The New Orleans Saints have shaken off their early-season defensive woes and look like an increasingly serious contender. The Buffalo Bills are extremely alive for their first playoff berth this millennium. A hive mind of about 40 NFL fans predicts the Saints will win Sunday.

The Saints have at least been good, even championship-worthy, within living memory, though that undersells the turnaround for a team that had gone 7-9 in four of the past five seasons. The Bills have done little to make memories the 18 seasons since their last playoff berth, so let’s just take a moment to appreciate that these two teams come in with 11 combined wins between them and both very much alive to win their divisions, let alone make the playoffs. This also figures to be a fun matchup, even if the Bills do have some stuff to prove after a bad loss last week against the New York Jets.

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From their last meeting in 2013.

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 30 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 swarm is mostly behind New Orleans here, with a lot of the dissent split between picking the Saints with high or low confidence. Ultimately, it’s a low confidence pick with just 76 percent brainpower.

The swarm predicts the Saints will win by four to six points, with 82 percent brainpower behind the pick. The Vegas line favors New Orleans by 2.5 points.

The game kicks off 1 p.m. Eastern Sunday on Fox.


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