Two computer models predict who will win the NFL conference championship games

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  • Elo and Cortana have made their picks for the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.
  • Cortana correctly picked 65% of the games this season and Elo was not far behind at 62%.
  • Both models went 4-0 in the divisional round of the playoffs.
  • The computers are backing the home teams this weekend.

The NFL’s conference championship games are here, and Cortana is back to make picks in a head-to-head showdown with Elo.

We looked at two popular systems used to pick NFL games: Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, and Elo, the modelling system used by Nate Silver’s data-journalism site, FiveThirtyEight.

In both cases, the computers are picking outright winners and not against the spread. Each gives a likelihood that a team will win, which in theory could help measure the strength of certain lines.

Cortana had another strong season, correctly picking 65% of the games, while Elo nailed 62% overall. While both struggled in the Wild Card round, they rebounded nicely with both going 4-0 in the divisional round.

Here are the picks for the conference championship games, with each team’s per cent chance of winning in parentheses. Point spreads are for reference, via Vegas Insider as of Friday morning.

NFC Championship Game (3:05 ET on Fox)

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  • Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints (-3) –SAINTS (Elo 64%, Cortana 55%)

AFC Championship Game (6:40 ET on CBS)

  • New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs (-3) –CHIEFS (Elo 61%, Cortana 61%)

Read more about the NFL playoffs:

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