Broadsword calling Danny Boy: NFL playoff power ratings and picks; Chargers/Jags, Giants/Vikings, Ravens/Bengals | Eastern North Carolina Now

Unlike college football, where handicapping is all about run-stopping defence, coaching and the home field advantage, in the NFL playoffs algo-driven power ratings are the sword, the shield -- and the yield

    Well, it's all right riding around in the breeze
    Well, it's all right if you live the life you please
    Well, it's all right doing the best you can
    Well, it's all right as long as you lend a hand

    Well, it's all right even if they say you're wrong
    Well, it's all right, sometimes you gotta be strong
    Well, it's all right as long as you got somewhere to lay
    Well, it's all right, every day is Judgment Day

    Well, it's all right even when push comes to shove
    Well, it's all right if you got someone to love
    Well, it's all right, everything'll work out fine
    Well, it's all right, we're going to the end of the line

    Well, it's all right even if you're old and gray
    Well, it's all right, you still got something to say
    Well, it's all right, remember to live and let live
    Well, it's all right, the best you can do is forgive
- Roy Orbison

The Correspondent and the Hawk assess battle damage across Mostar, 1990-something: Above.     Click image to enlarge.

    Unlike college football, where handicapping is all about run-stopping defence, coaching and the home field advantage, in the NFL playoffs algo-driven power ratings are the sword, the shield -- and the yield. If one views college football handicapping as post-modern expressionism from an analytical perspective, then it is not a stretch to see NFL playoff analysis as quantum physics with a healthy dose of differential equations thrown in.

    "Always the numbers"

    With 120 plus college teams on the board any given weekend, the wide disparity of teams, styles, and conferences presents quite a challenge to The Man; he simply cannot follow closely that many teams. Do you think he knows ECU football as well as the top twenty insiders in Greenville? Now multiply that out by the card and the various Division II teams that play these games early, and you observe the range.

    Compare this to 32 NFL teams, each covered meticulously by multiple in-market TV stations and countless podcasting newspapers and national cable sports outlets. The Man makes it his business to know every aspect of these teams, games and ownership structures. His line is razor sharp and when combined with the 11-10 lay, NFL football becomes one tough game to beat in the regular season.

    The postseason a different story. Flocks of new gamblers arrive with the college season concluded and the hype the playoffs bring. Huge pools of currency find their way into these wagers and even the slightest line movement can have significant effect on hundreds of millions of dollars, pounds, euros and roubles.

    How the Old Craw convinced the eastern North Carolina scribe Farnell to share his proprietary power ratings unknown at this time. However a quick glimpse of such may give us insight into the nuance of picking playoff winners before we load up on the Super Bowl safety for the epic score.

    To wit they be:

       Buffalo     197     (5)

       San Francisco     191     (2.5)

       Cincinnati     185     (1)

       Los Angeles (A)     184     (A)

       Minnesota     181     (1.5)

       Miami     179

       Jacksonville     179     (-1)

       New York (N)     179     (N)

       Dallas     177

       Seattle     175

       Baltimore     170

       Tampa Bay     169     (1.5)

    The power ratings represent an abstract mathematical value assigned to each team representative of the outcome between any two squads in a head to head neutral field match up. These three digit proprietary numbers not designed to predict the final score, but to give us an indication of relative value with a bias toward offense and special teams, unlike college ball where we are focused on run stopping defence and the coaching programmes.

    The parenthetical number represents a relatively static value in terms of home field advantage (or in Jacksonville's case with a negative number, the home field disadvantage). Factors such as weather and crowd volume, combined with the host team's spread records, contribute to these operational values; contrarily, power ratings are all math.

    Georgia got the job done and we concluded the college campaign at 6-7 and ahead .1 unit. That is correct, the campaign winnings were one-tenth of a unit and we are pleased with the result. All about winning units and we have seen a handful of campaigns back in the day where we lost units. Whether your unit is a hundred American dollars or a million British pounds irrelevant to this point; each season more knowledge of the form obtained as the bankroll grows.

    We move forward to a month of NFL playoffs that will conclude with our "Yes, there will be a safety in the Super Bowl" move. It will pay anywhere from +700 to +900 depending upon your speculative venue. The more units we can acquire in the next three weekends, the more fuel for the +800 safety rocket we will launch with our last shot.

    Like a pilot flying instruments in a deep, blinding fog, we believe in our numbers. We will launch a three pick salvo for opening week with each call going three units. Counting the juice that is close to ten units being risked to establish field position, and if we catch all three we will shoot for the moon the distance.

    Enough theory, all systems green for go...

CHARGERS (-1) @ JAGUARS    Saturday 8.15 EST   NBC

GIANTS (-1) @ VIKINGS (-3)    Sunday 4.30 EST   FOX

RAVENS @ b(-6 and the hook) @ BENGALS   Sunday 8.15 EST   NBC

    These games are so heavily analyzed not much point in carrying on too much. The Ravens QB situation up in the air and that number could move depending on how such shakes out. The Six Kings (VIkings) game unlikely to move off of the key number of three. The Jags game most likely to move as once you get into pick/1 there can be a bit of movement until two and the hook either way. The Vikings playing indoors, Bengals and Jags venues are outside.

    We are passing on favourable match ups for the Cowboys and Bills. The numbers have always been against Brady on paper, but no way we go against him getting points at home in the playoffs even if this is it for him. The whole world loving the Bills now but two very emotional games in six days likely to have them flat; early professional action on the game has seen a bias toward the Dolphins.

    Our calls here are the CHARGERS (-1), VIKINGS (-3), and BENGALS (-6 and the hook) each for three units as you gotta be in it to win it. We want to build the NFL bankroll to the point where blowing it all on the Super Bowl safety and hitting it at +800 takes us to the Moon.

       CHARGERS     23     JAGS     16

       SIX KINGS     32 GIANTS     14

       BENGALS     27     RAVENS     10

    The value of not watching a single NFL regular season game and not even knowing the player's names is the lack of emotion involved in making selections. Avoiding that time sink also allows for more pleasant Sunday endeavours while permitting the algos to do the heavy lifting. As Bob Martin liked to opine from the Union Plaza, downtown Vegas, back in the day:

    "Always the numbers, 11 to 10 will take care of everything."
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