For the upcoming Super Bowl on Feb. 7, 2016, Zoltar predicts the Carolina Panthers will beat the Denver Broncos by 1 point. Because the Las Vegas betting line has the Panthers favored by 5 points, Zoltar theoretically recommends betting on the underdog Broncos. You’ll win your bet if the Broncos win outright, or if the Panthers win but by 4 points or less.
Predicting the results of NFL football games is a fascinating problem. I wrote a computer program called Zoltar (named after the arcade fortune telling machine) to do just that. Unlike many prediction programs that use classical statistics techniques, Zoltar uses an information-theoretic approach.
For last week’s predictions, Zoltar was correct on both games when predicting just the winner. The Broncos beat the Patriots and the Panthers beat the Cardinals.
Last week against the Vegas point spread, Zoltar was 1-0, correctly advising a bet on the Vegas underdog Broncos (Zoltar did not recommend a bet on the Panthers-Cardinals game).
For the 2015 season, against the Vegas point spread, Zoltar went a pretty decent 56 correct out of 88 for 63% accuracy.
For the 2015 season, through week 20 (third and final round of playoffs before Super Bowl), in head-to-head predictions, meaning just predicting the winner of a game (which isn’t particularly useful except for parlay betting), Zoltar has gone 194-72 for 73% accuracy. I couldn’t find any week 18 or 19 head-to-head predictions for Bing Predictions. For week 20, Bing got one correct (Panthers) and one wrong (Patriots). For the season Bing Predictions is 162-96 for 63% accuracy.
If you just picked the Las Vegas point spread favorite to win each game, for the regular season you’d have gotten about 63% accuracy.
Update, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016: The Broncos beat the Panthers 24-10 in the Super Bowl. For the season, against the Las Vegas point spread, Zoltar was a pretty decent 57 correct and 33 wrong for 63% accuracy. For just predicting the winner of a game, Zoltar was a good 194-73 for 73% accuracy. Bing Predictions finished the season 162-97 for 63% accuracy.