The Algorithm Predicts the NFL Playoffs and SB 53

January 5, 2019 11:38 am Published by

As a fun offseason exercise this season, we are crunching the numbers on the playoff matchups to get an idea of what to expect from the games to prove our theory that fantasy ratings can help predict game winners and winners against the spread.

After correctly predicting the winners of three of the last four Super Bowls, this is our fourth look at the playoff matchups (predicted 8 of 11 playoff winners in 2017-including the Eagles Super Bowl upset).

Specifically, individual offensive player matchup ratings and defense ratings for each team. Although, we are running fantasy football ratings, we are basically saying: “Who
would win if one fantasy team had all the Seattle offense and the Seattle DST and the other had all Patriots and their DST?”

Four years ago, this lead to a prediction that the Patriots would win 28-19 against the Seahawks, after even Vegas called the matchup as close to a dead heat as any Super Bowl in recent history. Actual score: 28-24.

Last season, it predicted the Eagles would win the Super Bowl 25-24.

The approach here takes the QB/RB/WR/WR/TE/DST matchups for each team and totals up the “Weekly” rating produced by the algorithm for each.

Then, the system integrates “Expected” points for each team, telling us what Vegas expects to be the outcome of the game. These values are generated by taking the Vegas “Over/Under” and the point spread and running this formula for each team:

Vegas Expected Points: OU/2+SPREAD/2

Then, we run the algorithm to determine it’s own “Expected Points”.

Instead of using Vegas against the O/U, we tally the Weekly Ratings to give us the team expected to have the highest ratings, then apply the % higher to the O/U Vegas value.
PITvMIA

…this gives us “Algorithm Expected Points Against O/U” and we compare those to the opponent to predict final score and “Algorithm Expected Spread“.

 

Let’s see what the fantasy numbers tell us for the playoffs and leading into the Super Bowl.

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WEEK 18

**Predictions get updated throughout the week as the lines move and if there are any changes to starting lineups. (updated 1/6)

  • Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (-2 /48.5) (Elo — TEXANS 56%, Cortana — TEXANS 51%)
  • Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys (-2.5 /43.5) — COWBOYS(Elo 54%); SEAHAWKS (Cortana 53%)
  • Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (-3)  (Elo — RAVENS 60%, Cortana — RAVENS 51%)
  • Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears (-6.5)  (Elo— BEARS 61%, Cortana— BEARS 69%)

The scores above were produced by the algorithm as predicted “Expected Points” for each team. Breakdowns of each game are below:

W18 RESULTS: 

Split between winners and ATS:

Picking winners: 

FantasyoMatic: 2 out of 4 winners predicted

ELO: 0 out of 4 winners predicted

Cortana: 0 out of 4 winners predicted

Against the Spread: 

Cortana: 4 out of 4 winners predicted

ELO: 3 out of 4 winners predicted

FantasyoMatic: 2 out of 4 winners predicted

 


WEEK 19

**Predictions get updated throughout the week as the lines move and if there are any changes to starting lineups. (updated 1/12)

  • Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs (-5.5) (Elo 66%— CHIEFS, Cortana — CHIEFS 61%)
  • Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (-7)  (Elo 66% — RAMS, Cortana— RAMS 70%)
  • Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots (-4)  (Elo — PATRIOTS 58%, Cortana— PATRIOTS 61%)
  • Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints (-8) (Elo — SAINTS 64%, Cortana — SAINTS 70%)

The scores above were produced by the algorithm as predicted “Expected Points” for each team. Breakdowns of each game are below:

W19 RESULTS: 

Likes the favorites to win, but a couple dogs to cover:

Picking winners: 

FantasyoMatic: 4 out of 4 winners predicted (6 out of 8 in Playoffs)

ELO: 4 out of 4 winners predicted (4 out of 8 in Playoffs)

Cortana: 4 out of 4 winners predicted (4 out of 8 in Playoffs)

Against the Spread: 

FantasyoMatic: 1 out of 4 winners predicted (3 out of 8 in Playoffs)

Cortana: 1 out of 4 winners predicted (5 out of 8 in Playoffs)

ELO: 0 out of 4 winners predicted (3 out of 8 in Playoffs)


WEEK 20

**Predictions get updated throughout the week as the lines move and if there are any changes to starting lineups. (updated 1/20)

  • Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints (-3)  (Elo — SAINTS 64% (NO-4), Cortana— SAINTS 55% (NO-1.5))
  • New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs (-3)  (Elo— CHIEFS 61% (KC-3), Cortana — CHIEFS 61%(KC-3))

The scores above were produced by the algorithm as predicted “Expected Points” for each team. Breakdowns of each game are below:

W20 RESULTS: 

Liked the favorites to win:

Picking winners: 

FantasyoMatic: 0 out of 2 winners predicted (6 out of 10 in Playoffs)

ELO: out of 2 winners predicted (4 out of 10 in Playoffs)

Cortana: out of 2 winners predicted (4 out of 10 in Playoffs)

Against the Spread: 

Cortana: 1 out of 2 winners predicted (6 out of 10 in Playoffs)

FantasyoMatic: 0 out of 2 winners predicted (3 out of 10 in Playoffs)

ELO: 0 out of 2 winners predicted (3 out of 10 in Playoffs)

 


WEEK 21 (Super Bowl)

**Predictions get updated throughout the week as the lines move and if there are any changes to starting lineups. (will be posted 2/3)

  • Los Angeles Rams vs New England Patriots (-2.5) (Elo — PATRIOTS (-1) 53%, Cortana— PATRIOTS(-1.5) 55%)

Liked the favorites to win:

Picking winners: 

FantasyoMatic: 0 out of 1 winner predicted (6 out of 11 in Playoffs)

ELO: 1 out of 1 winner predicted (5 out of 10 in Playoffs)

Cortana: 1 out of  winner predicted (5 out of 11 in Playoffs)

Against the Spread: 

Cortana: 0 out of 1 winner predicted (6 out of 11 in Playoffs)

FantasyoMatic: 0 out of 1 winner predicted (3 out of 11 in Playoffs)

ELO: 0 out of 1 winner predicted (3 out of 11 in Playoffs)


See how fantasyomatic did against FiveThirtyEight.com’s ELO predictions and Microsoft’s Cortana here.