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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, August 10, 2012 at 12:50 PM

One of the biggest keys to mastering Advanced Handicapping is learning how to isolate the PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS who determine which team is going to cover a Las Vegas pointspread. I’ve talked about that with you often, and will continue to pound that point home with you as long as I see losing gamblers bet on teams who don’t have any impact players!

Too many bettors see “value” as variations of “well, that line seems a little high, I’d better take the dog.” Listen, you’d better take the team that’s much better suited to break the game open and cover your spread. Sometimes that’s the dog. Sometimes that’s the favorite who’s enjoying a very cheap price.

What makes NFL Preseason handicapping so unique and so challenging is that the PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS are often second and third string players. This doesn’t happen in any other sport. And, it really only happens in football during the exhibition slate, or in rare instances where a team has two really good quarterbacks and either one can come in and make plays in a regular season game.

In the Preseason, there are some #2 and #3 quarterbacks who will look like superstars when facing second or third string defenses. Put them on the field under an aggressive head coach, and surround them with enthusiastic players who are trying to win a job…and you’re going to see some big numbers go up on the board. And, since the true stars of the team play so little in August because everyone’s trying to stay healthy, it’s THESE backups who are your PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS.

The best examples of what I’m talking about:

*Veteran backup quarterbacks who are either trying to earn the starting job, trying to inspire a trade to a better situation, or who play in high octane systems for coaches who like to see points on the board. This type of quarterback will often “win” their session on the field by 10-14 points, and will occasionally blow a game wide open through the second and third quarters. Vegas posts very small numbers in Preseason games. These quarterbacks COVER SPREADS, which is the most important thing to remember.

*Young receivers with fresh legs who are trying to win a job. Obviously, the veterans are trying to save themselves for the regular season. Nobody wants to pull a hamstring in a meaningless August sprint. But, receiving corps are deep now, and there are always some young guys who know they need to make a play. That’s what I’m looking for. Some of these guys also get to return kicks on special teams. I watch punt and kickoff returns very closely during the first week of the Preseason to see which guys are capable of going the distance in later August action. I’m not exaggerating when I say that literally ONE GUY can cover two Preseason games by himself if he can just get the ball in his hands. I could list multiple examples over the last 20 years.

*Young workhorse running backs who will determine second half flow. This might be a rookie trying to win a job, or a relatively young veteran trying to stay in the league. Anyone who can grind out 4-5 yards per play with breakout potential is valuable in August because they can score points or protect leads. Sometimes coaches will fall in love with this kind of back in exhibition games because he can run clock, get the game over with, and keep other stars in danger. This type of back can be a GAMEBREAKER and a GAME CLINCHER.

As you watch the games on TV this weekend, and hopefully all the replays on the NFL Network (if you’re serious about making money in the Preseason, you HAVE to watch as many games as possible!), be sure you’re looking for these kinds of August PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS. Read through all the boxscores too to look at who’s scoring touchdowns and which receivers and running backs are getting the ball in their hands most often.

I’m not going to suggest to you that there are 20-30 backups who will be out there running roughshod over the league. Too many coaches are playing it safe for that. But, there ARE some players who matter a lot…and you need to know who those guys are and where they’re playing each week. Advanced Handicapping means being picky and focusing on the very best edges. You can apply the standard PLAYMAKER and GAMEBREAKER approach to the NFL Preseason in a way that isolates a few outstanding plays per weekend.  

If you’re having trouble finding spots to be aggressive so far, you can sign up for my personal service here at the website. Major credit cards are accepted for my Preseason or full season football packages. Be sure to check on baseball too. My recent run on major releases has already financed the full football season and some for many of my clients.

I’ll be back with you on Tuesday to talk more football. The colleges will be starting before you know it. We have a lot to discuss and review as we build our way to the scheduling onslaught that September always brings. Thanks very much for being an enthusiastic and active student here at my College of Advanced Handicapping. It’s gratifying to know that so many of you are with us for every single class.

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