WILD CARD WEEKEND!!!
Updated: Jan 5, 2020
AFTER WEEK SEVENTEEN
Week Seventeen Picks: 9 – 7 2019 Overall Tally: 137 – 113 – 6 .547
Weekly Totals Picks: 1 – 3 Cumulative Totals: 50 – 52– 1 .490
Weekly Specials 2– 2 Cumulative Specials: 33 – 34 – 1 .493
GAME OF THE WEEK 6 – 11 LOCK OF THE WEEK 11 – 6
UPSET SPECIAL 9– 7 – 1 O/U OF THE WEEK 7 – 10
The NFL Playoffs…Now it gets tricky…
The Boys in Vegas pare the lines with even more uncanny accuracy. Spreads and the totals Numbers are plowed over by distant and sometimes not so distant relatives of Gangsters name Traficanti, or Gambino.
Back in the day, their children were often foot soldiers for the Mafia; some were, indeed, the leg-breakers who ”educated” gamblers who thought they might somehow get over on the “system.”
Today, things are a tad different. The Goombahs’ great grandkids are educated at Yale or MIT and they are virtuosos at their craft, creating statistical, handicapping algorithms for sports books. These PhD holders and prodigies are every bit as gifted as Eddie Murphy, Paul McCartney, or Nancy Pelosi are gifted in their fields—and their talent should never be underestimated.
The nature of the gambling beast, is, of course, if you play long enough, the most you can hope for is to break dead even. That hope is seldom realized by any gambler.
In fact you are lucky if you lose no more than the “VIG” Vegas scarfs up no matter the outcome of any game
There are guys who claim to make money Against The Spread, but to make a living at it, you need commitment to a strategy a hefty bankroll and then know how to bet.
We’re here to have fun—if we win some cash, none of us will complain.
If your opponent bases their calculations on information you can’t access, research is the answer and applying the acquired information to the “correct” games is the key to a successful weekend.
In my ten years enjoying this hobby, I’ve been above the 5.25 benchmark—anything below and you’re a loser--for about the last four years. I’ve made a lot of money on my Totals bets, until this year. (The last three Weeks have killed me.).
Come playoff time, the Gairzo had been slowly sinking in the quicksand of incompetence, struggling to stay around around .500…
GIL BRANDT’S LIST
Couple years ago, I came up with a list of 12 Factors that the handicapper can use to successfully call close playoff games. The list is culled from talk radio ‘cappers, football pundits and former Cowboys executive and, recent, HOFer, Gil Brand.t. aka,”The Godfather.”.
I believe Mr. Brandt’s original list contained 10 factors. If one team was better in six of those statistical categories, that team—according to Mr. Brandt—won 80% of the time.
My main contribution to Mr. Brandt’s system was to determine which stats are the most important to being a “TOP 12” NFL team.
There are 12 playoff teams. If a given team dominates the Top 12 of any important combination of statistical categories, said team is by definition a ”playoff caliber team.”
Let’s very briefly breakdown each stat; the number indicates how many of the 12 playoff teams are near the top of each each category.
The most important category correlated to playoff participation is:
SCORING DIFFERENTIAL – 10 playoff teams in top 12
· Only Seattle (14) and Houston (15) are out of the “Playoff Zone’
· Of all teams in the tournament, only Houston has a negative Point Differential…
POINTS PER GAME – 9 Playoff Teams in Top 12
· Houston (14)…Packers (15)…Buffalo (23)...
OPPONENT POINTS PER GAME – 8 Playoff Teams in Top 12
· New Orleans (13)…Phillly (15)…Houston (19)…Seattle (22)
POINTS PER PLAY -9 Playoff Teams in Top 12
· Packers (13)…Philly (16)…Buffalo (24)…
OPPONENT POINTS PER PLAY -8 Playoff Teams in Top 12
· NO (13)…Philly (16)…Houston (18)…Seattle (22)…
Even before we get to turnovers, patterns are emerging…
TURNOVER MARGIN PER GAME/TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL – 10 Playoff Teams in Top 12
· Houston (15)…Philly 22)….
TURNOVERS BY DEFENSE (TAKEAWAYS) – 9 Playoff Teams in Top 12
· NO (13)…Houston (16)…Philly (20)…
NET YARDS PER PLAY – 8 Playoff Teams in Top 12
· Seattle (15)…Houston (19)…Packers (20)…Philly (21)
Take a look at which teams are consistently out of the Playoff Zone—and in what stats…
OFFENSIVE/YPP – 8 Playoff Teams in Top 12
· Packers (18)…Philly (21)…Buffalo (22)…NE (23)…
DEFENSIVE 3RD DOWN CONVERSION % - 8 Playoff Teams in Top 12
· Packers (15)…Seattle (16)… Minny (19)… Houston (23)…
RED ZONE TD SCORING % - 8 Playoff Teams in Top 12
· Buffalo (17)…KC (20)…49ers (21)…NE (26)
Any stat you think should be included in my list, please let me know.
I researched a bunch more and found none that included a minimum of eight teams in that stat’s Top 12—therefore, if a super majority of playoff teams did not top out a given category that means excelling in that part of the game was not correlated to post season participation—or wasn’t as important as those stats featuring almost all of the playoff field, (8-12 teams).
This is the most subjective of all categories, but smart bettors have to consider:
· Is Any Reid’s lack of Super Bowl success connected more to him or the players? Did his teams overachieve to get to a Super Bowl or did his play calling, in-game decisions, and/or lack of or ineffective adjustment play the bigger role?
· Does Belichick having a library of stolen signals as significant as some think?
· Does Mike Vrabel, knowing his former coach’s cheating ways, have an upper hand on how to minimize NE’s competitive advantage?
· Are first year coaches like Matt Lafleur clearly at a disadvantage?
· Does a Mike Zimmer feel more pressure to make a deep playoff run than and Any Reid, or Doug Pedersen?
· How does an opponent’s performance since Week 13 influence game planning?
Personally, I’ve always believed, this was a huge advantage for the New England’s and New Orleans of the world. Teams used to winning seldom beat themselves or get beat big. Experienced teams and coaches know how to stay in games even when they are outmanned or out planned.
QB EXPERIENCE/RATING - 9
· Wentz (13)…Brady (19)…J. Allen (24)….
Okay, our approach to ‘capping the always difficult playoff cycle has given us a unique window into which teams are most likely to be successful.
For example, the one team in the P-Zone in every category I listed here, Baltimore, is clearly the team to beat. Trust me, The Magpies were in the top five in categories I haven’t mentioned—on both sides of the ball. The 49ers were consistently dominant as well—as were the Chiefs—and KC’s defense has ˆimproved the most over the last half and last quarter of the season.
We also get a clear picture of which teams might be golfing next weekend
Scroll up; in every important defensive category, the Houston Texans are out of the Top 12 Playoff Zone more than any other team—which brings us to our first Wild Card Weekend call
UPSET SPECIAL (9 – 7 – 1)
BUFFALO BILLS (10-6) @ HOUSTON TEXANS (10-6) -3 43.5 [U]
We love DeShaun Watson and we marvel at DeAndre Hopkins but without Will Fuller and Kenny Stills healthy, Watson will be under the Buffalo Gun all day.
Houston is overmatched in the trenches and Buffalo’s pass defense is no joke.
We see Sean McDermott pounding the ball on the 25th RYPG ranked Houston rush defense—27th, giving up 4.8 YPR—and, unless Watson takes a major jump to “superstar”, how can Houston possibly win this thing?
Trends courtesy of Oddsshark.com:
· The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Buffalo's last 6 games.
· Buffalo is 1-4 SU in their last 5 games against Houston.
· The total has gone UNDER in 12 of Buffalo's last 15 games on the road.
· The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Buffalo's last 5 games this season.
· Buffalo is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games against an opponent in the AFC South division.
· Buffalo is 2-8 SU in their last 10 games played in January.
· Buffalo is 3-10 SU in their last 13 games played on a Saturday.
· The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Houston's last 9 games.
· Houston is 10-5 SU in their last 15 games.
· The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Houston's last 5 games against Buffalo.
· Houston is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games at home.
· Houston is 6-3 SU in their last 9 games this season.
· Houston is 14-6 SU in their last 20 games against an opponent in the AFC conference.
· The total has gone OVER in 5 of Houston's last 7 games against an opponent in the AFC East division.
· Houston is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games played in January.
· The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Houston's last 9 games when playing as the favorite.
· The Bills are 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 road games.
· The Texans are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games as home favorites.
· The Bills are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 playoff games as an underdog.
Yes we know; Bill O’Brien has a lot more experience than Sean McDermott and the Bills don’t get hearts aflutter with their playoff history—but Obrien is 1-3 in post-season competition.
We like the Bills to dominate an outmatched, undermanned Texas squad and we’re playing the Under.
Bills 23 Texans 15
O/U OF THE WEEK 7– 10
TENNESSEE TITANS (9-7) @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4) - 6 44 [U]
This is a tough call. Simply put, the Patriots have been the best bet in football under any scenario you can name—home favorite, favorite, playoffs at home, name it—it is just amazing what a sure bet the Pats have been, even if we remind readers as much as we can…. Belichick has a library of stolen signals.
We could wimp out like so many gutless pundits did all week:
“Oh the Pats will find a way...”
“Never count Belichick out…”
Last week, with a much needed bye at stake, playing one of their three AFC East lap-dogs, the Patriots were humiliated by the Dolphins—and for the third week in a row, I watched Brady flexing, and shaking his throwing elbow.
In the last month of the season, Brady has thrown for about 200 yards a game.
Julian Edelman has a bad knee; CB, Devin McCourty has a sore groin. Rob Gronkowski is partying somewhere…
This isn’t a Tennessee squad you think. Like their coach, Mike Vrabel, they are tough, they hit, and they believe in each other—and Vrabel knows where all of Darth Belichick’s skeletons are buried.
I think Vrabel comes out with Tannehill throwing all over the field—remember, he has the leagues best QB rating…Belichick will be expecting Derrick Henry—but not as a pass receiver.
Just a feeling...Belichick spooking with the injury report, Brady’s elbow, Edelman’s’; knee--something is not right in Foxborough. Even Stephon Gilmore, DPOY candidate, was embarrassed by DaVante Parker and Fitzpatrick last week.
The Pats really needed that bye and they laid down like dogs.
It’s supposed to be cold and snowy, and I guess Belichick must have something up his hoodie sleeves—but his boys better be ready to get punched in the teeth.
I’m taking the Titans to win outright Under the Number
Titans 23 Patriots 21
I’ll have a separate post for Sunday’s games…
NFL Lines Wild Card Playoffs - 1/4 - 1/5, 2020
Date & Time Favorite Line Underdog Total
1/4 4:35 ET At Houston US -3 [U] Buffalo 38.5
1/4 8:15 ETAt New England O/U -4 [U] Tennessee 44