Zoltar is my NFL prediction computer program. Here are Zoltar’s predictions for week 15 of the 2016 NFL season:
Zoltar: seahawks by 10 dog = rams Vegas: seahawks by 14 Zoltar: dolphins by 0 dog = jets Vegas: dolphins by 2.5 Zoltar: steelers by 0 dog = bengals Vegas: steelers by 3.5 Zoltar: chiefs by 11 dog = titans Vegas: chiefs by 5.5 Zoltar: bills by 15 dog = browns Vegas: bills by 10 Zoltar: packers by 4 dog = bears Vegas: packers by 6.5 Zoltar: vikings by 6 dog = colts Vegas: vikings by 4 Zoltar: texans by 11 dog = jaguars Vegas: texans by 5.5 Zoltar: giants by 1 dog = lions Vegas: giants by 4.5 Zoltar: ravens by 6 dog = eagles Vegas: ravens by 6 Zoltar: falcons by 15 dog = fortyniners Vegas: falcons by 13.5 Zoltar: cardinals by 6 dog = saints Vegas: cardinals by 2.5 Zoltar: raiders by 4 dog = chargers Vegas: raiders by 3 Zoltar: patriots by 0 dog = broncos Vegas: patriots by 3 Zoltar: cowboys by 6 dog = buccaneers Vegas: cowboys by 7 Zoltar: redskins by 1 dog = panthers Vegas: redskins by 4.5
Zoltar theoretically suggests betting when the Vegas line is more than 3.0 points different from Zoltar’s prediction. For week 15 Zoltar has 8 suggestions.
1. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Rams against the Seahawks. Zoltar thinks the Seahawks are 10.0 points better than the Rams but Vegas says the Seahawks will win by 14.0 points.
2. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Bengals against the Steelers. Zoltar thinks the two teams are evenly matched but Vegas says the Steelers will win by 3.5 points.
3. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Chiefs against the Titans. Zoltar thinks the Chiefs will win by 11.0 points but Vegas says the Chiefs will win by only 5.5 points.
4. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Bills against the Browns. Zoltar thinks the Bills will win by 15.0 points but Vegas says the Bills will win by “only” 10.0 points.
5. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Texans against the Jaguars. Zoltar thinks the Texans will win by 11.0 points but Vegas says the Texans will win by only 5.5 points.
6. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Lions against the Giants. Zoltar thinks the Giants are just 1.0 point better than the Lions but Vegas says the Giants will win by 4.5 points.
7. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Cardinals against the Saints. Zoltar thinks the Cardinals are 6.0 points better than the Saints but Vegas says the Cardinals will win by only 2.5 points.
8. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Panthers against the Redskins. Zoltar thinks the Redskins are just 1.0 point better than the Panthers but Vegas says the Redskins will win by 4.5 points.
In week 14, Zoltar went a good 5-2 against the Vegas point spread.
For the season so far, Zoltar is 34-20 against the Vegas spread, for 63% 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 14, just predicting winners, Zoltar was a so-so 11-5. Cortana/Bing was a very good 13-3 for the week.
For the season, just predicting winners, Zoltar is 140-66 (68% accuracy). Cortana/Bing is 128-78 (62% accuracy). There have been two ties this season, 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).
In week 15, this strategy didn’t work too well. There were five games where Zoltar thought the two teams were even. Of these five, the team with the better home-vs-away record won only twice.
1969 “Computer Football Game” from Electronic Data Controls Co.