Zoltar is my NFL prediction computer program. It uses a deep neural network and Reinforcement Learning. Here are Zoltar’s predictions for week #6 of the 2018 NFL season:
Zoltar: eagles by 5 dog = giants Vegas: eagles by 3 Zoltar: falcons by 6 dog = buccaneers Vegas: falcons by 3.5 Zoltar: steelers by 0 dog = bengals Vegas: bengals by 2.5 Zoltar: chargers by 5 dog = browns Vegas: chargers by 1 Zoltar: bills by 0 dog = texans Vegas: texans by 8 Zoltar: dolphins by 2 dog = bears Vegas: bears by 3 Zoltar: vikings by 9 dog = cardinals Vegas: vikings by 10.5 Zoltar: jets by 6 dog = colts Vegas: jets by 2.5 Zoltar: seahawks by 3 dog = raiders Vegas: seahawks by 3 Zoltar: panthers by 1 dog = redskins Vegas: redskins by 1 Zoltar: rams by 5 dog = broncos Vegas: rams by 7 Zoltar: jaguars by 0 dog = cowboys Vegas: jaguars by 3 Zoltar: titans by 2 dog = ravens Vegas: ravens by 3 Zoltar: patriots by 1 dog = chiefs Vegas: patriots by 3.5 Zoltar: packers by 6 dog = fortyniners Vegas: packers by 9.5
Zoltar theoretically suggests betting when the Vegas line is more than 3.0 points different from Zoltar’s prediction. For week #6 Zoltar has six hypothetical suggestions.
1. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Chargers over the Browns. Zoltar thinks the Chargers are 5 points better than the Browns but Vegas has the Chargers favored only by 1.0 points so Zoltar thinks the Chargers will cover the spread (win by 2 points or more; if they win by exactly 1 point the bet is a push).
2. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Bills against the Texans. Zoltar thinks the two teams are evenly matched but Vegas has the Texans as a big 8.0-point favorite. A bet on the Bills will pay if the Bills win outright, or if the Texans win by 7 points or less).
3. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Dolphins against the Bears. Zoltar thinks the Dolphins are 2 points better than the Bears, but Vegas has the Bears favored by 3.0 points.
4. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Jets against the Colts. Zoltar thinks the Jets are 6 points better than the Colts but Vegas thinks the Jets are only 2.5 points better than the Colts.
5. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Titans against the Ravens. Zoltar thinks the Titans are 2 points better than the Ravens, but Vegas thinks the Ravens are 3.0 points better than the Titans.
6. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog 49ers against the Packers. Zoltar thinks the Packers are 6 points better than the 49ers but Vegas has the Packers as 9.5-point favorites. So Zoltar thinks the Packers will win, but by fewer than 10 points.
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 (not by how many points). This isn’t useful except for parlay betting.
Zoltar sometimes predicts a 0-point margin of victory. There three such games in week #6: Steelers-Bengals, Bills-Texans, and Jaguars-Cowboys. 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, but not always, ends up in a prediction that the home team will win).
Zoltar did quite well in week #5. Against the Vegas point spread, Zoltar was 3-1. For the season so far, against the Vegas spread Zoltar is 17-10 which is not quite 63% accuracy.
Just predicting winners, Zoltar was a decent 11-4. Vegas also went 11-4 just predicting which team would win. For the season, Zoltar is 52-24 (68% accuracy) and Vegas is 51-24 (68% accuracy).
My system is named after the Zoltar fortune teller machine you can see in arcades.