The Dallas Cowboys have navigated injuries, an increasingly infamous suspension, and a tricky schedule to a .500 record. The Los Angeles Chargers started 0-4 but have rallied to a respectable 4-6. Both teams need a win to stay in the playoff hunt. A hive mind of NFL fans predicts the Cowboys will win.
Even though Dallas has the better record, they have the much tougher path to a playoff bid, mostly because the NFC has more than a full bracket’s complement of good teams this year. There’s only room for one of the NFC’s three 6-4 teams in the playoffs as it stands, let alone 5-5 Dallas. The Chargers are far from in it, for their part, but an easy schedule coming up, the general terribleness of the AFC, and the fact that their 0-4 start was more bad luck than bad performance all mean they have a surprisingly good shot at becoming only the second team — joining some obscure club called “the San Diego Chargers” — to lose their first four games and make the playoffs.
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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. About 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 hive mind predicts Dallas to win, albeit only with low confidence and 80 percent brainpower.
The swarm sees this one as a squeaker, picking Dallas to win by one to three points. That’s an 83 percent brainpower prediction. The Vegas line currently favors Los Angeles by a point.
The game kicks off 4:30 p.m. Eastern Sunday on CBS.