NFL Bettors Can Bank On Intelligence Index

Russell Wilson

This year at Cold, Hard Football Facts Insider we're focusing on the Intelligence Index, which highlights the league's most and least efficient football teams. Essentially, it quantifies those teams that do all the little things right and excel in situational football – and those teams that consistently make bone-head mistakes in critical situations...

Physical skills in the NFL are valued most highly, and for good reason – you need great athletes to win games, and great coaching to boot.

But there's one thing that sinks a team, and a bettor, quicker than a concrete-shoed mobster in the Hudson River.

Being dumb.

This year at Cold, Hard Football Facts Insider we're focusing on the Intelligence Index, which highlights the league's most and least efficient football teams. Essentially, it quantifies those teams that do all the little things right and excel in situational football – and those teams that consistently make bone-head mistakes in critical situations.

The good news for the CHFF Insider is that being very good or very bad on the index relates directly to wins on the field – and against the spread.

The better news is that these teams establish their patterns of relative intelligence early, and once you recognize them you're looking at massive success against the number.

How massive?  

Since 2010, the teams with a final score of -5.0 or worse on the Intelligence Index were 52-106-2 (.331) against the spread.

HOW WE ARRIVE AT THE INDEX

You still hear an awful lot on NFL broadcasts about total yardage stats, even though they are some of the least important numbers in the game. 

But that's OK, let the suckers enjoy their feast.

Smart soldiers know nothing is more important than actually scoring of points. And the teams that are most efficient in turning yards into points – and preventing the opposition from doing so – are annually among the league's best.

We first outlined the concept of the Intelligence Index this summer in our look at the NFL's dumbest teams. The Intelligence Index takes a team's Bendability Index (points allowed/yards allowed) and subtracts its Scoreability Index (points allowed/yards allowed) to show which teams are most efficient.

Simple? Yes.

And that's a good thing.

The beauty of the dumbest teams on the list is that they lure bettors in with big plays and "good stats" while consistently failing to convert those yards into points. As a result, they fail to cover week after week after week.

Think of the 2012 Eagles: everyone marveled at their skill, but ignored their utter lack of team intelligence. As a result, this poorly coached, mistake-prone team was consistently overvalued by the Pigskin Public.

Philly was No. 31 on the Intelligence Index, ahead of only the lowly Chiefs, and went an NFL worst 3-12-1 ATS.

THE 2012 EVIDENCE: OVERWHELMING

Week 1 of last season provided a great example of the Intelligence Index spotlighting the league's worst bets. Teams that finish the season at -5.0 on the Index or worse are huge money makers – betting against them.

The Chiefs (No. 32) outgained the Falcons ... and got blown the hell out, 40-24. Philly (No. 31) doubled up the Browns in yards, 456-210, and won by a single point. The Raiders (No. 30) outgained the Chargers 321-258 and lost 22-14. And the Lions (No. 29) outgained the Rams 429-250 and won by just four points.

Bettors, thinking that the points would catch up to the yards, kept the lines closer than they should have been, and these four teams continued to tank in Vegas (and on the field).

In the end, those four teams at the bottom of the Intelligence Index were also the four teams with the worst record vs. the spread in the league – 19-44-1 (.305)! Jacksonville (-5.07) went 7-9.

In 2011, the four teams at -.5.0 or worse went 22-41-1 (.352) vs. the spread. In 2010, only Carolina was worse, and they went 4-12 vs. the number.

Three years, 10 teams, a total of 52-106-2 (.331) against the spread. We don't need to tell you that's an amazing number, and one that you need to keep an eye on all year.

Hail to the stupid!

OH, AND AS FOR THE SMART GUYS

Team at +5.0 or better on the Intelligence Index also fare very well against the spread. Seattle (league-best 11-5 vs. the spread in 2012) was also No. 1 on the Intelligence Index at +6.38, followed by New England (9-7) and Atlanta (9-6-1).

Over the three years, the nine teams at +5.0 or better were all over .500 vs. the spread for a total of 90-51-3 (.625) – not half-bad either.

Unfortunately, the smart teams aren't as easy to spot early on. And the numbers for the smart teams aren't as overwhelming as they are for the dumb teams. But they're still big money makers.

We'll be tracking all the Intelligence trends week to week, and spotlighting Intelligence mismatches that come down the pipe for your betting pleasure.

THE 2012 INTELLIGENCE INDEX

A look at every NFL team in 2012, ranked smartest to dumbest, based upon team-wide performance in situational football.

Rank

TEAM

BEND

SCORE

INTEL INDEX

vs. SPREAD

1

Seattle

20.0

13.62

+6.38

11-5

2

New England

18.04

12.29

+5.75

9-7

3

Atlanta

19.56

14.1

+5.46

9-6-1-

4

Chicago

18.23

13.25

+4.98

7-9

5

N.Y. Giants

17.83

13.26

+4.57

7-8-1

6

Denver

16.1

13.23

+2.87

10-5-1

7

Green Bay

16.04

13.28

+2.76

9-7

8

San Francisco

17.25

14.58

+2.67

9-7

9

Cincinnati

15.98

13.61

+2.37

9-6-1

10

Baltimore

16.32

14.17

+2.15

6-9-1

11

Minnesota

16.09

14.21

+1.88

8-7-1

12

Washington

15.57

14.06

+1.51

11-5

13

San Diego

14.92

13.59

+1.33

97-9

14

Houston

15.63

14.31

+1.32

9-7

15

New Orleans

15.51

14.26

+1.25

8-8

16

Miami

18.01

17.31

+0.7

8-8

17

Tampa Bay

15.43

14.96

+0.47

9-5-2

18

Indianapolis

15.47

16.24

-0.77

11-5

19

Cleveland

15.82

16.65

-0.83

8-7-1

20

Carolina

14.68

16.17

-1.45

9-7

21

Arizona

15.14

16.84

-1.7

7-8-1

22

Dallas

14.22

15.94

-1.72

6-10

23

Pittsburgh

14.05

15.85

-1.8

6-9-1

24

St. Louis

15.75

17.61

-1.86

11-5

25

Tennessee

12.74

15.18

-2.44

6-10

26

Buffalo

13.35

15.95

-2.6

7-9

27

N.Y. Jets

13.8

17.04

-3.24

7-9

28

Jacksonville

13.71

18.78

-5.07

7-9

29

Detroit

12.49

17.58

-5.09

6-10

30

Oakland

12.8

18.98

-6.18

5-11

31

Philadelphia

12.37

20.23

-7.86

3-12-1

32

Kansas City

13.42

24.21

-10.79

5-11

Cold, Hard Football Facts Insider with Scout.com breaks down every NFL game against the spread through the prism of our cutting-edge Quality Stats. CHFF Insiders have gone .500 or better ATS in 72 percent of NFL weeks since the start of 2009. CHFF Insiders with Scout.com also get access to betting trends, key prop plays, inside interviews with Vegas bookmakers and detailed team stat profiles. Become a CHFF Insider with Scout.com today.  

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