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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, September 8, 2015 at 7:00 AM

After a month of NFL Preseason action to whet our appetites, the 2015 pro football campaign officially begins Thursday night when the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the New England Patriots in a game you’ll be watching on NBC. With the season about to begin, we’ll devote today’s coursework to a discussion about the particular challenge of handicapping Week One in the NFL

The first thing you need to do is focus on WHAT’S DIFFERENT from last season. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of using last year’s final perceptions to pick this year’s first action. You can get away with that only with veteran teams who have been through the ringer many times.

*Review all the new head coaches (both rookie head coaches, or “old faces in new places”), and go back and study what happened in the Preseason as the players transitioned to the new man.

*Review all new starting quarterbacks (both first-time starters, or signal callers who changed teams in the offseason), and review how they performed in their dress rehearsals two weeks ago.

The market is most vulnerable in games involving these scenarios because oddsmakers and professional bettors can only make educated guesses at best for what is going to happen. Pick a game like the Sunday Nighter between the Giants and Cowboys…no booby traps there. The coaching staffs and quarterbacks are known quantities. But, with a game like Cleveland/NY Jets…the Browns have a new starting quarterback in Josh McCown…while the Jets have a rookie head coach and a newly acquired veteran quarterback. See if you can find any soft spots to attack where oddsmakers are making relatively blind guesses.

(Also, remember that sometimes a coaching change is a good thing that inspires immediate improvement…while sometimes it’s a BAD thing that leads to a really horrible first month!)

The second point of emphasis needs to be PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS. This is particularly true at the quarterback position where there will be some relative mismatches between proven commodities and guys who are still learning the ropes. Plus, there are some situations here where players who may seem like proven commodities are about to be exposed in their new environments. I’m not going to be very specific because I need to protect the plays I’ll be releasing to clients. Some quick homework…double back on those dress rehearsal boxscores for the new quarterbacks! Determine which may have trouble being PLAYMAKERS themselves…or will be unable to consistently get the ball to their rushing and receiving GAMEBREAKERS.

My final point today involves THE MOTIVATION FACTOR. Most of you are probably thinking that this doesn’t even matter in Week One of a new season. Everyone should be fired up and excited to play. Well, that’s true. But…I’ve found it very helpful in past seasons to make a short list of QUALITY teams who are likely to have a chip on their shoulder. Look for “statement” situations where a talented team can make headlines.

Who in the AFC is sick and tired of hearing about the New England Patriots all summer? Who in the NFC is sick and tired of Seattle getting all the glory? Week One Las Vegas pointspreads are usually fairly conservative. That means there are some blowout scenarios that don’t have blowout prices on the game. As I write this, there’s only one game listed as high as a touchdown. There are only three games at six points or more. We will definitely have some laughers this week…but ZERO games have been priced as laughers. I’m confident that at least a couple laughers will be engineered by “chip on their shoulder” teams who unleash their PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS in a very aggressive manner.

I’m not going to give away all of my secrets…but today’s coursework here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping will definitely help you do-it-yourselfers make some smart choices this week. For those of you who aren’t ready to be do-it-yourselfers, KELSO STURGEON’S top plays 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.

This is a midweek report. That means there’s nightly baseball on the card that will help build your September bankroll. I don’t expect to be talking about baseball in the coursework until the playoffs arrive. But, I am still picking baseball if you’re looking for additional action. If you’re serious about being a Las Vegas professional, you don’t limit yourself to just the NFL!

Thanks again to all of you who won with me this past weekend on that 200-unit play on North Carolina State over Troy. More big news will be on the way in coming days for both college and pro football. I’ll see you again in a couple of days to talk about Week Two of college football. As I’ve mentioned before, we’ll have three get-togethers every week through football…and I’ll do my very best to keep the content timely as we read-and-react to real-world developments.

Thanks very much for attendance and hard work!


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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

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