Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 11:46 AM
I promised to try to read and react through the course of the football season. Our coursework this Fall will be a mix of prepared lessons on important fundamentals of the Advanced Handicapping process and periodic responses to developments that are happening before our eyes.
I wanted to spend today talking about lessons from the first week of NFL regular season action. A companion piece discussing the first two weeks of college football action will run this Friday in our regularly scheduled time slot. I’ve scheduled our NFL discussion first because Chicago/Green Bay is a more important game this Thursday Night than Rutgers/South Florida is (by a mile!). Our college discussion will be just in time for Friday’s Washington State/UNLV game (getting a lot of interest locally) and the full Saturday slate of marquee action.
Here are a few keys I want to point out from this past weekend’s NFL…
*First, a few of the rookie quarterbacks were even worse than I expected! I had a 100-Unit winner on Houston over Miami because I knew Ryan Tannehill would be in deep trouble for a team that was already lacking in playmakers. He threw three interceptions and didn’t lead the Dolphins to a touchdown all day. Miami’s only TD was on a punt return…which means the “real” final score was more like 30-3 than 30-10. And, frankly, Houston didn’t even play that well! They just coasted on offense because field position was coming so easily.
Heed this now…before they get benched you need to find ways to bet against both Tannehill and Brandon Weeden. Russell Wilson will be given some time to find his range because Seattle responded so well to his leadership…but I’d be worried to trust him against any good teams right now. He couldn’t beat Arizona as a favorite. Andrew Luck is going to be interception prone against good defenses, but may offer clear value against lesser defenses because of his ability to throw downfield. I was impressed with Robert Griffin III. Can he do that again now that the element of surprise is gone?
*Secondly, Green Bay is likely to be very overrated this year in terms of their ability to beat good teams. They had a soft schedule last year that wasn’t really exposed until their playoff opener with the Giants. This past Sunday, San Francisco beat them just the way the Giants did. Smash mouth football and quality defense. The 49ers were a 50-Unit upset special for me that won straight up.
The Packers do have the kind of gamebreakers who can run up the score on bad teams. I’ll likely be asking them to do that with my bankroll at some point going forward. I won’t ask them to cover against good defenses or opponents who can run the ball. Green Bay’s defense is just too soft to trust vs. a smart opponent that knows what it’s doing with the ball.
*Third, I do believe that the replacement refs are helping to boost scoring. I talked about that leading up to the season based on what we saw in the exhibition slate when the best players were on the field in Weeks Two and Three. The Week One scoring average was up Sunday. One of the hidden causes for that is that the replacements are afraid to call back long punt, kickoff, or interception returns because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves or erase a big play. There were TEN non-offensive touchdowns on Sunday. This increases the potential impact of PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS on defense and special teams. Handicap accordingly.
*Efficiency is going to be what separates the men from the boys on offense this season. And, I mean that literally. Veterans largely did a great job of avoiding turnovers this past Sunday (outside of Michael Vick, who’s always been poor at decision-making anyway), while young starters were interception machines. I strongly recommend against investing in any first and second-year quarterbacks until they’ve established that they can play a clean game. I do expect Andrew Luck to be able to do that soon vs. the weaker defenses. RGIII has done that already against the flat footed Saints. The bulk of your income should be invested in high quality experienced quarterbacks who are in position to put up big numbers vs. that day’s opponent.
Here’s a quick list of teams I will think about seriously when they’re facing vulnerable defenses: New England, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Houston, Indy soon, Denver, San Diego, Philadelphia (borderline), Dallas, NY Giants, Washington (for now), New Orleans, Atlanta, Green Bay, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco. That’s a shade over half the league. I can pretty safely say that any 50-Unit, 100-Unit, and 200-Unit plays you see from me in the coming weeks will involve finding those offenses in great situations to have a peak outing.
I’ll be back with you on Friday for our next class here in my College of Advanced Handicapping. As I stated earlier, we’ll look back at the first two weeks of college action to get a sense of what might be ahead this weekend and beyond.
If you’d like some help picking winners in football (and daily baseball), my top plays are always available for credit card purchase right here at the website. Seasonal rates are affordably priced for those of you interested in making a longterm commitment.
I want to once again thank all of you for your continued attendance and hard work. It’s gratifying to know that so many of you are applying the principals you’ve learned here and are showing results with your own personal Las Vegas betting. I’m very humbled as the Dean of Sports Handicapping to have this chance to pass along so much of what I’ve learned over the years about how to beat the oddsmakers. I hope you’ll do the same with those close to you as you continue to achieve success. See you next time.