• Gary Porpora

WEEK FOURTEEN RANT & PICKS

NFL WEEK FOURTEEN


AFTER WEEK THIRTEEN


Week Twelve Picks: 8 – 8 2019 Overall Tally: 100– 89 – 3 .529

Weekly Totals Picks: 3 – 4 Cumulative Totals: 41 – 39 – 1 .513

Weekly Specials 1– 3 Cumulative Specials: 24 – 27– 1 .471


GAME OF THE WEEK 5– 8 LOCK OF THE WEEK 8 – 5

UPSET SPECIAL 6 – 6 – 1 O/U OF THE WEEK 5 – 8


GAME OF THE WEEK


BALTIMORE RAVENS @ BUFFALO BILLS -5.5 43.5 [O]


I was going to keep my big mouth shut, but, you know, that has never been my strong suit.


Tim Ryan, San Francisco 49er color analyst, was suspended from his radio duties for one game. His offense? He was stamped “INSENSITIVE!” during a routine Monday morning radio spot for the following observation. (For context he was talking about the effectiveness of Lamar Jacksons run/pass/option fakes…)—here is his exact quote:


“He’s really good at that fake, Lamar Jackson, but when you consider his dark skin color with a dark football with a dark uniform, you could not see that thing,” Ryan said Monday on KNBR-AM (690) in San Francisco. “I mean, you literally could not see when he was in and out of the mesh point, and if you’re a half step slow on him in terms of your vision, forget about it, he’s out of the gate.”


Obviously, Ryan’s phrasing, “You could not see that thing…” implies he had talked to one or more players and they flat out told him of the visual conundrum.


Baltimore runs a set of plays designed to elicit quick defensive decisions. Jackson receives the ball from the center, turns parallel to the defense, and within maybe three fifths of a second—depending on the defensive end and linebackers reaction/positioning, Jackson will choose one of the following

  • RUN—Remember Jackson is arguably the most elusive runner in 100 years of NFL history, and he can run the forty in less than 4.4 seconds...

  • HAND OR PITCH THE BALL TO THE RUNNING BACK—again, these three choices depend on the how the two defenders react…

  • PASS…Oh yeah, Jackson can accurately throw a football 70 yards and has one of the quickest releases in the league…

Ergo, if the defense does not choose wisely, a big play for Jackson and the Magpies is the typical result.


Take a look at Ryan’s comment again—humor me, please—not only is it insightful, referring to one of the few advantages being Black in America allows, but it captures the literal split second decision the defense must make, as Jackson is making his split-second decision….


CONCLUSION: the speed of an NFL game is virtually incomprehensible to the average fan.


Full disclosure—I don’t like Tim Ryan, he watched Richard Seymour sucker punch Ben Roethlisberger and tried to justify the assault during the broadcast and doubled down the day after on ESPN.


But on this politically correct fiasco, the man bears no fault.


Imagine for a moment you are an elite, gifted DL or LB, playing a violent, lightning fast game against those elite athletes who are equally as talented; every decision unfolding during any given play can result in random degrees of failure.


Imagine, to achieve a successful outcome against perhaps the most unique NFL talent since Barry Sanders, you must, within less than a .60 second window ascertain if he has handed the ball off, pitched the ball to a RB, or kept the ball.


The operative term in the above paragraph is “ball.”


If a defender loses sight of the ball during any of that partial second, he cannot defend the play.


I am a die-hard progressive American. When I see people on my side of the aisle ruining peoples careers over inconsequential behavior like a comedian pretending to grab a sleeping woman’s tits, or a rookie politician hitting a bong and having sex with a staffer, or a jock turned analyst describing an obvious dilemma for an NFL defense, I hang my head in shame.


Progressives, who believe you are "superior" to Trump supporters because they lack context in their thinking, or tolerate no dissent in their ranks, need to reconsider their righteousness. The next time you wag your finger at a Trump loyalist and ask “Why?” hold that pose and look in the nearest mirror—you ‘re not gonna like what you see.


OH YEAH, THE PICK


The Ravens have the rare look of a team headed for a show down with Destiny—and Destiny will have problems covering the cosmic spread.


All stat splits show Buffalo has the better defense, except in the run game—exactly why I think the Bills will fall just short of pulling off the natural upset. The Crows have too many weapons who can exploit that weakness.


What has to give Baltimore’s DC, Wink Martindale concern—besides the snickers whenever his name is uttered—is the Bills give up a full yard less per play than his Crows.


To fill out Sean McDermott’s Bill’s worry list, factor in the perennial excellence of John Harbaugh’s special teams and a Baltimore win directly resulting from a punt return or Special Teams play is never a surprise.

  • The Magpies average 9.9 yards returning punts—3rd best.

  • They allow only 5.4 return yards after punting—8th—barely a tick off the top five

  • Buffalo ranks 15th, averaging 7 yards per return…

  • When they punt--30th—giving up 10 yards per punt return…


Watching the Red Zone channel last week, when they showed portions of the Ravens squeaking by the Gold Miners, Lamar Jackson took some hard hits; I’m talking face to face mash-ups. Jackson better be careful; once he’s out of the pocket, beyond the line of scrimmage, he’s fair game for 250+ pound men who would consider it a career highlight to obliterate his being.


We’re splitting the baby on this one—the Bills Cover; Baltimore wins—and playing the Over.


Ravens 26 Bills 24


LOCK OF THE WEEK


LA CHARGERS @ JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS +3 43 [U]


Before you laugh, I defy you to find anything resembling a LOW on the Week Fourteen slate.


I’ll wait.


This was the only game on the docket where one superior QB is playing a third stringer. The Chargers have offensive talent that just isn’t producing—and have defensive talent on the line with Joey Bosa, and Melvin Ingram, and on the back end with Derwin James and Casey Heyward.


They’ve somehow managed to lose eight games by an average of five points.


Luckily, Philip Rivers and Co. will be facing a Gardner Minshew led Jaguars team that for some reason—no matter who plays QB—have trouble ATS, (1-6) or winning SU, (2-5) against West Coast teams; the Chargers flat own them no matter the field—7-0 ATS over the last ten years.


More trends:

  • The Chargers are 8-3 SU and ATS in their last 11 games on the road vs teams with losing records.

  • The Jaguars are 9-25 SU in their last 34 games as home underdogs.

  • The total has gone UNDER in 16 of the Chargers’ last 20 games in December.


It’s not rocket science. One of these weeks Philip Rivers is going to throw five TDs passes and remind everyone, again, why he is perhaps the most wasted QB talent in the entire century of NFL competition.


The Under is a cautious play here.


Chargers 23 Jaguars 19


UPSET SPECIAL


DENVER BRONCOS @ HOUSTON TEXANS -9.5 41.5 [O]


Sometimes you gotta go with your gut even when the betting public and the Sharks think your gut is full of it…


Check this page out at Team Rankings.com:


https://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/matchup/broncos-texans-week-14-2019/game-log


The Broncos have given up more than 27 points exactly once—to the Chiefs. They have a Top Ten defense in nearly every important category.


Houston is coming off an emotional home victory versus the Brady Bunch and knows full well they go to Tennessee next week then host the Titans in week 17.


Even if they’re not looking ahead, Denver’s defense will keep the Broncos within the Chalk.


The Over is our cautious play here.


Texans 24 Broncos 19


O/U OF THE WEEK


PITTSBURGH STEELERS @ ARIZONA CARDINALS -11 39 [U]


Guess what,..The Gairzo was wrong. Let’s take a moment and savor the rarity…


Turns out, the Jags/Bolts won’t be the only game where a clearly superior QB is playing a third stringer. The Red Birds, featuring Kyler Murray host the Steelers led by Devlin Hodges, aka, “DUCK” because he won a duck calling contest in a Southern state where they chronicle such unusual achievements.


It didn’t get the kid an invitation to the NFL combine.


You might be thinking Pittsburgh over Arizona as another possible LOW yours truly may have missed. Let me ‘splain something to you—if I picked the Steelers as a Lock and they lose, my three sons would beat me up.


No, he’s not kidding.


Besides, Pittsburgh is playing with house money and this is the kind of game a pit boss loves to steal from Pittsburgh.


Of course, the racist contingent of Steelers fans are pining for a loss on the road, especially on the West Coast, so they can justify their hatred of the best coach in football


Unless, of course, you count the Cheater in New England.


You hear the tired tropes every time the Steelers lose a game “to a team they should beat.”


Even if the Steelers are playing without their franchise QB, have recently lost two top flight players to madness or free agency; have played most of the season without their starting WR, RB, and stand-out D-Lineman. (Last year, Tomlin took heat for a field goal kicker in a mental slump, players turning the ball—and games—over to team at the one-yard line or other dumb, ill timed player mistakes.)


Last season, if Chris Boswell kicked with the same accuracy he did two years ago or this year, the Steelers would have been vying for a second seed bye.


Pick a year before Tomlin “took over” the defense or the offensive line was being rebuilt, or a year when Ben got sandwiched and cracked a rib, or any number of the last ten years when the Steelers didn’t win a playoff game or, god forbid, missed the playoffs.


The facts say, more often than not, in the last decade, for various reasons unrelated to coaching the Steelers have been one of those teams a good team should beat.


BTW, I checked. BehindTheSteelCurtain.com documented the Steelers performance, vis-à-vis Tomlin’s record or “trend” against “bad” teams, until the 2014 campaign. Using their exact criteria, I updated their analysis to include e very game to date.


Here are the facts: ......…


Since 2007 Tomlin's record & winning percentage against teams who finished the year—


Under .500 & .250 = 99 – 31 – 1 .762 ......…


Under .500 = 70 - 24 .745......…


Under .250 = 29-7 .831 ......…


Furthermore, in exactly half of his tenure in the Burgh, Tomlin had ZERO losses to teams under .250—in '08, '10-'11, '15-'16 & ‘17= Six years. That, alone, shoots down the “trend” myth.


Blind fanatics point to the outlier 2014 losses to TB, NYJ, and the Browns as an example of a trend that clearly, has never existed. They harp on those three losses in every post loss commentary—never mentioning that trio represents nearly HALF of Tomlin’s total losses to teams under .250.


A much more reasoned, accurate analysis would note Tomlin’s worst years using the above criteria were in ’12, ’13, ’14—when the defense had already gotten old and the O-line and secondary were being overhauled. Those three years included two 8-8 seasons, which using Steelers fanatic’s criteria relegates the Steelers to one of the teams that “should lose to good teams.”—Those three years rendered the following record against teams:


Under .500 & .250 = 21-15 .583


Under .500 = 14 - 11 .560


Under .250 = 7 – 4 .636


The so-called trend occurred during the rebuilding of a very old defense, and a porous offensive line, along with that key 2012 injury to Ben.


It’s called perspective.


The literal handful of games Tomlin’s teams have looked “flat” unprepared, and/or lacking emotion calls for all the criticism we can muster.


Tomlin deserves criticism for, again, a literal handful of games where his clock management stunk—not nearly as much as Fanatics think. Tomlin deserves criticism for an often head shaking lack of discipline—holding his players accountable—but how much of those decisions were influenced by Rooney?


I’m on board with Tomlin having earned his fair share of criticism.


I also understand Fanatics have selective memory. I understand the Steelers have been so good for 48 years, fanatics expect them to beat any team not named the Steelers—every time--but facts are facts: There is no trend, backed up by legitimate data, that demonstrates Mike Tomlin doesn’t win “the games he should win.”


OH YEAH, THE PICK..


Two of the worse Red Zone% and Third Down% teams in football. Arizona’s defense is on a path to historical infamy.


The revived—by ahem, Mike Tomlin—Pittsburgh defense should have Murray on his back so much they'll feel compelled leave a C–Note in his locker after the game. This is Hodges third start; rotten Arizona defense or not, we should see a little improvement in terms of progression management and tight-end utilization.


The Steelers Cover—and take the Under


Steelers 23 Cardinals 12




NFL Lines For Week 14 - 12/5 - 12/9, 2019

Date & Time Favorite Line Underdog Total

12/5 8:20 ET Dallas -3.5 [O] At Chicago 42.5

12/8 1:00 ET Baltimore GW -5.5 [O] At Buffalo 43.5

12/8 1:00 ET At Green Bay -13 Washington 42

12/8 1:00 ET At Houston U S -9.5 [U] Denver 41.5

12/8 1:00 ET At New Orleans -3 San Francisco 44

12/8 1:00 ET At Cleveland -8.5 Cincinnati 41

12/8 1:00 ET At Atlanta -2.5 Carolina 48

12/8 1:00 ET At Minnesota -14 Detroit 42.5

12/8 1:00 ET At NY Jets -5.5 Miami 44

12/8 1:00 ET At Tampa Bay -3 [O] Indianapolis 47.5

12/8 4:05 ET LA Chargers LW -3 [O] At Jacksonville 43

12/8 4:25 ET At New England -3 [U] Kansas City 48.5

12/8 4:25 ET Pittsburgh O/U -2.5 At Arizona 43.5

12/8 4:25 ET Tennessee -2.5 At Oakland 47.5

12/8 8:20 ET Seattle 2.5 [U] At LA RamS 46.5


Monday Night Football Line

12/9 8:15 ET At Philadelphia -8.5 [U] NY Giants 47

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