NFL 2015 Week 16 Predictions – Zoltar likes Vegas Underdogs Chargers, Texans, Ravens, Rams

I wrote a computer program called Zoltar that predicts the results of NFL football games. Unlike many prediction programs that use classical statistics techniques, Zoltar uses an information-theoretic approach.

Zoltar’s point spread predictions for week 16 of the 2015 NFL season are:

Zoltar favorite =     raiders  by    2  underdog =    chargers
Zoltar favorite =      eagles  by    6  underdog =    redskins
Zoltar favorite =    panthers  by    5  underdog =     falcons
Zoltar favorite =       bills  by    4  underdog =     cowboys
Zoltar favorite =       lions  by    6  underdog = fortyniners
Zoltar favorite =      chiefs  by   15  underdog =      browns
Zoltar favorite =       colts  by    0  underdog =    dolphins
Zoltar favorite =    patriots  by    5  underdog =        jets
Zoltar favorite =      texans  by    5  underdog =      titans
Zoltar favorite =    steelers  by    4  underdog =      ravens
Zoltar favorite =  buccaneers  by    6  underdog =       bears
Zoltar favorite =      saints  by    6  underdog =     jaguars
Zoltar favorite =   cardinals  by    6  underdog =     packers
Zoltar favorite =    seahawks  by   10  underdog =        rams
Zoltar favorite =     vikings  by    6  underdog =      giants
Zoltar favorite =     broncos  by    2  underdog =     bengals

Notice that Zoltar predicts a tie for the Colts vs. Dolphins game. When this happens, just in order to calculate a head-to-head winning percentage, Zoltar predicts the team with the higher internal rating (Zoltar computes ratings for each team) will win.

Zoltar’s predictions are very close to the Las Vegas point spreads, but there are 4 games where Zoltar sees a theoretical betting opportunity:

* Zoltar says the Raiders will beat the Chargers by only 2 points but Vegas says the Raiders will win by 5.5 points so Zoltar would recommend betting on the Vegas underdog Chargers.

* Zoltar says the Texans will beat the Titans by 5 points but Vegas says the Titans will win by 4.5 points so Zoltar would recommend betting on the Vegas underdog Texans. Both team have been hit hard by player injuries so Zoltar think Vegas is overreacting

* Zoltar says the Steelers will win by only 4 points over the Ravens but Vegas say the Steelers will win by 10.5 points so Zoltar would recommend betting on the underdog Ravens. (I saw both teams play last week and The Steelers looked unbeatable and the Ravens looked horrible so Vegas is using the “eye test”.)

* Zoltar says the Seahawks will beat the Rams by just 10 points but Vegas says the Seahawks will crush the Rams by 13.5 points so Zoltar would (barely) recommend betting on the Vegas underdog Rams.


For the season, through week 15, in head-to-head predictions, meaning just predicting the winner of a game (which isn’t particularly useful), Zoltar has gone 164-60 for 73% accuracy. Bing Predictions is 142-82 for 63% accuracy. By the way, if you simply picked the home team to win, you’d only get about 55% accuracy.

Update: Tuesday, 12/29/2015: It was good news and bad news for Zoltar in week 16. On the positive side, Zoltar was a perfect 4-0 against the Vegas point spread. Zoltar picked 4 underdogs (Chargers, Texans, Ravens, Rams). The Raiders didn’t cover the 5.5 spread against the Chargers, and the Texans, Ravens and Rams all won outright. On the downside, in just predicting the winners of games (which isn’t useful except for parlay bets), Zoltar was a weak 10-6 (62.5% correct). Bing Predictions also went 10-6 for the week. In fact, Zoltar and Bing had the exact same winner predictions for all 16 games, something that has never happened before.

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