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  • Gary Porpora


Updated: Oct 10, 2022


Before we get to my picks and analyses on the Week Five slate, let’s take time to review the worst four game stretch in my 15 years of playing a handicapper on the net.

Most ‘Cappers wouldn’t even publish the sad tale of my tape, but as I wrote a few weeks back, if I boast when I outperform the crew at and elsewhere—and I have almost every year since I started measuring myself against them—I must swallow my pride when I fail miserably.

Here’s my tally for the first quarter of the 2022 NFL season—feel free to mock and laugh at will:







Wow, it’s harder to read than it was to type. The good news is I’ve pulled even on my Specials and sit just two picks below .500 on my Premium Plays = Specials + Totals. If I bet, I only bet those games.

In honor of Uma Thurman’s “Black Mamba” in Tarentino’s Kill Bill let’s star punching our way out of the coffin with our Week Five picks…


Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5) @ Baltimore Ravens 47.5 GW [O]

With Pittsburgh tumbling down the stairs to the AFC North cellar, and heading towards Mike Tomlin’s first losing season ever, and Cleveland trying hard not to be Cleveland; one of these two teams should win the AFC North.

The uncharacteristically awful Magpies defense leaves Joe Burrow and his Bengals with an easy road to their second consecutive division title.

Even with a hobbled Tee Higgins on the sidelines for this baby, the Cincy Kid should have a field day against a Baltimore secondary this awful:

  • NFL worst in Opp. PYPG

  • 28th in Sack %

The Crows saving grace: they takeaway the ball better than any team in the league and are second best in turnover margin—and let’s not forget the incomparable Lamar Jackson with the 4th best QB rating in football.

Their problem could be John Harbaugh. To be fair, like most NFL head coaches, Harbaugh hates to be questioned when his bad decisions result in losses.

Last week is a case in point:

Let’s review: …4:15 to go, fourth quarter…4th down Baltimore at the Buffalo 2 yard line…Harbaugh eschews the field goal and a 3 point lead using analytics to make the decision—the rationale behind the numbers was, “if we don’t make it, we pin Josh Allen at his own two.” It was 20-20, raining, on a mucky field…Except, Lamar Jackson throws a lousy pass, the Bills intercept—instead of making plays on a slippy field with his heels on the goal line, Allen starts from his own 25 yard line calmly drives his team the length of the field to set up a game winning field goal.0

Harbaugh was remiss in not reminding Jackson to throw the ball away if his receiver isn’t open, or Jackson simply made a bad play. Either way, not kicking the chip shot field goal, taking the 3 point lead and making Allen drive 75 yards for the game winning TD was a bad move. The least fans and media can ask of the coach is for an explanation. Here is what they got:

''Hindsight, you take the points,'' Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. ''But you look at it analytically, you'll understand why we did it.''

What an arrogant bastard. And you wonder why I say the guy sports America’s most punchable face?

If you want a more complete explanation go here:

To be fair percentages are percentages and we agree that following them gives teams “the best chances to win, as any good handicapper can tell you—

Ohhhh, shut up!!!

But here are the factors that mitigate the pure numbers:

For whatever reason, Jackson was having an off day, 144 yds…TD and 2 INTs…The weather was only one reason…Buffalo’s number one defense was another…

If you believe in the numbers, they can’t possibly be calculated in real time with these and other factors like injuries or tendencies being considered. Also shouldn’t it factor in how a turnover might affect your defense’s psyche after knowing the rationale for your call has been obliterated by poor execution?

Say the Crows make their field goal; Baltimore takes the field pumped. The Bills start the drive under pressure, their entire mentality changes on the final drive. If they get to the Red Zone, they aren’t going to risk more than the perfunctory fourth row overthrow; most likely they will settle for the tying field goal and extend into overtime.

Even if Harbaugh’s failsafe becomes real and they missed the 4th down play. His defense stinks and the Bills take possession at the 2 knowing they have at least a tie in their pocket—and they know all they need is a 65 yard drive to kick the game winner. A subtle, important distinction that will impact the collective team psyche and each player’s individual psyche—such impact cannot be measured analytically.

Meanwhile in the Queen City, after opening the defense of their AFC Championship with three point losses to the Steelers and Cowboys, the Striped Cats have scored 27 points in their next two, winning big against the Jets and Miami.

Against the pathetic Magpies secondary, Burrow, Chase, and Co. will have a 300 yard three TD day; they’re on a mini-roll, and they’ll win by a field goal. The Over is our play here…

Bengals 26

Ravens 23


Tennessee Titans (-2.5) @ Washington Commanders 42.5 LW [O]

The Commanders Week One win against the young Jags has been the highlight of a disappointing 2022. Ron Rivera hasn’t been able to stabilize his squad, no matter the state of the team’s moniker, or QB situation.

I blame everything D.C. related on owner, Dan Snyder. After Riverboat Ron won an atrocious division in his first year in the nations capital with a 7-9 record, his Washingtons stagnated with the same amount of wins in 2021.

Have Rivera and Snyder been too impatient or misguided in starting any of these QBs—Dwayne Haskins, Alex Smith, Kyle Allen, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Taylor Heinicke and Garrett Gilbert?

…and this year’s entry, Carson Wentz…?

Contrast that with Mike Vrabel’s approach—he found a serviceable QB in Miami reject, Ryan Tannehill, and has four consecutive winning seasons

This year, his entire linebacking corps and a couple of CBs are on IR—along with OL Taylor Lewan Ben Jones, and Nate Davis.

The few players Vrabel can call stars—Bud Dupree, Lewan—are all injured.

What’s left is still a better team than any Ron Rivera will put out.

Titans 27

Commanders 21

***I read the Dallas/Rams line wrong all week—as Dallas being favored by 5.5—and after I wrote the Bolt/Brownies up as my Upset Special, I realized my mistake…I’ll be putting at least two units on the Cowboys to Cover getting 5.5 from the Rams***


Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5) @ Cleveland Browns 48.5 US [U]

Sometimes analyzing these NFL games and deciding which games fit into your “Specials” picks is simple. It doesn’t often happen; when it does, the trick is to go with your instinct.

Cleveland getting 3 and the hook at home against a bottom barrel Charger rush defense is one of the best values on this week’s board.

Hope Browns HC, Kevin Stefanski has told his top five offensive linemen—they help stud RB, Nick Chubb average 5 YPR—they will be run blocking 70% of the time. Too many of current NFL head coaches have forgotten a simple NFL tenet—when you’re great at it, run the goddamned ball!!!

Injuries are playing a bigger part than usual in this 2022 season—and, to my eye, coaches are playing footsie, with the injury report.

For example, I just checked two different respected sites:

  • One says Cleveland’s Myles Garret is questionable, another lists him as probable…

  • One has Jadeveon Clowney out, another says he’s probable…

If you’re betting Sharp money you want to be sure—if one or both are playing, the Browns are a much better defense.

Every site I research lists Bolts WR, Keenan Allen as definitely out—which makes the vaunted Justin Herbert offense significantly less effective. On defense, Joey Bosa is out.

It shouldn’t matter…Nick Chubb rushes for at least a buck-fitty. Take the Browns and the points—we’re betting the Under.

Browns 23

Chargers 15


Houston Texans (+7.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars 44 O/U

This is one of those weird games. I believe Jacksonville is the superior team on both sides of the ball, but the 7.5 point chalk is just enough to say , “Hold on….”

We believe a real coach like Doug Pederson recognizes the unique gifts God gave Trevor Lawrence and it is beginning to show. Of course, the cost of molding Lawrence into an elite QB are bad outcomes of poor execution and turnovers. Right now, Lawrence is just too inconsistent and doesn’t perform like an elite passer—but his QB rating is a tick under 100 and he’s only thrown two interceptions all year.

Jacksonville will win this game, but we look for the very competitive Texans to keep it within four.

Split the baby; the Under has been the hot call all year—we’ll stick with it here…

Jaguars 23

Texans 19

As usual, my picks are below in bold italic with Specials and Totals annotated:

NFL Week 5 point spreads

Indianapolis Colts (+3) @ Denver Broncos 44.5 [U]

New York Giants (+7.5) @ Green Bay Packers 41.5 London [O]

Pittsburgh Steelers (+14.5) @ Buffalo Bills 47.5 [U]

Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5) @ Cleveland Browns 48.5 US [U]

Houston Texans (+7.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars 44 O/U

Chicago Bears (+6.5) @ Minnesota Vikings 43.5

Detroit Lions (+2.5) @ New England Patriots 46.5

Seattle Seahawks (+5.5) @ New Orleans Saints 44.5

Miami Dolphins (-3.5) @ New York Jets 44.5

Dallas Cowboys (+5.5) @ L.A. Rams 42

Atlanta Falcons (+9) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48.5

Tennessee Titans (-2.5) @ Washington Commanders 42.5 LW [O]

San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) @ Carolina Panthers 39.5

Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5) @ Arizona Cardinals 45.5

Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5) @ Baltimore Ravens 47.5 GW [O]

Las Vegas Raiders (+7.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs [O]

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