Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, November 24, 2014 at 4:00 PM
Thanksgiving Week football can be very tricky for handicappers because many teams don’t play to their usual form. Some will play their worst games of the season this week because there’s nothing to play for and it’s no fun having to endure another loss around a big family holiday. Some teams will play their best games of the season because they get sky high for a rival, or because they well-positioned to take advantage of a towel-tosser.
And, I must throw in the fact that weather is often an issue on a late-November weekend, which can throw a monkey wrench into the best laid handicapping plans. Your PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS can’t play to their fullest in snow, wind, or wet field conditions.
The first thing you must do when handicapping each Thanksgiving Week football game is to figure out what’s at stake for each team. I’m talking about:
*College Conference races
*NFL Playoff races
*Saving an embattled coach’s job
*Revenge against a rival from a previous loss
Obviously, a handful of college teams are also focused on qualifying for the national championship tournament. That’s obviously huge for those teams. But, this is a week where THE MOTIVATION FACTOR is a big deal up and down the card. You may find a 2-9 team that’s super-motivated at home in a revenge spot against a 4-7 team…and they’ll offer much more pointspread value than a national contender nervously trying to protect its spot against a high pointspread. It’s your job to find value and exploit it.
Students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping owe it to themselves to really work through what’s at stake in every single matchup. Oddsmakers are tossing numbers down based on Power Ratings or computer ratings. In many off-the-radar matchups, those won’t come close to representing the true best expectations in a game.
Your homework for the next few days…
*Know the standings inside and out!
There’s a tendency for many sports bettors to lose track of the standings. They’re focused on their own methodologies for evaluating teams…and straight up won-lost record can slide out of focus because you’re thinking about who’s going to cover rather than the ramifications of a victory. As soon as you finish reading today’s lecture, head over to your favorite sports news site to study college and NFL standings. Then, using your copy of the Nevada Rotation, or a schedule you print out yourself, write down the won-lost records for every team in matchup order. You can’t handicap this week without knowing what the games mean to the players!
*Know who has REVENGE!
Go look up the scores from last year’s meetings in college football, particularly the rivalry games (revenge matters more in huge college rivalries than at any other time). In the NFL, look at what’s happened in early meetings between Tennessee and Houston and Denver and Kansas City. (Note that Turkey Day divisional games matching Chicago/Detroit, Philadelphia/Dallas, and Seattle/San Francisco; as well as Monday Night’s Miami/NY Jets game are all “first meetings” in the 2014 season).
Now, I’m not saying that you should go out and bet all revenge teams. Use you initial list to try and pare down to the very best revenge scenarios. Who’s MOST motivated to make up for a past loss, and who has the resources to do something about it (or who’s facing a team that doesn’t have the resources to stop them)? Pay particular attention to when a superior team has revenge, particularly if they were embarrassed as the superior team in the last meeting.
*Know who just played an exhausting game the prior week!
That’s right…you have to go review last week’s results and boxscores too. Nobody said picking winners wasn’t hard work! It’s very tough to play at a peak level two weeks in a row late in the season. The general public makes the mistake of assuming that “momentum” is going to hold true for a hot team. It’s more common to see regression or a letdown off a big win, particularly if it was a physically grueling battle against a top team. There will be occurrences too where a short week of preparation inhibits the ability to sustain excellence (for teams playing on Thursday or Friday).
Hopefully you’re reading this on a Monday or a Tuesday…which gives you plenty of lead time until the holiday football starts later in the week. If you’re concerned that you won’t be able to complete your homework in time, you can purchase my game day BEST BETS right here at this very website with your major credit card all through the holiday weekend. Questions about “rest of football” packages and combination packages with basketball can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155.
Let the Dean of Sports Handicapping be the first to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Be sure you carve out some time to spend with the people who are most important in your lives. It’s a great football weekend to be sure. But, life isn’t all football. There’s also basketball! But, seriously, you’ll be a true winner if you find success and share it with your loved ones. See you again later this for more football discussion.
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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon
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