Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Saturday, November 14, 2015 at 7:00 AM
If you watched the Denver Broncos dismantle the Green Bay Packers recently, it would be very hard for you to believe that the NFC was the superior of the two conferences this year in the NFL. Denver isn’t even the best team in the AFC. That honor belongs to the New England Patriots. But, “second best” Denver crushed “best of the NFC” Green Bay 29-10 in a game that wasn’t even as close as the final score made it sound.
Then, the next night undefeated Carolina from the NFC had to go overtime on its home field to beat what was then a 3-4 Indianapolis team from the AFC. In those two games, it looked like the NFC powers were pretenders.
For the season overall, it’s actually the NFC that’s getting the best of it head-to-head with a 20-16 record. The breakdown is as follows…
NFC South is 7-3 vs. the AFC South
NFC North is 7-5 vs. the AFC West (7-1 when not playing Denver)
NFC West is 4-4 vs. the AFC North
NFC East is 2-4 vs. the AFC East (2-2 when not playing New England)
That 20-16 record moves to 20-10 if you take out the 0-6 performance vs. the powerful Patriots and Broncos. You could say it this way…New England and Denver have been interconference wrecking crews themselves…but the rest of the AFC has struggled when crossing over.
Something to think about this week when you look at these interconference games…
Carolina (NFC) at Tennessee (AFC)
Miami (AFC) at Philadelphia (NFC)
Minnesota (NFC) at Oakland (AFC)
New England (AFC) at the NY Giants (NFC)
I’m particularly interested in those middle two games. I think the Carolina and New England results will largely be determined by whether or not those teams are focused. Carolina is in a flat spot on the schedule after playing three high profile games in a row (Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Green Bay all were prominent on the airwaves). New England is going to just keep mowing down people until they hit a bump in the road.
Miami (3-5) at Philadelphia (4-4) is interesting because Miami started playing much better after their head coach was fired…while Philadelphia is starting to get some things going after a very slow start. Frankly, if Philadelphia doesn’t impress here…you just can’t take them seriously as any sort of threat in January. They’re playing in what appears to be the superior conference. They need to get a result vs. the Dolphins.
Minnesota (6-2) at Oakland (4-4) is fascinating because the Vikings really aren’t playing as great as that record would suggest…while the Raiders have been one of the biggest surprises of the year. Many pundits here in Vegas thought Oakland would be a disaster again. Instead, local sportsbooks are rocking with the Silver and Black because the Raiders (and 49ers) are the closest thing Nevada has to “local” teams in the NFL. Maybe the interconference data is suggesting some hidden value for the Vikings. Or, maybe this is the week that helps Oakland to a Wildcard berth.
I’m not going to talk too much about the Sunday card because I have to protect my picks for my paying clients. I will tell you this much…I think some teams who are on the fringes of the playoff race are about to get officially exposed as pretenders. Can’t name the names just yet. You students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping can do the following homework to try and get in synch with my thought process.
*Look at the “Wildcard” standings in the NFL at your favorite sports website.
*Look at the strength of schedule rankings for those teams to see who’s been doing well vs. a tough slate, and who’s only winning because they’ve had it easy (both the USA Today and Football Outsiders rank schedules, as do a few other sites).
*Name the “healthy” PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS on the rosters for those listed teams.
*Look at the DEFENSES of those teams, emphasizing yards-per-play allowed and takeaways. Any defense that looks mediocre now is only going to get worse when the cumulative fatigue of the season sets in. Elite defenses are likely to be your best bets to make a playoff run.
*Write down the names of the HEAD COACHES for those teams, and review how their teams have performed in November and December of past seasons. It’s easy to lose sight of coaching strengths and weaknesses in this era of number crunching. Let an old-school guy like KELSO STURGEON remind you that not everything you need to know is in the boxscore stats!
Do that homework between now and Sunday’s first kickoff…and I think at least a couple of strong selections will jump off the board at you.
Don’t forget that KELSO STURGEON’S top plays in all sports can always be purchased 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.
Back with you next week with our first talk about the new college basketball season. The year continues to fly by…and now we have all four major winter betting sports on the daily agenda. The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your attendance and hard work through what is destined to be a November to Remember!
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