Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, November 2, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Before the season started I instructed you to pay close attention to what was happening with the five rooking quarterbacks who would begin the 2012 campaign as first teamers. I was pessimistic about the composite at the time…and I promised to update their progress as the season progressed on these pages.
Well, I have to say I’m stunned about what I’m going to report to you. I’ve been around this industry a long time. It takes something very special indeed to surprise KELSO STURGEON! As we speak, not a single one of those five rookie starters has a losing record against the Las Vegas pointspread this season!
And, even more surprising, the player getting the most press for great play actually has the worst of the five records!
Let’s run through them in order of ATS success.
SEATTLE: 5-3 ATS with RUSSELL WILSON
The Seahawks have lived up to their early season hype in betting circles this year, scoring home win/covers against preseason Super Bowl favorites New England and Green Bay, and generally impressing with their toughness. Wilson hasn’t exactly been an impact player outside of a couple of Hail Mary’s in those aforementioned upsets. But, he hasn’t been a big problem either in terms of turnovers or bad mistakes. He’s learning on the fly. He’s managing games. And, Seattle is finding ways to get the job around him in the same way San Francisco first did that with Alex Smith when Jim Harbaugh took over. Wilson is still undersized, but has the heart of a champion.
MIAMI: 4-3 ATS with RYAN TANNEHILL
I truly expected a disaster this year with the Dolphins as I discussed in videos and here in my College of Advanced Handicapping. What a pleasant surprise the Dolphins have turned out to be. The defense has been terrific. Tannehill has calmed down after a season-opening meltdown in Houston. You know, the AFC is so bad this year that Miami night sneak into the playoffs. Advanced Handicapping means analyzing a player, a team, or even a sport as it evolves before your eyes. The way I’ve changed my thinking about the Dolphins is a great example of that. Don’t be stubborn. Sometimes new starters or new head coaches will surprise you.
INDIANAPOLIS: 4-3 ATS with ANDREW LUCK
Luck sure looks like he has a great career ahead of him. I think both Indy and Miami are a bit fortunate that the AFC is having a down year. We have to be careful to recognize that some of the top teams are falling back this year in a way that creates the illusion of others stepping forward. Luck is covering spreads more often than he isn’t so far…and that’s what’s important to us.
CLEVELAND: 4-3-1 ATS with BRANDON WEEDEN
Another stunner to me…and another case of an AFC team enjoying the shallow waters of a disappointing conference. Tannehill and Weeden at 57% versus the spread near the midpoint of the season. Who’da thunk it? We have to give credit to oddsmakers for not giving away free points against the rookies early on…and credit to the rookies for keeping their heads on straight under fire.
WASHINGTON: 4-4 ATS with ROBERT GRIFFIN III
The player with the best stats and the best WOW factor is only 50/50 against the spread. You know why that is? He’s the only rookie quarterback playing well enough that the public might bet on him! Line value disappeared faster with Griffin than the others. Five rookies, not a single one with a losing spread record. Amazing.
Is this going to continue?
Well, as they like to say on ESPN…this is a developing story. These players are STILL evolving before our eyes. And, the markets are still adjusting to how well the teams as a whole are playing. Sharps are already betting Seattle and Miami with enthusiasm…and I know some guys who are pretty fond of Cleveland. The significant anti-RGIII sentiment you heard in Vegas before the season started has subsided with his fast start. The value that has existed enough to this point to push the composite into winning territory may not be there any more. The surprises have been sprung so to speak.
Here’s my current general plan of attack for each.
WILSON, SEATTLE: Look to play Unders against good defenses and in important games. Bet Seattle at value prices against struggling opponents. Don’t ask for too much from Wilson against quality opposing defenses (he couldn’t score at San Francisco).
TANNEHILL, MIAMI: I think Miami’s success right now has mostly been with their defense, and surprisingly good running game. I will back Miami as a defensive dog, looking at Unders in the process. I will back them at cheap prices vs. bad AFC opponents. I’m still not ready to ask Tannehill to go out and win a bet for me. I need him to stay out of the way so his teammates can win bets for me.
LUCK, INDIANAPOLIS: He’s faced an easy schedule. I believe Luck will still be turnover prone vs. good defenses. And, I’m not sold on the Colts as a true playoff caliber team despite their 4-3 record. The Colts haven’t impressed me very much defensively once you adjust for their schedule. I’m currently more enthusiastic about Seattle and Miami in value spots than I am Indianapolis.
WEEDEN, CLEVELAND: There’s still enough erratic play from Weeden that I’m not sold on his future, or his ability to cover spreads in the second half of the season. I’ll say this. I’m not as pessimistic as I used to be. I will pick Cleveland if I’m really against their opponent. I’m not particularly looking for spots to bet Cleveland right now unless a special set of circumstances is in play.
RGIII, WASHINGTON: The NFC is much tougher than the AFC this year, and the NFC East is a killer division. I’m interested to see how RGIII handles upcoming tests against Philadelphia (twice) and Dallas (twice) in the second half of the season. He did hold his own in a road cover against the Giants. Frankly, Washington’s defense has been playing so badly that I’m most interested in looking at Overs in games where weather or field conditions won’t be an issue (Griffin was victimized by several dropped passes last week in wet conditions on sloppy turf in Pittsburgh). I’d use RGIII’s status as a PLAYMAKER in that way until the defense proves I can trust them.
I have a great weekend of football planned for my clients. I’ve been absolutely ON FIRE with by big college blockbusters the past couple of months. Another one is on tap Saturday (after a bankroll builder Friday Night in Washington/California). Then something special is brewing Sunday in the NFL. Be sure you visit this website every day for big play bulletins. All major releases are available for credit card purchase (as are seasonal packages).
I’ll be back with you again Tuesday for our next class here in my College of Advanced Handicapping. Thanks again to all of you who have been working so hard to upgrade your personal sports betting strategies. It’s an honor to be The Dean of Sports Handicapping for such enthusiastic students!