Bing Predicts Consistent in NFL Divisional Playoffs, Things Look Hazy for Conference Championships
For the second consecutive week, Bing Predicts correctly picked 3 of 4 NFL playoff winners, missing only the Colts-Broncos matchup. Heading into the Conference Championship games, Bing is now 6-2 during the playoffs after going 169-87 during the regular season.
Bing Predicts Divisional Playoffs Recap
Bing headed into Divisional Weekend with quite a bit of confidence, citing odds of over 70% in three of the four games. Of course, none of the picks were really surprises. In all four games, Bing went with the home team. Based on the regular season results, there's no reason it should have done anything differently.
In Bing's only loss, the search engine gave the Broncos a 73% chance of beating the Colts in Denver. Statistically speaking, there's no reason it should have predicted the game any other way. The Broncos beat the Colts in their only game against each other this season. Denver finished the regular season undefeated at home, and the Colts were 0-4 against teams that won their division. In other words, the chances of the Colts winning looked very, very slim. Slim on paper, that is. But NFL playoff games aren't played on paper, and the Colts took advantage of the supposed 27% chance they had of winning the game.
Of course, the weekend wasn't without controversy. Just as Bing seemed the beneficiary in the Wildcard Weekend game between the Lions and the Cowboys, the search engine once again benefited from a late reversal in the Cowboys-Packers game. With the chance to go ahead late in the fourth quarter—and clinch victory—the Cowboys came oh-so-close. Dez Bryant's miraculous fourth-down grab was ruled a catch—and then overturned based on the infamous "complete the process" rule. Some say the Cowboys got a taste of their own medicine, but the bottom line is the Packers won and Bing got this one right. At least Cowboys coach Jason Garrett didn't blame the loss on the officiating.
Maybe Bing should come up with a new prediction: the odds that the referees will have a major impact on the outcome of the game.
Bing Predicts Conference Championship Preview
So far, the Divisional Weekend games have had no bearing on Bing's prediction of a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl showdown. The search engine has been hinting at this matchup for over a month now (although it did briefly give the Seahawks a shot).
It's somewhat surprising that Bing is going with the Packers over the Seahawks—even if the chance of a Green Bay victory is only 53.3% according to the prediction engine. The Seahawks routed the Packers in Seattle to open the season. The Packers are only 4-4 on the road while Seattle is 7-1 at home. Truthfully, this prediction defies the odds, especially coming from a prediction algorithm that seems to default to home field advantage. Is this another sign of Bing's use of social signals to make predictions? Or is Bing just deciding to roll the dice on this one?
Although Bing is still siding with the Patriots to win the AFC Championship game, the predicted chance is shockingly low. Heading into last week's games, Bing was looking ahead with the Patriots as a 75% favorite to beat the Broncos. Now that Indy is in and Denver is out, the search engine is only giving the Patriots a 56.6% chance. Does Bing think Andrew Luck and the Colts have that much more of a chance against the Patriots than Peyton Manning and the Broncos? Or has something else changed? Either way, it should be a good weekend of football.
During the regular season, Bing was only 46-45 when the predicted chances were below 60%. Breaking things down even further, the search engine was 5-8 when picking with a chance of exactly 56.6% and 5-4 when picking with a chance of exactly 53.3%. Looking ahead to the Super Bowl, Bing has the Patriots winning with a 51.5% chance. The search engine was 0-5 during the regular season when picking with such odds.
In other words, the chances of Bing winning out are not good. The search engine has a 51% chance of going 1-1 this weekend, a 28% chance of going 0-2, and only a 21% chance of going 2-0.
Will Bing pull it off? Will we see a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl? The odds are not with Bing, but anything could happen.
Update: On Tuesday morning, Bing changed its pick in the Seahawks-Packers game. The search engine is now giving the Seahawks a 58.9% edge. The change makes sense given all the factors at play here (the Seahawks are almost unbeatable at home, Aaron Rodgers is nursing a strained calf, etc.). But don't start celebrating the Seattle victory yet. During the regular season, Bing was a dismal 7-12 when changing its mind.
Bing is still picking the Patriots to win the Super Bowl with a 51.5% chance. Apparently it just doesn't matter who New England plays. The odds are going to be slightly in their favor.
Was Bing wise to change its pick? We'll find out this weekend.