NFC South rivals meet Sunday going in very different directions. The Carolina Panthers are undefeated and look to be rounding into form, while the New Orleans Saints could be on the brink of total collapse. A hive mind of more than 30 NFL fans think this could be the week the Saints go over that edge, as they pick Carolina to win.
The New Orleans Saints have long relied on the explosive, Drew Brees-led offense to bail out a porous defense. While the defense is as bad as ever, the Saints’ offense has been downright moribund by its own past standards, leading to bad losses to the Minnesota Vikings and the New England Patriots. The Carolina Panthers haven’t necessarily looked like the juggernaut that made the Super Bowl two years ago, but they are winning games as star Cam Newton plays his way back from injury.
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To predict the result of this and other games, Unanimous A.I. used what’s known as swarm intelligence to forecast the week’s slate. More than 40 NFL fans worked together as a hive mind to make picks. As you can see in the animation below, each participant controlled a little golden magnet and used it to drag the puck toward the answer they thought was the most likely outcome. As the users saw the puck move toward a particular outcome, it triggers a psychological response. They readjust their decision-making, building toward a consensus. Here’s Unanimous A.I. founder Lloyd Rosenberg explaining swarm intelligence at a recent TEDx Talk.
Unanimous A.I. has made some scarily accurate predictions in the past using swarm intelligence, as our previous article explains.
At a glance, the swarm might not seem super big on the Panthers’ chances, given the relatively low 79 percent brainpower behind a low confidence pick. But when you consider most of the dissenting magnets were pulling toward a high confidence pick for Carolina, the picture changes. The swarm is pretty convinced the Panthers will win, with the main disagreement just being a matter of how certain they are.
It’s a similar situation when picking the game against the spread, though there’s a slightly larger contingent here calling for the Saints to keep it to within less than six points. If nothing else, New Orleans does theoretically still have the tools to make this a close shootout.
The game kicks off 1 p.m. Eastern Sunday on Fox.