The Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots are a combined 21-5 and are by far the class of the AFC this season. Whoever wins this game has the inside track of home field advantage throughout the playoffs. A hive mind of NFL fans predicts the Patriots will win.
This game lost a smidge of luster when the Miami Dolphins beat the Patriots last week in a stunning upset, but no matter: The Patriots would still regain their spot atop the AFC standings with a win here, while a victory for the Steelers would give them a huge lead in the race to the top. Both teams are likely to finish with first round byes, putting them in excellent shape to meet again in the AFC Championship Game — which also happens to be where they last met in January, with the Patriots taking that game en route to their eventual Super Bowl victory. These teams have defined the AFC for most of this century, winning seven Super Bowls between them in that stretch to add to the Steelers’ four 1970s championships. Games don’t get much bigger than this one.
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 an English Premier League slate earlier this season.
The swarm isn’t at all sure on this one, ultimately picking the Patriots with low confidence and just 64 percent brainpower.
The swarm feels a lot more certain that this one will be close, picking the Patriots to win by one to three points with 91 percent brainpower. The Vegas line has New England by three points.
The game kicks off 4:25 p.m. Eastern Sunday on CBS.