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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, November 15, 2013 at 6:00 PM

As I was watching college and pro football last week, I was struck by how many teams have already thrown in the towel on their seasons. This was particularly striking in the colleges, where a lot of the really bad teams played even worse than the market had expected. But, even in the NFL, some players have tuned out their head coaches and are now just playing out the string.

This factor is something that serious handicappers need to play very close attention to. The last thing you want to do is invest in a losing team at a “value price” only to find out that the pointspread doesn’t matter when a losing team isn’t trying. And, you can score several very easy winners if you fade the lame duck coaches in the games where things are most likely to get away from them.

Now, I’m not going to go through here and list all the likely lame ducks for you. I need to protect that advantage for my clients. And, I can assure you that many of my 100-unit, 200-unit, and possibly even bigger plays will be using this factor as part of handicapping mix. The last thing I want to do is give oddsmakers a heads up about a specific game that I plan to attack. But, I will tell you what to look for and why this is important.

First, you need to remember the following:

*Stat handicappers can get nailed with very bad score projections when they don’t account for this factor. Teams who have thrown in the towel under a coach they’ve tuned out will play MUCH worse in November (and December in the NFL) than their stats from September and October would have suggested. If you rely mostly on statistics to make your bets…slow down and make sure you’re backing a team that cares. So many numbers guys last week made really bad bets!

*Trend and Angle handicappers can also fall into the same trap. It doesn’t matter if your team is historically “strong as a road dog” or “7-1 ATS in their last 8 games against this opponent.” Once a team has given up hope, they don’t play to past trends or past histories except maybe in their rivalry games. Situational stuff is trumped by a new situation! And, that new situation is that a losing team doesn’t care enough to fight any more.

With that warning about some your preferred approaches in mind, here’s the best way to find these lame duck teams.

*Look for losing teams who missed the spread by AT LEAST TWO TOUCHDOWNS last week. That’s a great sign right there that the team doesn’t care any more. Vegas already stacks the spread against losing teams. Any who missed expectations by a mile are strong candidates for a very poor finish.

*Look for losing teams who are coached by VETERAN coaches. Players know that first year guys are rarely fired that quickly into their contracts. And, even second-year guys have some leash left. But, when a cloud hangs over a college program or NFL franchise about a head coach who’s lost touch…then players will go in the tank because they’re hoping new blood will come into lead the team.

*Scour the wire services for news reports about coaches on the hot seat. Media coverage usually exacerbates this kind of problem. College administrations don’t like negative headlines because it hurts fund raising and recruiting. NFL front offices often curse a coach with a “vote of confidence” that just makes the players even madder. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire when it comes to likely lame duck head coaches in football.

I strongly encourage you to make a list of losing teams who struggled badly last week or the week before to reach market expectations. New teams will join that list this weekend, so you need to really stay on top of developments. Some coaches don’t even know they’re lame ducks yet! Then, do what you can to incorporate this knowledge into your selection-making process.

If you’d like some help finding the best plays on the college and pro football schedules (plus basketball!), you can always my top daily selections here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions can be answered by my representative in the home office at 1-888-777-4155. I have HUGE plans for this weekend. So, it’s a great time to try out my service if you’ve been thinking about it.

For all of you do-it-yourselfers who frequently attend these sessions of my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping, I hope you’ll print out today’s lesson as you continue building a textbook you can use for years to come. The theme will apply to college and pro basketball in a matter of months. And, it’s even something you can use in baseball. This dynamic is universal in the world of sports…and there will always be coaches who lose their teams because they’re in over their heads as a head man, or because the game evolves and eventually passes them by.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping appreciates your attendance and hard work. I look forward to seeing you again on these page very soon.

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