread (Lions beat the Eagles 45-10; Chargers beat the Jaguars 31-25; Cardinals beat the 49ers but only by 6 points, 19-13; Ravens beat the Browns 33-27 on a fluke play).
In just head-to-head (meaning only predicting the winner, which isn’t very useful), Zoltar went a very good 12-4.