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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 8:10 PM

It’s become a dominant theme of this 2012 season that the media is in constant surprise about developments in college and pro football. If I started to list teams and situations where this is true, today’s lecture in my College of Advanced Handicapping would turn into a novel.

We don’t have time for that…but if you did a quick review of Preseason college football rankings, or what all of those newsstand annuals were saying about the NFL…you’d see very quickly what I meant. Sure, there are a few teams who are living up or down to their billing (Alabama is still #1, for now…while the inexperienced Cleveland Browns are 0-5). The number of surprises outnumbers the amount of “par for the course” stuff by a factor of 10.

Here’s why:

*The media pays way to much attention to what happened last year, or to recent history, when making its offseason assessments. This team “always” finds a win. That team “doesn’t rebuild, they reload.” If you have a good coach, everything else “falls into place.”

Well, my effort in recent years to focus on PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS has helped me see how foolish that is. If a team loses its playmakers, particularly in college, and DOESN’T replace them…they’re going to fall off the map. You can’t just assume that Wisconsin is going to be fine even though Russell Wilson went to the NFL. What’s happened to Auburn since Cam Newton left? High impact players can be worth 10-14 points in the Power Ratings if they’re replaced by somebody who’s below average.

Good college teams aren’t always able to reload. Sometimes they get complacent. Sometimes the scouting services have mis-evaluated newcomers from high school. Sometimes weaponry within a certain system stops working when defenses make adjustments to that system. Basing your opinions on what happened last year or recently will have you in a state of constant surprise. Properly evaluating the talent and number of PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS will put you way ahead of the media, and oddsmakers who are overly influenced by the media.

In the NFL, success in one year is often connected to luck (good health, turnover differential, soft schedules) rather than true talent. The media doesn’t believe in luck, so they get behind the wheels of a bandwagon then drive it into a ditch.

*The media spends too much time building “storylines” about what they want to market, and not enough time understanding what’s actually happening on the field. This may be the single biggest thing I can exploit with Advanced Handicapping because Vegas lines are so strongly influenced by these storylines.

Too many teams are overrated because the media wants you to tune into telecasts involving those teams throughout the season. Again, if I started listing examples from this year we’d go on all day. ESPN has a lot invested in Big Ten football, they don’t want to tell you how bad things have gotten in the Midwest. ESPN will be showing a lot of LSU this year. They don’t want to dwell on what’s happened to that offense. Pick any conference, and you’ll find examples of teams who are overhyped because a TV network has advertising inventory to sell. And, don’t even get me started on Tim Tebow and the NY Jets. That whole thing may go down in history as one of the most embarrassing debacles for an NFL franchise and a TV network hoping to piggyback on somebody’s popularity.

Now, I’m not suggesting that ESPN makes the pointspreads. But, you know what? ESPN creates expectations…and expectations strongly influence pointspreads. If everyone thinks USC is going to be a superpower, then the pointspreads have to reflect that or action will be very one-sided at the counter. If more than half of all major pundits are saying the Philadelphia Eagles are going to win the NFC…then that team better be priced like a Super Bowl entry or sportsbook exposure will be too great.

That creates this set of strategies that have helped build the monster 2012 I’m enjoying:

*Look for off-the-radar teams who have PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS because the lines aren’t stacked against them. Teams like Fresno State or Louisiana-Monroe to name a couple from my recent list of big play bombshells. They’ve covered spreads easily for me in blowout fashion. It’s the non-media teams who will offer the most line value on favorites.

*Look for high profile college teams who have lost studs from the prior season so you can fade them. This will become a bigger influence for me over these last two months when major names play tough league schedules. A program can hide blemishes against an easy September schedule. We’ll be exploiting those problem areas often in the second half of the season I can assure you.  

*Look for NFL teams who are trending downward because their luck has run out. I’m not going to make a list because this very factor is behind a few of my planned releases this weekend. Just compare the current standings with last year’s standings and you’ll have a sense of who I’m talking about.

*Look for non-TV teams who are very poorly coached so you can attack them continually. ESPN and the other networks don’t like dwelling on disasters because it doesn’t help them hype future telecasts. Bad teams aren’t going to be on TV much anyway. National networks want “feel good” stories that help promote the sport. Be sure you do your research with local media coverage on the internet for a better read on bad coaching. Local media blasts bad coaching, the networks rarely do.

I hope you read my article about coaches on the hot seat that was posted at this website a couple of days ago. Exploiting bad coaches has been particularly profitable this season at both the college and pro levels.

I’ll be back with you on Tuesday for our next class here in my College of Advanced Handicapping. If you’re having trouble finding games to bet in Las Vegas on your own this weekend, you can purchase my best games online with your major credit card for a very affordable price.

Remember that the media is constantly misdirecting the markets…which makes the fundamentals of Advanced Handicapping that much more powerful.

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