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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 3:00 PM

I have to tell you that the buzz in Las Vegas about this Sunday’s AFC and NFC Conference Championship games is something to behold. Both New England/Denver and San Francisco/Seattle are already extremely heavily bet games…and the weekend hasn’t even arrived! Sportsbooks are going to have tremendous handles on both games. Neither showdown will match the Super Bowl because EVERYONE bets the Super Bowl even if they don’t follow football. But, it’s like we have two-mini Super Bowls that are creating massive interest.

*Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning always gets a lot of attention here in Vegas. Many “squares” bet on both guys whenever they take the field…and are torn about what to do when they face each other. Right now, the bulk of square money is coming in on Brady and the Pats. That’s because Brady has had a lot more success head-to-head in the rivalry. And, because many squares see this game as a toss-up and would rather take the points. Normally squares bet favorites. When Brady is getting points from Manning, squares want Brady.

*San Francisco is basically a “local” team here in Las Vegas, along with Oakland. The Bay Area teams are the closest NFL teams geographically to Vegas. If you’ve ever attended a sportsbook on an NFL Sunday, you’ve seen a lot of 49ers and Raiders watching the big screens and rooting their teams on. That happens when those teams aren’t any good! When one is a Super Bowl contender (which we’ve seen often if you go back over the years I’ve lived in Las Vegas), then the city is electric during the playoffs.

*Seattle has been a very popular betting team with sharps since the middle of last season. Many Wise Guys got on the bandwagon at the right time, and have been supporting this team in market terms ever since. Oddsmakers did make an adjustment, which has calmed down the fire somewhat. But, there are still many sharps who think Seattle is the best team in the NFL…and is best positioned to win the Super Bowl (particularly if it’s played in cold or windy weather). And, they bet that opinion with futures money many weeks ago.

So…in local betting terms…one game features the best quarterback rivalry of our lifetimes…featuring the most hyped quarterbacks of the past decade in the media. The other features an extremely popular “local” team facing a team that’s popular with the sharps. WOW!

How should YOU students in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping approach things? I can’t tell you who I’m personally betting in these games. I will emphasize again our fundamentals and how they apply to this weekend:

 

PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS

Both teams have great players on both sides of the ball. I believe the most important factor in the AFC is whether or not the absence of Rob Gronkowski can be overcome by the Patriots. Is he such a huge PLAYMAKER that they can’t win on the road in Denver without him? Or, are the remaining weapons enough to get the job done. I think if you answer that question, the game picks itself.

Over in the NFC, it might be the running ability of the quarterbacks that will make the difference. I believe that this game will swing on a play where one of the two young stars will throw a pass that shouldn’t have been thrown…or will scramble out of a tackle that should have been made to extend a key drive. Can you make a determination on that?

 

THE MOTIVATION FACTOR

Generally speaking, this is less important in a championship game because everybody is obviously at peak motivation. There’s no way any of the four teams is going to be “flat” emotionally for this game. But, the following intangible issues could come into play:

*Tom Brady lifts his game as an underdog

*Peyton Manning falls apart again in a big game

*San Francisco maintains its “us against the world” mentality

*Seattle shows they still haven’t learned how to “win a big one”

If you’re picking the favorites, you have to be sure that Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson are going to get the job done for you…and can protect leads that are greater than the Vegas pointspread in the fourth quarter. If you’re picking the underdogs, you have to worry about New England scoring enough without Gronkowski, or Colin Kaepernick’s past poor history at Seattle’s very loud stadium.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping will be posting my selections this weekend here at this very website. You can purchase them with your major credit card well in advance of the first kickoff. I also encourage you to check out my basketball offers. My coursework here online is aimed at helping do-it-yourselfers improve their performance. If you’re having trouble in football or basketball, my BEST BETS are always just a few clicks away.

If you have questions about this weekend or long term packages, talk to one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters home office at 1-888-777-4155.

We’ll go back to college basketball in our next report that goes up early next week. My next football report will run during Super Bowl week. If you’ve never experienced a Super Bowl here in Las Vegas, I strongly encourage you to put that on your bucket list. Outside of the host city, this is the only place to be! See you again next week.

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