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  • Gary Porpora

SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND - 2023

Updated: Jan 14

NFL 2023 – TALLY WEEK EIGHTEEN =  10 - 6

WEEKLY OVERALL =  134 – 132 - 6   .504

0/U  =  5 - 1          O/U CUMULATIVE 71 - 58   .550

SPECIALS  2 - 2    SPECIALS CUMULATIVE  39 - 31 - 2   .557

GAME OF THE WEEK    10 – 7 - 1 LOCK OF THE WEEK   10 – 7 - 1 

UPSET SPECIAL     5 – 13            O/U OF THE WEEK   14 - 4

PREMIUM PICKS CUMULATIVE   =  110 - 89 - 2   .553


2023 ATS RESULTS


We somehow managed to slink over the .500 Mark on our overall weekly picks with our best Last Week of the season--ever.


Comparing our tally to the “Experts" at cbssports.com is tricky, they get their lines from different sources.   They have 11 Pushes to my 6.  A percentage comparison wouldn’t be fair with that disparity. 


We can only fairly compare “correct calls” made.  134 out of 272 games is less than half, but the Push factor saved me--and much of the CBS gang.  There are two CBS “experts’ who were under my 134 mark, two who are tied; one had 135 correct calls and another 139.  The two stand outs are Tyler Sullivan, (145), and Jared Dubin at 146.


Like last year, I dug myself a hole and--like Uma Thurman in KIll Bill--spent the entire season trying to punch my way out.


Good news is I made money on my Totals calls and my Specials and on the combined results--my “Premium Picks.  My percentages, while not great, were  profitable, and well over the 52,4 break even threshold.


Let’s get into this weeks playoff games...


2023 SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND


GAME OF THE WEEK

Cleveland Browns (-2, 44) @ Houston Texans  [O]

Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET 

Forecast:  Perfect Dome Weather...

A quick review of my handicapping process in the NFL’s post-season...


I use “The Godfather,” the late Gil Brandt’s, statistical method during every NFL Week--more so in the playoffs.  Basically, we look at key stats, then apply them to the playoff matchup. Most of the time we end up with a clear statistical advantage for one team, but even the great Brandt knew his method wasn’t perfect--and of course, I tweak it a little every week/year.


Also, there are games where stats/trends, etc. are relegated to secondary status because of weather, matchup history, teams’ records, etc...


We’ll use the Browns @ Texans matchup to illustrate:


YARDS PER PLAY & YPP DIFFERENTIAL


These two key stats tells us what offense has the easier path to score and which defense makes the opponent work harder...


Cleveland ranks 28th on offense/2nd defensively ...Texans = 13th/15th

Houston allows .4 YPP more than Cleveland gains = 5.2/4.6


The Skidmarks give up a whopping .8 Points less per play than the Shitkickers gain..= 4.6/5.4 --second best defensively.


Advantage Cleveland...


3rd DOWN CONVERSION RATE & DIFFERENTIAL


The Brownies are 29th on offense but the NFL’s best on defense.

Houston = 19th offensively, and a surprising 5th on defense...


Advantage Cleveland...


RED ZONE CONVERSION RATES


At around 55% these teams are equal on offense and the Houstons are a very respectable 13th on defense...


The most surprising stat in this breakdown-- the Browns are the leagues worst team allowing offenses to score a TD 71.43% of the time...


YOWZA!


The reason may be--and this will factor heavily into our pick for this game--The Browns play an aggressive man defense more than any other NFL squad; usually that puts pressure on the back seven and teams that can run take advantge...(Houston doesn’t run that well.)


Advantage:  Houston...


RUSHING YPP 


At 19th the Browns appear to struggle a bit against the run, but the Texans, at 29th and gaining only 3.7 YPR, don’t have the rushing game to exploit Cleveland’s weakness.


And it’s a weakness that may not be real...


Cleveland is the gold standard in pass defense--first in Opp. Completion% = 57.38% And Opp. Pass YPG = 164.7, and 2nd in OPP. Yards per Pass = 5.2....Cleveland forces a lot of teams to run the ball because they can’t solve the Browns secondary....


TURNOVERS


We like to think  in terms of Giveaways and Takeaways, and here Houston is 5th best in TO Margin per Game at -0.6 vs. +0.5 For the Skidders.


That’s over a full Turnover per game differential--and a huge number during mid January football. More impressively, with a rookie QB, the Texans own the league’s best mark at giving the ball away only 0.8 times per game--Cleveland is 32nd--while their secondary is 3rd best at forcing picks at 3.36%


Advantage:  Houston...


KICKING GAME


Cleveland is #1 allowing a field goal conversion rate of only 70.83%--a very important stat coupled with their league leading results at blocking field goals.


Advantage: Cleveland...


OTHER FACTORS


Mr. Brandt used this statistical profile along with these other factors--each carrying different degrees of importance:


COACHING


TEAM DEFENSE:  Based on schedule difficulty and offenses faced...


QB PLAY...RATING...BIG GAME EXPERIENCE...RECORD

TEAMS RECENT HISTORY


THE TRENDS


The stats reveal significant advantages in the most important aspects for Cleveland:  Houston will have to work harder to score TDs, and the raw excellence of C.J. Stroud will be tested.  He’s a rookie playing his 18th game of the year, 5 more games than he played for OSU last year.


He hasn’t hit that rookie wall--yet.  If his Shitkickers aren’t blowing Cleveland out by the fourth quarter, Stroud might press too much and make mistakes, but with a 23-5 TD/INT ratio, maybe he can avoid that mythical wall of doom.


Here are some trends from vsin.com:


  • Earlier, I indicated winning percentages of 40.9% straight up and 50.4% ATS for rookie quarterbacks since 2004. The results of late are far worse. Since the start of the 2013 season, rookie quarterbacks who started at least seven games in a season are just 159-296-2 SU (34.9%) and 208-245-4 ATS (45.9%).


  • In their last 14 playoff games, rookie quarterbacks are just 4-10 SU and ATS (28.6%). Take away Joe Flacco’s 2009 run, and the record drops to 2-9 SU and ATS, including 1-8 in their last nine.


  • Rookie quarterbacks have fared reasonably well under the spotlight of non-Sunday games lately, going 14-14 SU but 20-8 ATS (71.4%) in their last 28 such tries. Moreover, they are 18-5-1 ATS (78.3%) in their last 24 Monday contests.


The above is from, in my opinion, the best ‘Capper in the business, Steve Makinen.

Go to the link and read his article--your first  few views are free--nobody I’ve read dives deeper into the “trend” game.


(Keep in mind, trends are just one tool needed to successfully pick winners consistently.)



I’m betting Stroud can’t avoid the mostly no fear, Cover One defense employed by DC, Jim Schwartz, and the Brownies defense. In fact against the Cover One defenses--mostly man with a rover in the middle--Stroud has faced--the Jets, Atlanta, Cleveland--the rookie struggled mightily. 


Add the elite and fierce pass rush led by Myles Garret, and Stroud will be in for a long evening.


We hate laying points to a Home Dog in the playoffs, but we have to go with our gut; bet the Over...


Browns  30

Texans  20



LOCK OF THE WEEK

Miami Dolphins @ Kansas City Chiefs (-3, 45)  LW  [U]

Saturday, 8 p.m. ET

Forecast:  “Perfect” Polar Vortex weather: High, gusting


***The unbelievably greedy NFL is “making history” by streaming a football game on f#@king  Peacock! WTF--I pay 300.00 A year for SundayTicket and the NFL wants me to pay--I know, it’s only six bucks--to see a playoff game...Jesus, how greedy can they get?...***


Weather will be the determinative factor here.


Andy Reid’s newfound status as the NFL’s best legitimate coach--the league”s most notorius Cheater in its 104 year history has exited New England--and Patrick Mahomes’ seemingly constant pursuit as best playoff quarterback of all time should be the reason we want to watch this one. 


The weather gods have a different agenda.  In Fact, TV viewers should consider themselves lucky if they can see the numbers on players’ jerseys.


Had the Dolphins beat Buffalo last week and earned a home playoff game,  (against Buffalo), their vaunted team speed might have been able to force Josh Allen into a couple of mistakes, thereby keeping the game close.


Polar Vortexes tend to negate speed--at least that’s what I’ve heard. 


To be fair Miami’s D-Line and defense is banged up.  They lost 4 linebackers in two weeks.   The played close to 80 plays last week and were 1-5 against playoff teams in 2023--when they weren’t slammed by the injury bug.


They are still the most overrated team in pro football.


Lay the field goal; the weather portends the Under is a must play


Chiefs 22

Dolphins  16




UPSET SPECIAL

Monday, 4:30 p.m. ET 

Forecast:  “Perfect” Sub-zero weather: High, gusting winds, snow...

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills (-10, 41)  [U] US


This line is the biggest of the weekend as the Steelers are barely a month removed from losing three straight to pretty bad teams: Indy, the Pats and Arizona.


Could it be because the Steelers were a less than decent team before Mason Rudolph played the last three games like he was Patrick Mahomes?


When we apply the Gil Brandt analysis, the Bills have the clear advantage in stats, on both sides of the scrimmage line, the better quarterback in Josh Allen, even though he makes too many mistakes, and a home field as hostile as any in the league; they were 7-1 at home this year.  


The coaches are two of the NFL’s best.


I locked this early line, and more importantly, the Totals Number on Monday morning, before the forecasters called for near blizzard like conditions.


Look for Mike Tomlin and Teryl Austin’s defense to make up for the absence of T.J. Watt by devising inside blitzes when Allen is in shotgun--but that tweak may not be necessary, or effective, due to the weather. (It is supposed to be below zero with possible snow Monday night in Buffalo)


Given my loyalties to the Black & Mustard, (Heinz, of course), you can ignore this pick--but it is Steeler weather, they have a legitimate two-headed running game with Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren, and Minkah Fitzpatrick returns to a suddenly deep secondary.


Buffalo has been blitzed by injuries to key defensive players, including five defensive backs--and Josh Allen himself is battling a shoulder injury.


The weather and the inflated Spread make this a confident pick for the visiting Men of Steel.  There might not be 20 points scored in this one.  The 10 point Spread is too tempting to dismiss. 


Alas, I can’t predict a Pittsburgh win, but they will cover the Spread...


Buffalo 23

Pittsburgh  14


OVER/UNDER OF THE WEEK

Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET


Philadelphia Eagles (-3, 44.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers [U]  O/U


Philadelphia enters the 2023 playoff field as the team with the least momentum--and their star receiver, A.J. Brown is out with a knee injury. The Mateys have lost five of their last six and their Mojo has disappeared


The Buccaneers, with Baker Mayfield at the helm, still aren’t the Eagles caliber...But Mayfield has improved throughout the year, and a playoff victory would complete his redemption tour after Cleveland, Carolina, and the Rams let him go.


This is the most unpredictable game of the weekend; the Eagles are just too wobbly to bet on--and Tampa comes out of the dreadful NFC South...


Obviously, we love the Under because of the weather and matchup...


Eagles 23

Buccaneers 21



Los Angeles Rams @ Detroit Lions (-3.5, 52)  [U]  O/U


Somebody is going to get revenge in this one...


Who?  Jared Goff or Matt Stafford? 


Truth is, there wasn’t a big deal about the trades that sent these two QBs to their new teams.  Stafford was spent in Detroit, and Sean McVay simply did not believe in Jared Goff. 


The change propelled the Big Horns to a Super Bowl win.


Detroit looks for the same payoff starting with SWCW against a Rams team that has a similar profile--very good offense, shabby defense, excellent coaching. 


The Rams are riding a four game win streak.  They have the experience of a great playoff run. Detroit has no playoff history or experience B.C.--before Campbell. The Lions last playoff win was in 1992. Before that...1957....


The Jungle Kings should be riding a four game win streak, but in their Week 17 matchup, the refs snatched victory from Detroit and gave a win to Dallas on a clear blunder by the officials.


Gil Brandt’s stats tell us what we already knew--these teams are very evenly matched.


We love and root for Dan Campbell.  I love tough guys who cry because the win or lose--there is something special about the Detroit coach.


The Hook does bother me--I can see a close game here--but I’ll take the flyer on Campbell and his Big Cats..


Detroit  27

Rams 23




Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET

Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys (-7.5, 49)  [O] 


A big game for Dallas who sees this 2023 team as its best hope for its first Super Bowl--or long playoff run--in 28 years.


As long as Jerrah Jones threatens to fire his head coach before the playoffs begin, I can’t look at the Cowboys as being remotely relevant.


Your Cowboys have played like an entitled, overrated team, with the planet’s most obnoxious fans.  However, they have been been great at home this year.


For me, if the Spread were just one point lower, I’d be all in with Dallas; but I think the Pack can keep this game relatively close.


Cowboys  27

Packers  21




Per usual my complete slate of pics is below in bold italics:


2023 SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND

Cleveland Browns (-2, 44) @ Houston Texans  [O] GW

Miami Dolphins @ Kansas City Chiefs (-3, 45)  LW  [U]

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills (-10, 41)  [U]  US

Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys (-7.5, 49) [O]

Los Angeles Rams @ Detroit Lions (-3.5, 52)  [U] 

Philadelphia Eagles (-3, 44.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers [U] O/U

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NFL 2023 SUPER BOWL

NFL 2023 – CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFF WEEKEND REG. SEASON WEEKLY OVERALL =  134 – 132 - 6   .504 CHAMPIONSHIP  TALLY =  0 - 2    PLAYOFFS = 3 - 9 =  .250 2023 OVERALL  = 137 - 141 - 6  =  .493 0/U  =  0 -2 

NFL 2023 CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND

REG. SEASON WEEKLY OVERALL =  134 – 132 - 6   .504 DIVISIONAL TALLY =  0 - 4    PLAYOFFS = 3 - 7  OVERALL  = 137 - 139 - 6 0/U  =  1 - 2  - 1          O/U CUMULATIVE 77 - 61 - 1   .558 SPECIALS  0 - 4

NFL 2023 DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS - PICKS ATS

NFL 2023 – SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND REG. SEASON WEEKLY OVERALL =  134 – 132 - 6   .504 PLAYOFF TALLY =  3 - 3  OVERALL  137 - 135 - 6  .504 0/U  =  5 - 1          O/U CUMULATIVE 76 - 59   .563 SPECIALS

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