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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 1:00 PM

The most important weekend of the NFL Preseason begins Friday night with the first of the dress rehearsals. These 16 matchups Friday through Sunday will provide the closest approximation to regular season football we’ll experience until the real deal arrives after Labor Day. That’s important for many reasons. Among them:

*You can test your handicapping vs. real world dynamics

*You can test the TEAMS vs. real world dynamics

As much as I love picking winners…and I certainly plan to do plenty of that this weekend…I’m aware that the dress rehearsals are vital for LEARNING about all 32 teams as they gear up for the 2015 season. Don’t just make some picks and root for your bets. All students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping should treat this weekend as one long HOMEWORK session for team evaluation. Watch as many games as you can. Read all the boxscores. Pay particular attention to how new head coaches and starting quarterbacks are performing in these real world simulations.

Since I know you’re focused right now on making picks, here are some tips…



Most teams will have their starters on the field for something approximating three quarters. You’ve probably noticed that this week’s pointspreads are generally in line with that “three-fourths of a game” guideline. We don’t have any huge favorites as we would in the regular season. But…the lines are staggered in a way that match computer ratings over about three quarters (except for Philadelphia at Green Bay where market indicators are suggesting the Eagles are more focused on getting a result this week than the shell-shocked Packers).

With all this in mind, our traditional focus on PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS will serve you well. Look for teams who can establish a meaningful scoreboard advantage with their most important threats in a three-quarter context. Since so many games are close to pick-em or a field goal…some great opportunities have arisen. THE MOTIVATION FACTOR really only comes into play for coaches who have made it clear that they’re NOT treating this like a full dress rehearsal. Motivation will cancel out in most meetings. The “lack of motivation” might matter in a few.

You’ll have to do a dramatic reversal in terms of evaluating backup quarterbacks. They’ve been a priority in the first two weeks. Now, you should only worry about backup QB’s if the starters are so evenly matched they’re going to “cancel out” so to speak. If you see the starting QB battle as a dead heat…then an advantage with the backup will probably be the difference-maker straight up and against the spread in the fourth quarter. You know the backups well enough by now. If you see a fourth quarter mismatch brewing, it’s okay to step in for a value bet.



Try to spend some time before the first Friday night kickoffs evaluating how every head coach has dealt with dress rehearsals in the past. Review last year’s results (remembering that some coaches have switched teams!). Review personal histories over the past few seasons for veteran coaches (emphasizing dress rehearsals is a relatively new phenomenon over the full league history, so focus on recent seasons).

I don’t want to talk too much about this category because it may tip my hand. We discussed this last week with what turned out to be a 100-unit Game of the Year winner on the Denver Broncos in Houston. I need to protect my biggest bets for my clients in advance of release. Be aware that KELSO STURGEON is paying a lot of attention to head coaches this week!



Generally speaking, you have to “disrespect” the market to think you can beat it. This is certainly a week, though, where smart money matters for educational reasons. Not only do the Wise Guys stay very well-informed about team priorities. But, their betting allows “market readers” the chance to see which teams are most highly thought of entering the regular season.

It’s no secret that many “insiders” are high on the Minnesota Vikings this season.  Their “Futures” prices have been dropping. And, they’re now only +1 on the road at Dallas this week even though the Cowboys are a popular choice to make the playoffs. Clearly, the market is telling you that people who matter think Minnesota is going to be a team to watch this season. See if you can figure out which teams the most respected money is optimistic, or pessimistic about.

Those of you who’d like additional help finding smart bets this weekend should hook up with The Dean of Sports Handicapping. Game day BEST BETS can always be purchased right here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions about extended service can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155. I know many of you are do-it-yourselfers. For those who aren’t…guidance is always just a few clicks away.

You have your homework for dress rehearsal weekend! Be prepared for the start of action Friday night…then learn as much as you can from what happens on the field. There may be as many as three or four very clear bets for opening week that become obvious from what you’re about to learn. As football coaches like to say…keep your eyes wide open and have your head on a swivel!


Be sure to follow:

Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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