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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Saturday, January 2, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Though the late Sunday afternoon matchup featuring the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals could turn out to be quite a game. I’m quite confident that a playoff rematch in a few weeks would be even better! It’s certainly possible that the Seahawks and Cards could meet again. In fact, I think they might be the two NFC teams with the best chance of representing the conference in the Super Bowl next month.

Hold on Carolina Panthers fans…I can hear you yelling!

Why is KELSO STURGEON skeptical of Carolina’s chances to run the table? Well, first of all, I’m not coming close to eliminating them from consideration. They have a great defense, a balanced offense, and will have home field advantage through the NFC brackets as long as they take care of business as double digit favorites Sunday against Tampa Bay.

Against them:

*They may have peaked too early

*The defense looks like it’s getting tired

*Cam Newton is far from a sure thing to maintain his composure under pressure

*This isn’t a great team if Can Newton isn’t making plays!

Seattle is peaking at the right time, even if they took last week off vs. the Rams. I’ve talked about the Seahawks a lot here recently in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. They know what it takes to win playoff games. And, Russell Wilson has taken his game to a whole new level here in the second half of the season. He’s now a PLAYMAKER instead of a game manager!

I know and understand that Seattle will have to win the NFC as a Wildcard. Eli Manning has done it. Russell Wilson surely could. If you’ve been following this team closely during the Pete Carroll era…they’re great on the road!

Arizona is really impressing me down the stretch as well. Yes, having to sweat the Minnesota game wasn’t a good look. But, everyone’s having games like that of late, even Carolina and New England (the top teams in Futures prices entering the final month). The Cardinals have more big play explosiveness than the other top NFC teams. Their defense can have stretches of inconsistency…but they can also step up when needed.

And, the Cards will get the benefit of a bye week. They could steal the #1 seed from Carolina if they beat Seattle and Carolina loses to Tampa Bay. That Carolina/Tampa Bay game has been time-changed to a late afternoon start so the games could run side-by-side to add some drama to the final Sunday of TV coverage. Its seems more likely that Carolina will beat the Bucs, and Arizona will coast into the postseason as a #2 seed who may have the luxury of resting its starters in the second half if Carolina is winning a blowout.

This sums up by current sense of the NFC, using the projected seeds if favorites win out Sunday…

#1 Carolina: peaked too early, not trustworthy under pressure

#2 Arizona: packed with PLAYMAKERS on both sides of the ball

#3 Green Bay: offense in BIG trouble vs. any good defense (discussed last week)

#4 Washington: very difficult to take seriously as a Super Bowl threat

#5 Minnesota: outclassed by Seattle head-to-head

#6 Seattle: would sneak up to #5 by upsetting Arizona if Minnesota loses…peaking at the right time with players who still have something prove

Hey…maybe Seattle peaked too early too and they’re about to hit a wall. Maybe Carolina will refocus and Can Newton will be the league’s new poster boy. For now…I think you’re looking at the future NFC champion in that Seattle/Arizona game.

Your homework for Sunday? To me, the teams are such known quantities right now that there’s not much research for you to do. Spend some time during the day preparing for the playoffs. Build some charts where you can have important stats for the 12 survivors over two conferences at your fingertips. Start researching the playoff coaching histories of the men who are already locked in. If you’re still feeling a hangover from too much New Year’s celebration…rest up for the challenges ahead!

If you’d like some help finalizing your Sunday NFL portfolio, KELSO STURGEON’S best bets can always be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the Vegas Sports Masters’ office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155.

With the college football season falling by the wayside, it’s time for you to really start focusing on college basketball and/or the NBA. I know some of you prefer one over the other so strongly that you’ll just pick your favorite. Fine…be sure you’re coming up with strategies that will allow you to be a successful Las Vegas bettor year round! You can’t make a living in this world winning just 4-5 months a year during football.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping appreciates your attendance and hard work. I trust you learned a lot through 2015. I’ll endeavor to keep challenging and educating you through 2016 with fresh coursework tied directly to relevant developments in the sports betting world. See you Monday to talk some college hoops.


Be sure to follow:

Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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