Zoltar is my NFL prediction computer program. Here are Zoltar’s predictions for week 13 of the 2016 NFL season:
Zoltar: cowboys by 0 dog = vikings Vegas: cowboys by 3.5 Zoltar: bears by 6 dog = fortyniners Vegas: bears by 2.5 Zoltar: packers by 2 dog = texans Vegas: packers by 6 Zoltar: dolphins by 0 dog = ravens Vegas: ravens by 3.5 Zoltar: broncos by 9 dog = jaguars Vegas: broncos by 5 Zoltar: chiefs by 0 dog = falcons Vegas: falcons by 3.5 Zoltar: patriots by 11 dog = rams Vegas: patriots by 13.5 Zoltar: bengals by 6 dog = eagles Vegas: eagles by 2 Zoltar: lions by 0 dog = saints Vegas: saints by 5 Zoltar: raiders by 6 dog = bills Vegas: raiders by 3 Zoltar: buccaneers by 0 dog = chargers Vegas: chargers by 4 Zoltar: steelers by 4 dog = giants Vegas: steelers by 6 Zoltar: cardinals by 2 dog = redskins Vegas: cardinals by 2.5 Zoltar: seahawks by 5 dog = panthers Vegas: seahawks by 7 Zoltar: colts by 0 dog = jets Vegas: colts by 1
Zoltar theoretically suggests betting when the Vegas line is more than 3.0 points different from Zoltar’s prediction. For week 13 Zoltar has nine suggestions, which is the most suggestions he’s had for a week in the last five years
1. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Vikings against the Cowboys. Zoltar thinks the teams are evenly matched by Vegas has the Cowboys winning by 3.5 points.
2. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Bears against the 49ers. Zoltar thinks the Bears are 6.0 points better than the 49ers but Vegas has the Bears wining by only 2.5 points.
3. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Texans against the Packers. Zoltar thinks the Packers are only 2.0 points better than the Texans but Vegas has the Packers as a 6.0 point favorite.
4. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Dolphins against the Ravens. Zoltar thinks the two teams are evenly matched but Vegas has the Ravens to win by 3.5 points.
5. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Broncos against the Jaguars. Zoltar thinks the Broncos are 9.0 points better than the Jaguars but Vegas says the Broncos will win only by 5.0 points.
6. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Chiefs against the Falcons. Zoltar thinks the teams are evenly matched but Vegas says the Falcons will win by 3.5 points.
7. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Bengals against the Eagles. Zoltar thinks the Bengals are 6.0 points better than the Eagles but Vegas says the Eagles will win by 2.0 points.
8. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Lions against the Saints. Zoltar says the two teams are evenly matched but Vegas says the Saints will win by 5.0 points.
9. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Buccaneers against the Chargers. Zoltar thinks the two teams are evenly matched but Vegas says the Chargers will win by 4.0 points.
In week 12, Zoltar went a poor 1-2 against the Vegas point spread. Note: on my original predictions I had some bad data and so I didn’t count two games. Also, I have a super-secret version of Zoltar that correctly figured the Seahawks would lose to the Bills because the Seahawks starting Strong Safety was out due to injury but I didn’t count this — Zoltar believes that there are three positions that have an enormous 6.0 point effect.
For the season so far, Zoltar is 22-16 against the Vegas spread, for 58% accuracy. Historically, Zoltar is usually between 62% and 72% accuracy against the Vegas spread over the course of an entire season.
Theoretically, if you must bet $110 to win $100 (typical) then you’ll make money if you predict at 53% accuracy or better. But realistically, you need to predict at 60% accuracy or better.
Just for fun, I track how well Zoltar and Cortana/Bing Predictions do when just trying to predict just which team will win a game. This isn’t useful except for parlay betting.
In week 12, just predicting winners, Zoltar was 10-6. Cortana/Bing was a very good 12-4 for the week.
For the season, just predicting winners, Zoltar is 114-61 (65% accuracy). Cortana/Bing is 103-72 (59% accuracy). There have been two ties, which I don’t include.
Note: Zoltar sometimes predicts a 0-point margin of victory. In those situations, to pick a winner so I can compare against Cortana/Bing, in the first four weeks of the season, Zoltar picks the home team to win. After week 4, Zoltar uses historical data for the current season (which usually ends up in a prediction that the home team will win).