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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, August 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

The first game of the 2014 NFL Preseason is in the books, and the New York Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills 17-13 in a relatively entertaining affair that many of you probably watched on TV.

I can tell you that the sportsbooks here in Las Vegas were happy with that result. The Bills had been bet heavily, particularly by sharps. Buffalo opened at pick-em, and went as high as -3.5 at one point because of the general perception that Buffalo’s backup quarterbacks were likely to be much more productive than New York’s backup quarterbacks.

So much for perceptions!

And, that brings us to today’s topic…here’s what you regulars should have been reminded of Sunday Night…and what you newcomers to my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping need to learn.

*First, there’s not much margin for error in an exhibition game. The NFL is mostly a league of parity…and the Preseason mostly consists of vanilla gameplans (outside the dress rehearsal games in the third full week)…so you’re trying to handicap vanilla parity in exhibition games! In a depressingly large number of matchups, it’s going to be a couple of key plays here and there that determine who wins straight up and/or covers the spread.

Turnovers are pretty random in the Preseason. All backups will make some bad passes. It’s impossible to know if the defenders will hold onto the ball or not. Note that both Buffalo backups, Jeff Tuel and Thaddeus Lewis, threw interceptions. None of the Giants backups did. That helped the Giants win the turnover category 2-1. Turnovers are typically worth about four points in the big picture, which was New York’s final margin of victory.

Also, long TD plays are random. You never know when a defensive breakdown will lead to a long gamebreaking score. Usually, NEITHER team gets one of those. Sunday Night, the Giants popped a 73-yard TD pass from Ryan Nassib to Corey Washington early in the fourth quarter for what proved to be the game winner. I can assure you that most every sharp in Vegas would have picked Nassib LAST on the list of guys most likely to have a long TD pass or run in that game. Those plays just happen in the Preaseason.

*Secondly, this nature of Preseason handicapping makes it clear that many of the betting opportunities are either true coin flips…or so close to being true coin flips that there’s not much betting value. This is not the time to be action-minded if you’re serious about making money or being a winning gambler. Only degenerates are action-minded in the NFL Preseason! Patiently look for edges, beginning with an understanding that truly large edges will be rare. Bet conservatively if you’re betting at all…because the point of August is to BUILD your bankroll for the regular season rather than diminish it.

*Thirdly, your respect for the best in the market must be tempered by the fact that even professional wagerers are at the mercy of what we just talked about. Normally, you see a football line move from pick-em to -3.5…and it must be because a superstar was a late scratch. Here, many Vegas sharps fell too much in love with the QB potential in Buffalo…and placed too much weight on negative news reports about the Giants struggling to adjust to their new West Coast offense. It may have looked like “somebody knew something.” Did they?

KELSO STURGEON has a lot of successful NFL Preseasons under his belt. And, that’s because The Dean of Sports Handicapping has learned over several decades of sports betting what works and what doesn’t work. I’ll be happy to guide you through the August minefield if you’d like assistance during the exhibition slate. You can purchase daily Best Bets or the full Preseason package right here at this very website with your credit card. If you have any questions about football or baseball, please talk to one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155.

I’ll be back again later this week with more coursework and discussion. Based on today’s material, you should spend the next few days really thinking through what your typical weekly outlay should be in terms of number of picks and percentage of bankroll. If you “love” 15 sides and totals this first full weekend…you’re too easily swayed! Set parameters. Then, trim a little bit off those because your first estimate will probably still be too aggressive. It is possible to beat Vegas in the Preseason…even “probable” if you’re doing it right.

Sunday Night’s Giants/Bills game was a reminder of why caution is advised when dealing with vanilla in a league of parity. Save your biggest scoops for when there’s more flavor!

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