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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, November 21, 2011 at 10:39 PM

With Thanksgiving coming up imminently, I wanted to review some of my Advanced Handicapping strategies for holiday football. Analysts really only deal with holidays in this sport on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. But, the holidays do throw enough of a monkey wrench into traditional methods that you need to make the proper adjustments.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you should stop counting up the gamebreakers on each team, or throw most of your proven techniques out the window. Just bear in mind following:

*You’re not always going to get peak intensity and performance on or near a holiday. Teams playing meaningless games often barely show up with any enthusiasm at all. Those are generally:

Losing NFL teams playing on Thanksgiving

Losing NFL teams playing during Christmas Week

Teams who are disappointed in their Dec. 31st Bowl

Losing NFL teams, or teams who have already clinched their playoff spot during New Year’s Week.

This year, NFL Week 16 falls during Christmas (with most everyone playing on Saturday, December 24th), and Week 17 falls directly on New Year’s Day. Those will present very serious handicapping challenges to oddsmakers and bettors alike. I’ll talk more about those challenges when they get closer on the schedule.

The good news this year for Thanksgiving is that the only losing team on the schedule is Miami (who visits Dallas). We’re not likely to see a Detroit tank job this year! The Lions are finally pretty good.

*You’re not always going to get peak intensity and performance (and will often get no intensity and horrible performance) from ROAD teams near a holiday. Players and coaches HATE being away from loved ones near a holiday. They know they’re professionals and have to do their jobs. But, preparation is a challenge (particularly in the short week leading into Thanksgiving). That means:

---Green Bay could at least get caught a little flatfooted in an early start in Detroit this week.

---Miami may lose their fight away from home the week after a blowout win over a divisional rival (and Miami over Buffalo was my 100-unit AFC Game of the Year you’ll recall).

---San Francisco may not be breathing fire after travelling cross country a few days after a divisional win that virtually locked up the divisional title already.

If your normal indicators are suggesting a road team in the NFL on Thursday, do your best to comb local media coverage to make sure you’re going to get a full-game effort. I could well be investing in road teams come Thursday…but you can rest assured that I’ll have double and triple checked everything.

*You WILL normally get peak intensity in any college rivalry game that’s played on Thanksgiving. That’s Texas at Texas A&M this year…and has been Ole Miss-Mississippi State in other seasons. I will generally prefer the dog in rivalry games…but I have to admit I’m concerned about the sluggish Texas offense the past two weeks. I’m glad I have more time to think about that one.

*The final point I want to make regarding holiday handicapping is that OVER/UNDERS will sometimes offer incredible value. I’m not one to encourage forcing plays when the lines are tight. Too many holiday bettors force a lean on a TV team side when the right play was on the total. If you have two enthusiastic teams, they will play to their strengths and beat the number by at least 10-14 points (offensive teams will play a shootout, defensive teams will play a 16-13 slugfest). Put offensive teams indoors, and the sky’s the limit. Put defensive teams in cold, windy outdoor conditions…and few plays will reach the end zone. Be sure you think about TOTALS BETS this Thursday…and then again over Christmas and New Year’s.

My annual TURKEY SHOOT is available for purchase right here at this website. I’ll have major releases going every day this weekend. If you’re travelling later this week, day-by-day portions from my FOOTBALL FEAST can be purchased ala carte. You get the most bird for your buck by signing up ahead of time for the full TURKEY SHOOT.

It’s already been a NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER for my clients, and we have plenty of marquee features still to come in the next week.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone the happiest of Thanksgivings. I’ll be back for my next College of Advanced Handicapping report after the holiday on Friday. Be sure to check the home page of this website for video updates regarding major releases that have popped up on the card. It’s amazing how often in the past few weeks that I’ve upgraded the size of plays because of bad numbers on the board in Las Vegas. You’ve seen the results yourself. I expect you’ll keep reading about big winners from Kelso Sturgeon throughout the remainder of the football season

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