Falcons vs. Saints Predictions: Winner for Matt Ryan vs. Drew Brees Match-Up

The outcome feels all but decided, but how do a hive-mind of NFL experts see it turning out?

by T.E. Andrews
p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 18.0px Georgia} Mark Smith/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

And now, dessert. The Thanksgiving Day slate of NFL games concludes with this contest between the Falcons and Saints, a worthy digestive aid for those battling tryptophan-induced coma. Last week, the Saints continued their fire-and-brimstone campaign by demolishing the defending Super Bowl champions by a score of 48-7. The game felt like a changing-of-the-guard moment, as the Eagles continued their slide out of the limelight and towards irrelevance, while the Saints continue to shine as one of the very best (if not the best) team(s) in the League. The Saints haven’t lost a game since September and now sit comfortably with a three-game lead atop the NFC South division standings, while the Falcons linger in third place, with a record of 4-6.

By virtually all metrics, both the Falcons and Saints have two top-ten offenses (New Orleans is first in points per game and fourth in yardage, while Atlanta is ninth in points per game and sixth in yardage), so there should be a cornucopia’s worth of points scored in this one. On this past edition of Monday Night Football, Vegas lost its shirt by setting the over/under for the Chiefs-Rams matchup at a measly 64 points. The Rams went on to outscore the Chiefs by a jaw-dropping score of 54-51, punishing the bookies for their failure to dream bigger. Vegas has set the over/under for this game at 60 points, which again feels a tad too low.

The outcome feels all but decided, but the more intriguing subplot will be whether the Falcons can put up enough points to crack the league’s highest over/under line for a second week in a row. Here’s hoping they pull it off. Saints 36, Falcons 27, is my prediction, but how did a swarm of NFL experts working as a hive-mind predict the outcome of this Week 12 matchup?

To predict the result of this Week 12 match-up, Unanimous A.I. used what’s known as swarm intelligence. Some 33 NFL enthusiasts worked together as a hive mind to make their prediction. As you can see in the animation below, each participant controlled a golden magnet and used it to drag the puck toward the result they thought was the most likely outcome. This is where it gets interesting: As a user sees the puck move toward a particular decision, it triggers a psychological response. They might readjust their thinking as the group builds toward a consensus. It’s an artificial intelligence, produced by human brains, working together as a swarm.

Wow. The swarm is nearly unanimous on the outcome of this Thanksgiving Day match-up. When asked to predict the winner, New Orleans: High Confidence was the overwhelming choice.

The Falcons play at the Saints at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Thursday on NBC.

Here’s how Unanimous A.I. has predicted previous NFL games this season.

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:

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

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