(CORRECTION: We originally listed the Chiefs as 3-0 ATS this season. In fact, they are 2-1 ATS. They were 2.5-point favorites vs. Cowboys and won 17-16. Worth noting the Cowboys are No. 5 on the Intelligence Index entering Week 3.)
The Kansas City Chiefs outsmarted the Philadelphia Eagles 26-16 Thursday night in head coach Andy Reid’s return to his old stomping grounds.
It was a banner night for Reid and his 3-0 Chiefs – and for Cold, Hard Football Facts Insiders.
In fact, you might say a statistical star was born as the Chiefs-Eagles game unfolded exactly as our quick-thinking, hard-hitting new measure of team intelligence and efficiency told us it would.
Here are the Thursday night highlights:
SMART STAT – The Intelligence Index, our newest Insider-only Quality Stat, kicked off Week 3 in grand style after two nearly perfect weeks to start the season. The Chiefs won not because they were the more physically gifted team, but because they were the smarter, more efficient team.
Five of the top six teams in the indicator are now a perfect 2-0 ATS. The Chiefs are No. 1 in the Intelligence Index.
PROP ROYALTY – The King of Props nailed yet another pick for CHFF Insiders. He’s now 7-2 with his prop plays after Michael Vick (-21.5 rush yards) outrushed Alex Smith by 62 yards Thursday night. The King of Props issues four plays each week: one on Thursday, two on Sunday and one more on Monday.
REAL AND SPECTACULAR PICK – The Cold, Hard Football Facts confidently nailed its Kansas City-Philadelphia Real and Spectacular Pick, calling for a straight up win on the road by the 3-point underdog Chiefs.
The statistical star of the show Thursday night, however, was the Intelligence Index.
The Chiefs didn’t win Thursday night because they outmuscled the Eagles. In fact, Philly outgained the Chiefs 431-395 and gashed KC for an awesome 260 yards on the ground. The Chiefs rushed for 147.
Instead, the Chiefs won because they outsmarted the Eagles. They were the smartest, most efficient team in football through two weeks, according to our Intelligence Index. And they were the smarter, more efficient team Thursday night.
Kansas City converted 6 of 18 third downs; the Eagles 3 of 10. Kansas City did not commit a single turnover; the Eagles coughed the ball up five times, including a pick-six. Philly also botched an unnecessary 2-point conversion attempt early in the game, missed a field goal, reached the red zone only once and failed to convert that lone opportunity.
Intelligent teams win games, make money
The Intelligence Index, which we introduced this summer, statistically measures each team’s performance in situational football. Colonel Comey breaks down the indicator each week at CHFF Insider, including a list of where each team ranks No. 1 to No. 32.
It tracks the difference between Bendability, our measure of defensive efficiency, and Scoreability, our measure of offensive efficiency. It tells us which teams excel at situational football and which teams struggle in a simple, easy-to-understand number.
Teams that play more smartly not only win games, they win games against the spread. The top seven teams on the Intelligence Index are a nearly perfect 12-3 ATS right now. The bottom six teams are 2-10 ATS.
The Chiefs top the indicator – the smartest team in football. They’re not only 3-0 in the standings, they’re 2-1 against the spread. Kansas City was a 3-point underdog Thursday night.
Most fans, analysts and oddsmakers look only at a team’s physical skills and potential. And they value these physical skills very highly. The Intelligence Index looks also at a team’s mental merits, which is undervalued ... and even ignored.
The two skill sets often conflict, and that chasm provides incredible opportunity for smart football fans.
The Chiefs-Eagles game provided a perfect example of this phenomenon in action.
An NFL Network panel Thursday did the typical “who has the advantage” segment in their pregame analysis. All three ex-players on the panel gave the Eagles and Michael Vick the advantage at quarterback over Alex Smith and the Chiefs.
We were shocked.
Certainly, Vick is a more exciting, explosive athlete. But he simply did not give Philly an advantage at quarterback, not if you look at both mental and physical attributes.
Vick was just 11-14 as a starting quarterback since the start of the 2011 season, tossing 24 picks over that period. Smith was 22-6-1, tossing a meager 10 INTs in those 29 games.
Clearly, Vick was more likely to make those costly mistakes that so often prove the difference in NFL games. His three turnovers Thursday night were probably the single biggest reason the Eagles lost. His first interception was returned 38 yards for a toucdown by Kansas City's Eric Berry, giving the Chiefs an early 10-0 lead they would never relinquish.
Smith, who dropped back to pass 40 times and ran the ball 10 times, did not suffer a single turnover.
The game, in other words, unfolded largely how the Intelligence Index told us it would.
Each week the Intelligence Index reveals “mental mismatches” – smart, efficient teams squaring off against dumb, inefficient teams. Chiefs-Eagles was one of those games.
More often than not, the smart team emerges victorious, both on the scoreboard and against the spread, no matter the relative physical merits of each team.
Dumb teams are a particularly smart bet. If you go against them. The dumbest teams in football are now 54-114-2 (.324) ATS since the start of the 2010 season.
The Philadelphia Eagles are widely regarded as one of the most talented teams in football. But they're also one of the dumbest. They're a dismal 4-12-1 ATS since the start of the 2012 season because fans habitually look only at their physical skills and not the dumb quality of their actual play.
Don't be fooled into thinking the more exciting team is the better team. It still comes down to execution. And the smart, efficient team almost always outperforms on the scoreboard, and outperforms the market against the spread.