As you may have heard by now, the St. Louis Rams announced yesterday that they are offering $100,000 to anybody who correctly forecasts their schedule for next year. We already know who their scheduled opponents are, but in order to win the bounty you need to properly prognosticate who and where they will play each week, the date of their bye, and which day each of their games falls on.
What are the odds of that?
Noting that there are only byes from Week 4 through Week 12, if we work backwards, the chance of getting Week 17 right is 1/6 — we know they’ll play a division opponent. Then, the chance of getting Week 16 right, after assuming we’ve gotten Week 17 correct, is 1 in 15.
Keep replicating that methodology all the way back and we’re looking at about a .000000000000014% chance ( or 1.4 x 10^-14) at just getting the weeks of the games right. Putting that in word form, that’s about 1.4 in 100 Trillion chance, or a 1 in 71 Trillion chance of nailing all matchups, without guessing when the Rams will play on Monday and Thursday.
(Note for those that care: The odds first calculated the chances of getting weeks 17 to 13 right, starting with division games in week 17, then other non-bye weeks. That’s why it skips to weeks 3 to 1, before returning to the bye week possibilities, in the denominator).
We also have to account for whether games are scheduled on Thursdays or Mondays occasionally as well. Yeah, most games will be on Sunday, but the odds of getting all those right and nailing the primetime games on other days, too, brings us to worse than 1 in 10 quadrillion.
For comparison’s sake, take the odds of Powerball, where the odds of winning Wednesday’s $110 million jackpot are 1 in 175,223,510 (the Rams contest is more than 50 million times tougher once you have to also guess the day of each game). Sure, there’s a $2 cost, but would you rather part with that sum of money, or provide the Rams with your contact information?
So, this is pretty similar to the Warren Buffett NCAA Tournament bracket, where you’ll later get spammed in return for little more than an illusion of a payday. One major difference, however, is that NFL scheduling does not come down to the bounce of a ball after the contest closes; whereas no one really knows for sure who is going to win any given matchup, there is a group of people who have knowledge of the NFL schedule before it is released.
If somebody wins this Rams contest, with massive odds that make Powerball look like a safe investment, it would almost certainly be the result of a leak out of the league office or a hack by someone now motivated by a six figure payout. All told, that would be pretty hilarious.