Yeah, that makes perfect sense - and it did occur to me just after I posted! It's definitely good to have some airflow into the case.They are intakes.
Yes they help air circulation in the case, as they are wider than the GPU, I've got better temps when activated, you can feel the air flow even if they are close to the GPU. I do not make them spining very fast (max 1200), else they get noisy because of restriction.
But No they do not "directly" cool the GPU, they only help circulation from the bottom to the rad. This card has a kind of waterblock all over the PCB so direct air on it do nothing for sure.