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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 12:00 AM

Early Money Shows For Bills Against Giants
With 1st NFL Pre-Season Game 5 Days Away

Defending Champion Florida State Officially
17.5-Point Favorite Over Oklahoma State
As Highlight Of 77 Opening Weekend Games


By Kelso Sturgeon

The first of 65 National Football League pre-season games is just five days away and the early money has made the Buffalo Bills a 2-point favorite over the New York Giants in Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game from Canton Ohio. The game opened as a pick’em affair. The total remains at its opening of 32.5.

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Handicappers have to deal with the idiosyncrasies of the pre-season but those quirks not only present new challenges but offer a few edges unavailable during the regular season.  While I have not yet decided which way I will go, or what unit rating I will give the Giants and the Bills, here are some of the things I will consider to make a choice.

I know I will pay attention to the early money move.

Coaches have a record of how they deal pre-season games and it can mean something.  For instance Buffalo coach Doug Marrone went 2-2 in his first pre-season and the Bills won the first game of his initial season. The Giants coach, Tom Coughlin, has a 19-21 pre-season record with the team and saw the New Yorkers go 1-3 last year. In the first pre-season game of his 10 years in New York, he has a 5-5 record.

Every quarterback rotation is an extremely important factor in the August handicapping equation. How long each quarterback on the roster will play in each game speaks volumes and increases with importance in games “2 and “3.

For the record, here is the quarterback depth chart of both Buffalo and the Giants.

For the Bills

  1. E.J. Manuel
  2. Thad Lewis
  3. Jeff Tuel
  4. Dennis Dixon

For the Giants

  1. Eli Manning
  2. Curtis Painter
  3. Ryan Nassib

Since the number one quarterback will play just a few plays, one must decide who has the best backups, determine how long each will play and give a lot of weight of this element of the process.

Colleges Begin Practice Friday
And With That Comes Official Opening Betting Lines

In analyzing the prospects of all 128 NCAA Division 1 I concluded that are many very good teams and that bettors are going to have big edges for the first month of the season using some of these unrecognized power teams. It also is of note I will again be kicking off my season with my traditional 100-unit College Kickoff Game of the Year. I have already picked that team and predict it will win by 40-45 points.
The 100-unit game goes to all Best Bets Football Investment Club members.

Official Opening College Football Lines

(Home Teams In CAPs. Neutral Site Games Noted With *)

Thursday, August 28
SOUTH CAROLINA -11 over Texas A&M
Wake Forest over UL-Monroe
TULSA -4 over Tulane
*Mississippi -10 over Boise State (Ga. Dome, Atlanta)
VANDERBILT -16.5 over Temple
WASHINGTON STATE -9.5 over Rutgers (CenturyLink Field, Seattle)

Friday, August 29
Bowling Green -7 over WESTERN KENTUCKY
*Colorado -3 over Colorado State (Sports Authority Field, Denver)
HOUSTON -12.5 over Texas-San Antonio

Saturday, August 30
*Penn State Pick’em vs. Central Florida (Dublin, Ireland)
Ohio State -17 over NAVY
MICHIGAN -34.5 over Appalachian State
UAB Pick’em vs. Troy
NORTHWESTERN -12 over California
N.C. STATE -23 over Georgia Southern
NEBRASKA -23.5 over Florida Atlantic
Boston College -14.5 over MASSACHUSETTS
Marshall -24 over MIAMI-OH
NOTRE DAME -24 over Rice
*Alabama -26.5 over West Virginia (Ga. Dome, Atlanta)
AUBURN -21.5 over Arkansas
GEORGIA -8 over Clemson
KENT STATE -3 over Ohio
OKLAHOMA -38 over Louisiana Tech
PURDUE -12.5 over Western Michigan
FLORIDA -343.5 over Idaho
USC -22 over Fresno State
MISSISSIPPI STATE -29 over Southern Miss
Washington -19.5 over HAWAII
*Florida State -17.5 over Oklahoma State (AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX)
TEXAS -24 over North Texas
NEW MEXICO -7.5 over Texas-El Paso
*LSU -4.5 over Wisconsin (NRG Stadium, Houston)

Sunday, August 31
TENNESSEE -6.5 over Utah State
BAYLOR -31.5 over SMU

Monday, September 1
LOUISVILLE -2.5 over Miami

77 College Games On Opening Weekend

Opening lines have been posted on NCAA I-A matchups but that is not all the games on which betting will be conducted. In total, 77 games will be played the first week of the season and 33 of them are so-called “extra” games on which lines will be offered later.

The college season actually begins Wednesday, August 27, when Abilene Christian takes on Georgia State in Atlanta in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

Some of the “extra” games present interesting matchups—such as defending I-AA champion North Dakota State at Iowa State (N.D. State upset Kansas State 24-21 in its opener last season) and always powerful Northern Iowa at Iowa.

NFL Training Camp Notes

  • Rookie quarterback Terry Bridgewater (Louisville) is neck-and-neck with veteran Matt Cassel in the battle for the starting role with the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota coaches are stunned at how good is Bridgewater.
  • The Cleveland Browns—one of the worst franchises in the NFL—keeps telling the press veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer will be the starting quarterback this season but can’t seem to explain how the offense is being altered to accommodate rookie Johnny Manziel. Whether that move is for better or worse will answer to time.
  • The New York Giants new quarterbacks coach says he wants Eli Manning to complete 70% of his passes this season, and that is a somewhat ridiculous goal. Manning has completed an average of 58.5% of his passes during his career and the best year he ever had he reported in at 61.9%. When I say ridiculous, I mean just that in the purest sense of the word. Only three quarterbacks in NFL history ever hit that level in a 16-game season—Joe Montana (70.2%) in 1989, Steve Young (70.3%) in 1994 and Drew Brees (70.6%) in 2009 and 71.2% in 2011.

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