Two computer models predict who will win the NFL Wild Card games

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  • Elo and Cortana have made their picks for the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs.
  • Cortana correctly picked 65% of the games this season and Elo was not far behind at 62%.
  • Both models got better late in the season.
  • Elo and Cortana are split on one Wild Card and say two others are close.

The first round of the NFL playoffs 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. 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, including 10-6 or better in four of the final six weeks. Elo nailed 62% overall and went 33-9 over the final two weeks.

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

Saturday early game (4:35 ET on ESPN/ABC)

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  • Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (-1) –TEXANS (Elo 56%, Cortana 51%)

Saturday late game (8:15 ET on Fox) 083630

  • Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys (-2) –COWBOYS (Elo 54%); SEAHAWKS(Cortana 53%)

Sunday early game (1:05 ET on CBS)

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  • Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5) –RAVENS (Elo 60%, Cortana 51%)

Sunday late game (4:40 ET on NBC)

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  • Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears (-6) –BEARS (Elo 61%, Cortana 69%)

Now check out more NFL coverage:

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