The Microsoft engine that predicts every NFL game is back -- here are its picks for Week 1

The NFL is back, and so too is Microsoft Cortana — the virtual assistant that predicts the winner of every NFL game on Bing.

We first discovered Cortana after its shockingly successful run of predictions at the 2014 World Cup, and we’ve been tracking its foray into American football ever since. Last season, Cortana successfully predicted 63% of the outright winners to every game, down from 67% the year prior.

We’ll be following the progress of the engine all season long, noting how it compares to the Vegas point spread, and to other algorithms, including Nate Silver’s Elo model. While Elo has in the past had a better percentage than Cortana, it also occasionally chickens out and pegs games at 50/50. We prefer Cortana’s fearlessness. Check back to BI’s Sports Page every Wednesday for the predictions.

As always, Cortana only picks the outright winner to each game. It does not make picks against the spread, though we like to include the point spread (in parentheses; courtesy of Vegas Insider) for comparison. You can find Cortana’s predictions by searching “NFL Schedule” on Bing.

As we’ve written in the past, the most interesting games are often the ones in which Vegas and Cortana disagree. This week, that means you should keep an eye on Cincinnati at the Jets, Buffalo at Baltimore, and the Rams at the Niners (or, you know, maybe don’t keep an eye on that last one).

Without further ado, here are Cortana’s Week 1 picks. Enjoy the games!

  • Carolina Panthers (-3) @ Denver Broncos — Panthers 57% chance to win
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) @ Atlanta Falcons — Falcons 58% chance to win
  • Minnesota Vikings (-2) @ Tennessee Titans — Vikings 60% chance to win
  • Cleveland Browns (+4) @ Philadelphia Eagles — Eagles 67% chance to win
  • Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5) @ New York Jets — Jets 53% chance to win
  • Oakland Raiders (+1) @ New Orleans Saints — Saints 58% chance to win
  • San Diego Chargers (+7) @ Kansas City Chiefs — Chiefs 74% chance to win
  • Buffalo Bills (+3) @ Baltimore Ravens — Bills 53% chance to win
  • Chicago Bears (+6) @ Houston Texans — Texans 58% chance to win
  • Green Bay Packers (-5.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars — Packers 55% chance to win
  • Miami Dolphins (+10.5) @ Seattle Seahawks — Seahawks 78% chance to win
  • New York Giants (PK) @ Dallas Cowboys — Cowboys 53% chance to win
  • Detroit Lions (+3.5) @ Indianapolis Colts — Colts 57% chance to win
  • New England Patriots (+6) @ Arizona Cardinals — Cardinals 67% chance to win
  • Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) @ Washington Redskins — Steelers 53% chance to win
  • Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) @ San Francisco 49ers — 49ers 53% chance to win

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