Going back to the start of the 2016 season, the Atlanta Falcons are 0-4 against the AFC East and 16-5 against everyone else. Can they finally break that streak — and their three-game losing streak — against the not terrible New York Jets? A hive mind of about 35 NFL fans predict the Falcons will finally get that AFC East win Sunday.
Atlanta’s play against the AFC East has become a waking nightmare. There’s Super Bowl LI, of course, where the Falcons blew a 25-point lead against the New England Patriots, and then there’s the three consecutive losses to the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and New England Patriots, each of which has been its own brand of brutal or unpleasant. The Jets have a chance to make it a clean sweep in New York, and the Falcons can only hope their bad luck is finally about to end.
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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 Louis 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. For instance, the swarm went a perfect 7-0 in its most recommended picks for a recent English Premier League slate.
The hive mind feels good about Atlanta here, to a point. They do get the high confidence pick to win, but the 71 percent collective brainpower behind the pick speaks to a deeper uncertainty from the swarm.
The 4.5-point spread is enough to knock the Falcons down to a low confidence pick, though here at least there’s a bit more certainty, with the slightly improved 75 percent brainpower behind the pick.
The game kicks off 1 p.m. Eastern Sunday on Fox.