Zoltar is my NFL prediction computer program. It uses a deep neural network and reinforcement learning. Here are Zoltar’s predictions for week #9 of the 2018 NFL season:
Zoltar: fortyniners by 4 dog = raiders Vegas: fortyniners by 3.5 Zoltar: bills by 2 dog = bears Vegas: bears by 1 Zoltar: panthers by 10 dog = buccaneers Vegas: panthers by 6.5 Zoltar: chiefs by 12 dog = browns Vegas: chiefs by 8 Zoltar: dolphins by 6 dog = jets Vegas: dolphins by 3 Zoltar: vikings by 6 dog = lions Vegas: vikings by 5.5 Zoltar: steelers by 0 dog = ravens Vegas: ravens by 3 Zoltar: redskins by 4 dog = falcons Vegas: redskins by 1.5 Zoltar: texans by 0 dog = broncos Vegas: broncos by 2.5 Zoltar: seahawks by 2 dog = chargers Vegas: seahawks by 1.5 Zoltar: rams by 0 dog = saints Vegas: saints by 1 Zoltar: patriots by 10 dog = packers Vegas: patriots by 6.5 Zoltar: cowboys by 3 dog = titans Vegas: cowboys by 6.5
Zoltar theoretically suggests betting when the Vegas line is more than 3.0 points different from Zoltar’s prediction. For week #9 Zoltar has four hypothetical suggestions.
1. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Panthers against the Buccaneers. Zoltar thinks the Panthers are 10 points better than the Buccs but Vegas has the Panthers as favorites by only 6.5 points. Therefore, Zoltar believes the Panthers will cover the spread in betting terminology.
2. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Chiefs against the Browns. Zoltar thinks the Chiefs are 12 points better than the Browns but Vegas has the Chiefs favored only by 8.0 points. I suspect that humans are over-reacting to the Brown firings their head coach yesterday, somehow thinking the Browns will play above their ability for their new coach. We’ll see.
3. Zoltar likes the Vegas favorite Patriots against the Packers. Zoltar thinks the Patriots are 10 points better than the Packers, but Vegas has the Patriots favored by only 6.5 points.
4. Zoltar likes the Vegas underdog Titans against the Cowboys. Zoltar thinks the Cowboys are 3 points better than the Titans but Vegas thinks the Cowboys are 6.5 points better than the Titans. A bet on the Titans will pay off if the Titans win (by any score) or if the Cowboys win by less than 6.5 points (in other words, 6 points or less).
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 are three such games in week #9: Steelers-Ravens, Texans-Broncos, Rams-Saints. 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 fairly well in week #8. Against the Vegas point spread, Zoltar was 3-2. For the season so far, against the Vegas spread Zoltar is 26-15 which is about 63% accuracy.
Just predicting winners, Zoltar was a pretty good 11-3. Vegas also went 11-3 just predicting which team would win. For the season, just predicting which team will win, Zoltar is 86-33 (just above 72% accuracy) and Vegas is 84-33 (just below 72% accuracy).
My system is named after the Zoltar fortune teller machine (left). Some guy created an amazing motorized Zoltar machine he drives for parades (two center photos). Everyone loves Zoltar, even fake Zoltars (right).