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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Week 11 of the NFL season kicks off Thursday Night when the Buffalo Bills visit the Miami Dolphins. You’ve already been hearing it…but you can get ready for A LOT MORE talk in the coming weeks about how the playoff picture is shaping up. The media loves stuff like that because it makes so many games seem important. For handicappers, and for many NFL players, it’s just a distraction that can get in the way of performance.

You regular readers know I believe THE MOTIVATION FACTOR is very important in football. We talked about that last time regarding bowl eligibility in the colleges. In the NFL, teams are given credit for this far more often than is justified. Every game may seem like a must-win affair to the media. Players just don’t have the mental energy to treat it that way though. They wear down and burn out.

Here are some keys to remember:

*If a team is playing a must-win game in mid or late November, they can’t be all that great in the first place. Something has been getting in the way of achievement. Don’t bet on a team like this unless there are extenuating circumstances (a previously injured team just got healthy, a previously flat team should bounce back strong this week, the opponent is dealing with injuries at key positions, etc.)

*Teams still prioritize divisional rivalry games first, conference games second, and non-conference games third. That’s how tie-breakers work. And, of course, if you win your divisional games you’re probably going to reach the postseason. Don’t give any bonus points in your handicapping for “playoff need” if a team is coming off a huge rivalry game and has another one on deck.

*If the public spends too much time listening to the media, and starts betting based on playoff need…then there will be points in the line that don’t belong there! You should be going the other way not taking the worst of it in the number. Imagine there’s a team that “should” be a 6-point favorite based on Power Ratings and stats, but is laying -8 because the public has bought the “playoff need” angle. The worst thing you could do is lay -8 and hope that motivation shows up. The game crossed the key number of seven. The dog +8 is the smarter play because the motivation angle may be a mirage in the first place. Free points are real!

Kelso Sturgeon’s top NFL bets feature:

*Advantages in the area of PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS

*Virtual certainty of a meaningful edge in THE MOTIVATION FACTOR

*Clear line value based on real expectations vs. a bad number

*The healthier of the two teams typically

*The fresher of the two teams typically (physically and mentally)

That’s a great checklist you should be following for your own action.

With that and today’s topic in mind, I think you should spend some time today reviewing the remaining schedules for everyone still technically in playoff contention. Even though that’s a lot of teams, it will only take a few minutes because schedules are easily available online. If you still have your summer preview magazines laying around, grab those and a pen.

*Circle what are obviously the top priority games because of rivalry or impact

*Put a big X by any game that represents a letdown spot or a sandwich spot

*Put a big X by any game where a team is playing outside its normal climate

On the latter, I mean any southern or dome team having to play outdoors up north…or any outdoors team up north having to play in a dome or in a warm weather city. Comfort zone matters a lot late in a season. You want all the stars aligned for your best plays.

This will position you very well for the challenges moving forward. Maybe only a couple of examples will matter this weekend. But, you’ve now mapped out the landscape for the rest of the season. That by itself will help you recognize media hype when you hear it. And, you’ll have proper perspective for the playoff chase as it unfolds. Let the market overreact!

I’m very excited about this coming college and pro football weekend. You longtime customers know that I really step out with big plays at this time of year because our advantages magnify to create colossal edges. I’ll be talking about games where the superior team has a 100% chance of winning straight up, and a 90% chance of covering the spread because oddsmakers just can’t put the right number on certain types of blowouts. I’ll also find some underdog bets where the team getting points has about a 60% chance of winning outright, and 75-80% chance of covering the spread. The history books make that clear.

If you’d like some help finding the best bets on the board each and every day,  my BEST BETS can always be purchased right here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions about full season packages can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to ask about combination packages that include football and basketball.

Speaking of basketball, my first college hoops coursework of the new season will be presented on Monday. That will get you ready for that huge TV extravaganza next Tuesday that includes Duke vs. Michigan State and Kansas vs. Kentucky. The Dean of Sports Handicapping LOVES the month of November!


Be sure to follow:

Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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