Zoltar is my NFL prediction computer program. Here are Zoltar’s predictions for week 14 of the 2016 NFL season:
Zoltar: chiefs by 6 dog = raiders Vegas: chiefs by 3 Zoltar: lions by 10 dog = bears Vegas: lions by 8.5 Zoltar: broncos by 5 dog = titans Vegas: titans by 1 Zoltar: bengals by 9 dog = browns Vegas: bengals by 5.5 Zoltar: vikings by 5 dog = jaguars Vegas: vikings by 3.5 Zoltar: steelers by 0 dog = bills Vegas: steelers by 1.5 Zoltar: colts by 4 dog = texans Vegas: colts by 4.5 Zoltar: panthers by 8 dog = chargers Vegas: panthers by 1 Zoltar: redskins by 0 dog = eagles Vegas: redskins by 1 Zoltar: cardinals by 0 dog = dolphins Vegas: dolphins by 2 Zoltar: jets by 3 dog = fortyniners Vegas: fortyniners by 1 Zoltar: buccaneers by 6 dog = saints Vegas: buccaneers by 2.5 Zoltar: seahawks by 0 dog = packers Vegas: seahawks by 2.5 Zoltar: falcons by 1 dog = rams Vegas: falcons by 6 Zoltar: cowboys by 0 dog = giants Vegas: cowboys by 3 Zoltar: patriots by 11 dog = ravens Vegas: patriots by 6.5
Zoltar theoretically suggests betting when the Vegas line is more than 3.0 points different from Zoltar’s prediction. For week 14 Zoltar has seven suggestions.
1. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Broncos against the Titans. Zoltar thinks the Broncos are 5.0 points better than the Titans but Vegas says the Titans will win by 1.0 point.
2. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Bengals against the Browns. Zoltar thinks the Bengals will win by 9.0 points but Vegas says the Bengals will win by only 5.5 points.
3. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Panthers against the Chargers. Zoltar thinks the Panthers will win by 8.0 points but Vegas says the Bengals will win by only 1.0 points.
4. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Jets against the 49ers. Zoltar thinks the Jets are 3.0 points better than the 49ers but Vegas says the 49ers will win by 1.0 point.
5. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Buccaneers against the Saints. Zoltar thinks the Buccaneers will win by 6.0 points but Vegas says the Buccaneers will win by only 2.5 points.
6. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Rams against the Falcons. Zoltar thinks the Falcons are 1.0 points better than the Rams but Vegas says the Falcons will win by 6.0 points.
7. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Patriots against the Ravens. Zoltar thinks the Patriots will win by 11.0 points but Vegas says the Patriots will win by only 6.5 points. (updated 12-12-16)
In week 13, Zoltar went a very good 7-2 against the Vegas point spread. It was one of his best weeks ever.
For the season so far, Zoltar is 29-18 against the Vegas spread, for just under 62% 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 13, just predicting winners, Zoltar was a perfect 15-0 — Zoltar’s first perfect week in the last five years. Cortana/Bing was a very good 12-3 for the week.
For the season, just predicting winners, Zoltar is 129-61 (68% accuracy). Cortana/Bing is 115-75 (61% 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).
For example, for week 14, in the five games where Zoltar has a 0-point margin of victory, four of the home teams (Bills, Eagles, Dolphins, Packers) are the predicted winners because their home records are better than their opponent’s road record. But the visiting Cowboys are the predicted winners over the home Giants because even though the Giants are 5-1 at home, the Cowboys are 6-0 on the road.