NFL 2017 Week 6 Predictions – Zoltar Likes Underdogs Dolphins, Jets, Lions, and Giants

Zoltar is my NFL football machine learning prediction system. Here are Zoltar’s predictions for week #6 of the 2017 NFL season:

Zoltar:    panthers  by    1  dog =      eagles    Vegas:    panthers  by    3
Zoltar:     packers  by    0  dog =     vikings    Vegas:     packers  by  off
Zoltar:      ravens  by   10  dog =       bears    Vegas:      ravens  by    7
Zoltar:     falcons  by    6  dog =    dolphins    Vegas:     falcons  by   11
Zoltar:      texans  by   11  dog =      browns    Vegas:      texans  by  9.5
Zoltar:    redskins  by   11  dog = fortyniners    Vegas:    redskins  by   10
Zoltar:    patriots  by    4  dog =        jets    Vegas:    patriots  by  9.5
Zoltar:       lions  by    0  dog =      saints    Vegas:      saints  by  4.5
Zoltar:     jaguars  by    2  dog =        rams    Vegas:     jaguars  by  2.5
Zoltar:  buccaneers  by    0  dog =   cardinals    Vegas:  buccaneers  by  2.5
Zoltar:     raiders  by    9  dog =    chargers    Vegas:     raiders  by    3
Zoltar:      chiefs  by    7  dog =    steelers    Vegas:      chiefs  by    4
Zoltar:     broncos  by    6  dog =      giants    Vegas:     broncos  by   10
Zoltar:      titans  by    6  dog =       colts    Vegas:       colts  by  off

Zoltar theoretically suggests betting when the Vegas line is more than 3.0 points different from Zoltar’s prediction. For week #6 Zoltar has five hypothetical suggestions. As in recent weeks, most (four) of the five are on underdogs. It seems like Zoltar-2017 has a bias for underdogs, so I need to give Zoltar a tune-up when I get time.

1. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Dolphins against the Falcons. Vegas believes the Falcons are 11.0 points better than the Dolphins, but Zoltar thinks the Falcons are only 6 points better. So, Zoltar thinks the Falcons will win but not by more than 11.0 points. Therefore, a bet on the Dolphins would pay you if the Dolphins win (by any score), or the Falcons win, but by less than 11 points.

2. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Jets against the Patriots. Vegas has the Patriots as 9.5 favorites but Zoltar thinks the Patriots are only 4 points better. Historically, Zoltar has done very well when picking the Jets as underdogs, and Zoltar has done terribly when picking against the Patriots as favorites. I’ll be interested in how this game plays out.

3. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Lions against the Saints. Vegas has the Saints as favorites by 4.5 points but Zoltar thinks the Saints and Lions are evenly matched.

4. Zoltar recommends the Vegas favorite Raiders against the Chargers. Vegas has the Raiders as just 3.0 points better than the Chargers but Zoltar thinks the Raiders are 9 points better. Zoltar believes that humans are over-emphasizing the Raiders unexpectedly narrow win and the Chargers surprisingly large win last week.

5. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Giants against the Broncos. Vegas believes that the Broncos are a huge 10.0 points better but Zoltar thinks the Broncos are only 6 points better than the Giants.

When I ran Zoltar on a Tuesday morning, the Vegas point spread was “off” for two games: Packers vs. Vikings, and Titans vs. Colts. I’ll update if necessary if either of those games goes “on”.

Update: The Vegas line for the Packers – Vikings game is Packers favored by 3.5 points, so Zoltar recommends the underdog Vikings. The line for Titans vs. Colts is Titans by 8.0 points, so Zoltar does not recommend a bet.


Week #5 was good-news, bad-news — but mostly good-news for Zoltar. Against the Vegas spread, which is what matters most, Zoltar went a nice 3-1. And Zoltar would have been 4-0 if the Buccaneers kicker had been able to make a short field goal against the Patriots. That missed field goal caused a swing of tens of millions of dollars in actual betting.

On the other hand, if only a few plays had been different last week, Zoltar could just as easily been 0-4. For the season, against the Vegas point spread, Zoltar is 13-6 (68% accuracy).

I also track how well Zoltar does when just predicting which team will win. This isn’t really useful except for parlay betting. Zoltar was a poor 8-6 just predicting winners.

For comparison purposes, I track how well Bing and the Vegas line do when just predicting who will win. In week #5, Bing was a mediocre 7-7 and Vegas was 6-8.

For the 2017 season so far, just predicting the winning team, Zoltar is 50-27 (65% accuracy), Bing is 45-32 (58% accuracy), and Vegas is 42-33 (56% accuracy).

My system is named after the Zoltar fortune teller machine

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