The computer models that pick NFL games are on fire — here are the picks for Week 6

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Week 6 of the NFL season is 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. However, each gives a likelihood that a team will win – which, in theory, could help measure the strength of certain lines.

Cortana won the regular-season matchup last year, going 162-78 (68%) overall, and it has gone 111-38 (75%) over the past 10 weeks. (We did not track Week 17 because of the wonky nature of the final week.) Elo was not far behind, going 154-86 (64%) overall.

Cortana is off to a strong start this season, going 40-21-1 the past four weeks. Elo is not far behind at 36-25-1. Both models went 10-5 in Week 5 and 21-9 over the past two weeks.

Here are the picks for Week 6, with each model’s per cent chance of winning in parentheses. Point spreads are just for reference, via Vegas Insider as of Thursday morning.


“Thursday Night Football”

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  • Philadelphia Eagles (-2) at New York Giants –EAGLES (Elo 71%, Cortana 57%)


Sunday afternoon games — early window

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  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-3) –FALCONS (Elo 67%, Cortana 66%)
  • Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5) –BENGALS (Elo 54%, Cortana 53%)
  • Los Angeles Chargers (-1) at Cleveland Browns –CHARGERS (Elo 69%), BROWNS(Cortana 51%)
  • Chicago Bears (-3.5) at Miami Dolphins –DOLPHINS (Elo 54%), BEARS(Cortana 60%)
  • Seattle Seahawks (-3) vs. Oakland Raiders (in London) –SEAHAWKS (Elo 67%, Cortana 70%)
  • Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings (-10) –VIKINGS (Elo 74%, Cortana 78%)
  • Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets (-2.5) –JETS (Elo 67%, Cortana 63%)
  • Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins (-1) –PANTHERS (Elo 55%), REDSKINS(Cortana 61%)
  • Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans (-10) –BILLS (Elo 52%), TEXANS(Cortana 75%)

Sunday afternoon games — late window

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  • Los Angeles Rams (-7) at Denver Broncos –RAMS (Elo 69%, Cortana 72%)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) at Dallas Cowboys –COWBOYS (Elo 53%), JAGS(Cortana 60%)
  • Baltimore Ravens (-3) at Tennessee Titans –TITANS (Elo 53%), RAVENS(Cortana 57%)

“Sunday Night Football”

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  • Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots (-3.5) – PATRIOTS (Elo 54%, Cortana 54%)

“Monday Night Football”

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  • San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers (-9.5) –PACKERS (Elo 66%, Cortana 67%)

Now check out this week’s power rankings.

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NFL POWER RANKINGS: Where all 32 teams stand going into Week 6 »

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