Zoltar is my NFL prediction computer program. Here are Zoltar’s predictions for week 1 of the 2017 NFL season:
Zoltar: patriots by 6 dog = chiefs Vegas: patriots by 9 Zoltar: bills by 6 dog = jets Vegas: bills by 7 Zoltar: falcons by 5 dog = bears Vegas: falcons by 7 Zoltar: ravens by 0 dog = bengals Vegas: bengals by 3 Zoltar: steelers by 6 dog = browns Vegas: steelers by 9 Zoltar: lions by 6 dog = cardinals Vegas: lions by 1 Zoltar: texans by 9 dog = jaguars Vegas: texans by 4.5 Zoltar: dolphins by 5 dog = buccaneers Vegas: buccaneers by 2 Zoltar: raiders by 0 dog = titans Vegas: titans by 1 Zoltar: redskins by 6 dog = eagles Vegas: redskins by 1 Zoltar: colts by 0 dog = rams Vegas: colts by 3 Zoltar: packers by 2 dog = seahawks Vegas: packers by 3 Zoltar: panthers by 0 dog = fortyniners Vegas: panthers by 6 Zoltar: cowboys by 6 dog = giants Vegas: cowboys by 3.5 Zoltar: vikings by 5 dog = saints Vegas: vikings by 3.5 Zoltar: broncos by 6 dog = chargers Vegas: broncos by 3.5
Zoltar theoretically suggests betting when the Vegas line is more than 3.0 points different from Zoltar’s prediction. For week 1 Zoltar has five suggestions. However, week #1 is a lot of guesswork, for both Zoltar and Las Vegas. I rarely bet for real, and almost never in the first three weeks.
1. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Lions against the Cardinals. Zoltar thinks the Lions are 6 points better than the Cardinals but Vegas says the Lions will win only by 1.0 points.
2. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Texans against the Jaguars. Zoltar believes the Texans will win by a whopping 9 points but Vegas thinks the Texans will win by only 4.5 points, so Zoltar thinks the Texans will cover the spread.
3. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Dolphins over the Buccaneers. Zoltar thinks the Dolphins are 5 points better than the Buccaneers, but Vegas says the Buccaneers will win by 2, so Zoltar believes that not only will the Buccaneers not cover the spread, they won’t even win.
4. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Redskins against the Eagles. Zoltar thinks the Redskins are 6 points better than the Eagles but Vegas says the Redskins will win only by 1.0 points.
5. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog San Francisco 49ers against the Carolina Panthers. Zoltar believes the two teams are evenly matched, but Vegas has the Panthers as 6-point favorites, so Zoltar thinks the Panthers may win, but they won’t cover the spread.
Theoretically, if you must bet $110 to win $100 (typical in Vegas) 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 does when just trying to predict just which team will win a game. This isn’t useful except for parlay betting.
Zoltar sometimes predicts a 0-point margin of victory (three of the games in week #1). 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 visiting team to win. After week 4, Zoltar uses historical data for the current season (which usually ends up in a prediction that the visiting team will win).