NFL Week 5 Predictions: A.I. Predicts Cowboys vs. Texans

Heading into this week’s Battle of Texas, there’s not a ton to write home about for either team.

by T.E. Andrews
p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 18.0px Georgia} Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

Don’t look now, but the Cowboys (winners of last week’s Relevance Bowl against the Lions, correctly predicted by yours truly) have quietly crept back up to .500, good for a tie for second-place with the Eagles in the mediocre NFC East. Can’t keep America’s Team down forever, y’all.

Meanwhile, Houston finally managed to log an entry in the win column after being gifted a victory during surviving a grueling overtime war of attrition with the Colts last week. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck threw an incompletion on fourth down in overtime, giving the Texans the ball back with 24 seconds remaining. Deshaun Watson made the most of this unexpected present (the Colts could have just punted and preserved a tie) by slinging a long completion to DeAndre Hopkins, allowing Houston to kick the game-winning field goal. What an interminable slog of a game that was.

Heading into this week’s Battle of Texas, there’s not a ton to write home about for either team. At 1-3, Houston really should be 0-3-1. Prior to the Colts’ unexpected generosity, the Texas lost to the Patriots (no shame there), Titans (eh… allowable? I suppose?) and the Giants (shame!).

With J.J. Swat and Jadeveon Clowney (smash!) as anchors, Houston has the better defensive line. One of the interesting subplots for this game will be whether Houston’s D-line and front seven can contain Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. If so, it’s hard to see Dallas winning, as Elliott is pretty much the entire Cowboys offense at this point – to paraphrase the Black Keys, Zeke is the coal that makes the train roll in Big D. Houston has better receivers and in Deshaun Watson, an electric talent who once beat Bama (in the college football playoff championship game, nonetheless).

To predict the result of this Week 5 match-up, Unanimous A.I. used what’s known as swarm intelligence to forecast the week’s slate. About 30 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.

In sum: H-town is at home. Better D-line. Better receivers. Better early 2000s hip-hop scene (Mike Jones? Who?). Texans forever. Texans 27, Cowboys 23. A swarm of NFL experts disagrees with me, though:

The Cowboys play at the Texans at 8:20 p.m. Sunday on NBC.

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:

In related news, Unanimous A.I. recently presented a scientific study of its ability to forecast games in the National Hockey League. In a 200-game, 20-week-long study of its Swarm AI in the NHL, it was able to easily outperform Las Vegas expectations, and its “Pick of the Week” was right 85 percent of the time, producing a 170 percent ROI. The paper, titled “Artificial Swarm Intelligence versus Vegas Betting Markets,” was presented at the at the IEEE Developments in eSystems Engineering Conference (DeSE 2018) this month at Downing College in Cambridge, England. In a press release issued with the study, co-author Gregg Wilcox says the technology can be applied to matters outside sports, too. “While it’s fun to predict sports, we are currently applying the same techniques to a wide variety of other domains, including financial forecasting, business forecasting, and medical diagnosis, all with positive results.”

Want to join the hive mind that picks NFL matches every week? Sign up to participate in future predictions.

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