The defending Super Bowl champion Eagles (still feels weird to type that in a real, non-ironic sentence) head into the Meadowlands tonight for a divisional scrap against the rival Giants. A year removed from defeating the Patriots in epic fashion for their first-ever Super Bowl victory, the Eagles have looked mortal during the encore, stumbling to a 2-3 record to begin the season. Most recently, Philadelphia lost to Minnesota in a rematch of last year’s NFC title game. Going into the season, many (myself included) expected that game to be a slobber-knocker between two heavyweight playoff contenders. Instead, it looked like a pillow fight between two also-rans.
But before we preview the game, we would be amiss if we did not shout out Vikings defensive lineman Linval Joseph and his epic fat big man touchdown from last week (peep this). After Prince Harry Carson Wentz (for real though) coughed up the ball on a strip-sack, Joseph caught it and rumbled 64 yards for a back-breaking touchdown, earning himself a place atop the leaderboard for this year’s Piesman trophy, the non-real internet award for the best big-man touchdown of the season. After scoring, Joseph also had the comedic timing to don a pair of shades, chilling with his bad self while receiving some well-deserved oxygen on bench and looking like a combination of Shaft and Bane. One bad mother shut-your-mouth, indeed. The shadows betray you, because they belong to Linval Joseph. Mixed metaphors!
Meanwhile, New Jersey police were recently called to the scene after receiving reports of a multi-million dollar Dumpster fire in the Meadowlands, only to arrive at the Giants’ headquarters. The G-Men have followed up on last season’s 3-13 campaign by dropping four of their first five games, collecting L’s like Jay Leno collects cars.
As predicted by both the hive-mind Swarm AI and yours truly, the Panthers edged the Giants last week, although not in the manner predicted. Also as I predicted, OBJ went off, racking up 131 yards and a touchdown on eight catches while also throwing a 57-yard touchdown (!) to running back Saquon Barkley for good measure. After the game, Twitter began to wonder whether Beckham should replace Eli Manning as the team’s quarterback. Despite all of the excitement in this back-and-forth barn-burner, the Panthers broke the Giants’ backs and hearts on a last-second, 63-yard field goal by the dreamy “Insta”-Graham Gano (you heard it here first).
Before the game, OBJ sat down for an interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson while accompanied by the rapper Lil Wayne, during which Beckham generally aired the team’s dirty laundry and asked uncomfortable questions seeking hard truths, such as why the Giants couldn’t throw the ball more than 20 yards downfield, or wouldn’t even try. During the offseason, the Giants delivered a Winn-Dixie grocery bag full of money to Odell in the VIP section, but all that cash has delivered to date is a lone win and drama by the bucketload. OBJ’s tantrums and penchant for sideline pugilism with inanimate objects (having lost a fight with the kicking net) is also contagious, with teammate Sterling Shepard landing several body shots to the team bench and a TKO to a trash can after the Panthers picked off Eli Manning in last week’s game (https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/giants/2018/10/07/new-york-giants-sterling-shepard-temper-tantrum/1560015002/).
As you might expect, these antics set off a firestorm of tut-tutting, pearl-clutching, and finger-wagging among the talking heads in NFL circles. Expect more chastising and hot takes on the value of leadership tonight. Lost amid the collective shaming was Odell’s valid point that Eli Manning is washed, and the Giants should have sent him out to the glue factory to pasture after last year’s disastrous campaign. This is no knock on Eli: the man may well be a Hall of Famer; he has two Super Bowl rings to his name. More importantly, we are all eternally in his debt for sparing us from an even bleaker alternative-universe 2018 where Tahm Brady and the Patriots have not five, but seven Super Bowl victories. Even so, it’s time to close the Book of Eli.
Which brings us to tonight’s game. The collective mediocrity of these two teams makes the outcome hard to predict; it’s the classic resistible-force-meets-movable-object scenario. The Giants are another loss or two away from full-fledged tank mode, while the Eagles are right in the midst of the “race” to the “top” of the mediocre NFC East. A loss would allow New York to drag Philadelphia to the bottom of the division and provide an opening for the Washington Slurs (the Washington Voldemorts? The Team-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named?) or the Cowboys to take control. The NFL is a bucket of crabs. Giants 23, Eagles 21.
To predict the result of this Week 6 match-up, Unanimous A.I. used what’s known as swarm intelligence to forecast the week’s slate. About 35 NFL enthusiasts 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 decision, it triggered a psychological response. They readjusted their decision-making, building toward the consensus you see below. It’s an artificial intelligence produced by human brains working together as a swarm.
As you can see the swarm has low confidence that the Eagles will win. Am I, a single human, to be proved correct? Or will a swarm of 34 NFL football enthusiasts working together be correct when the game’s over tonight?
The Eagles play at the Giants at 8:20 p.m. Eastern Thursday on Fox.
Unanimous A.I. has made some scarily accurate predictions in the past using swarm intelligence, as our this article explains. For instance, the swarm picked this year’s Oscar winners with 94 percent accuracy. Here’s Unanimous A.I. founder Louis Rosenberg explaining swarm intelligence at a recent TEDx Talk: