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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, August 5, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Sunday Night’s Dallas Cowboys/Miami Dolphins NFL exhibition game provided a helpful reminder to sports bettors of what Preseason football “looks” like and “feels” like when you’re trying to pick winners. There are challenges unique to the Preseason that Advanced Sports Bettors and Handicappers must keep in mind as they prepare to attack the first full week of action that beings this coming Thursday.

Among those keys:

*Turnovers can swing a game, and a total. It’s been generally true in recent years that most early Preseason games are Unders that will only go Over if there are cheap points off of turnovers. Dallas scored 14 very cheap points Sunday Night…with an interception return for a TD and a 9-yard TD drive after a Miami fumble. Take those points away, and it’s a completely different ball game. There are at least 14 points fewer on the scoreboard…and the second half is played at a much slower pace without Matt Moore returning to the field to engineer a two-minute drill.

It’s exceedingly difficult to “handicap” turnovers in exhibition games. But, it’s not hard at all to recognize after the fact what role they played. Be sure you make proper evaluations after each game so you have a true read on what might happen the next week. (It’s also true that special teams play can swing a side and total…we didn’t see this Sunday Night…but WE WILL!)

*It’s easier to drive the middle of the field than it is to jam the ball into the end zone when offenses are rusty and backups are on the field. Both the Cowboys and the Dolphins had success moving the ball when they were a long way from the end zone. Dallas was using its running backs. Miami was going with short passes. But…Preseason defenses are typically pretty vanilla…which means basic play calling will move the ball. That is…until the red zone! Defenses do kick things up a notch when they’re backs are to the wall…which is why Unders are so common early. Offenses run clock, then settle for a field goal (or miss their field goal attempt).

This means…when handicapping future games…be sure you pay attention to how teams have been “ending” their drives. You want to bet on teams who will reach paydirt because of experience at quarterback or a variety of weaponry. If both teams are going to run clock before sputtering, you want the Under.

*Quarterback rotations are HUGE! It didn’t hurt Dallas because they were gifted two easy touchdowns. But, they gave a lot of snaps to unheralded nobodies that most of you probably had never heard of. Typically, these guys will fail because of inaccurate passing or fumbles in the pocket. You’ve already had this pounded into your head…but it truly does bear repeating. Handicappers MUST know the planned quarterback rotations…and they must have an accurate read on how the backups in the second half are likely to fare. You won’t win every game with this knowledge, but you’ll win more than you’ll lose.

We have our first full slate of NFL action beginning Thursday. That gives you a few days to really pin down the following information:

*Which quarterbacks will be on the field this weekend, and how long will they be playing?

*What is the career experience level of the QB’s who will be playing in the second half?

*What are the head coaches prioritizing this year based on their discussions with the media?

*Which head coaches are focused on protecting their stars from injury?

*Which teams have PLAYMAKERS on special teams who could return a punt or kickoff for a TD?

If you’d like some help finding the best plays on the board this week or any week, you can purchase my top plays right here at this website with your major credit card. Be sure to check on my early-bird rates that offer the most bang for your buck. I also have daily baseball for those of you want to build your bankrolls daily through the summer.

I’ll be back later in the week for our next discussion. All the work you’ve been doing this summer is about to pay off through August, September, and beyond. If you’re late to the party, please read through the summer archives so you can get up to speed. There’s still time to get ready for college football, which kicks off over the last weekend of this month. Being cautious through the NFL Preseason is prudent anyway…so beginning your regular season NFL prep work today is still worth your time and effort. You should have started in June or July. Beginning in early August is better than beginning in late August!

Thanks again for your continuing attendance in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. The Dean of Sports Handicappers is gratified by the popularity of this internet feature, and the growing number of sports bettors who are learning the right way to play. Keep up your good work!

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