NFL 2022 Week 21 (Conference Championships) Predictions – Zoltar Likes the 49ers More Than Las Vegas Does

Zoltar is my NFL football prediction computer program. It uses reinforcement learning and a neural network. Here are Zoltar’s predictions for week #21 (conference championship games) of the 2022 season.

Zoltar: fortyniners  by    0  dog =      eagles    Vegas:      eagles  by  2.5
Zoltar:      chiefs  by    4  dog =     bengals    Vegas:      chiefs  by  2.5

Zoltar theoretically suggests betting when the Vegas line is “significantly” different from Zoltar’s prediction. For this season I’ve been using a threshold of 4 points difference but in some previous seasons I used 3 points.

For week #21 Zoltar agrees closely with the Las Vegas point spread. The largest difference of opinion is that Zoltar thinks that the 49ers vs. Eagles game is a toss-up, while Las Vegas has the Eagles as 2-point favorites.

Because Zoltar’s two predictions are within 4 points of the Vegas point spread, Zoltar has no advice.

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.

In week #20, against the Vegas point spread, Zoltar went 0-0 using 4.0 points as the advice threshold because Zoltar’s four predictions all agreed closely with Vegas predictions (just like this week).

For the season, against the spread, Zoltar is 57-31 (~64% accuracy).

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. In week #20, just predicting the winning team, Zoltar went 3-1 which is about average. Vegas was also 3-1 at just predicting the winning team. Both Zoltar and Vegas figured that the Bills would beat the Bengals, but the Bengals won rather convincingly by a score of 27-10.

My prediction system is named after the Zoltar fortune teller machine you can find in arcades. I am not embarrassed to admit that I like old animated cartoons that are aimed at an adult audience as well as children.

Left: This is a scene from “Snoopy Come Home” (1972). Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty consult a fortune teller.

Center: A scene from an “Ounce of Pink” (1965). The Pink Panther comes across an annoying talking fortune teller machine that convinces Panther to take him home.

Right: A scene from “The Weather Lady” (1963) episode of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show. The citizens of Frostbite Falls buy a fortune teller to predict the weather. The machine is stolen by Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale.

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