Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, August 10, 2018 at 12:00 PM
After watching the Cleveland Browns’ victory over the New York Giants Thursday night on the NFL Network, I have one thing to say to students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. Don’t fall in love with the Browns yet!
Now, they might be a good betting team through August. No doubt about that. There’s a lot of new enthusiasm within the franchise. And, they appear to finally have some quarterbacks who know what they’re doing. But, please remember all of the following.
*Upgrading from “D” on the report card to “B-minus” doesn’t mean you’re suddenly an “A” caliber quarterback. Once the regular season starts, the Browns will still be worse at that position than many other teams unless Baker Mayfield develops extremely quickly. Most rookies don’t. We know what Tyrod Taylor can do. He’s a “B-minus” at best, probably worse vs. quality opposition.
*Bringing effort in the Preseason can create the illusion of quality if you’re facing opponents who are just working on timing and fundamentals. To me, Cleveland’s win over the New York Giants means nothing for the regular season. Though, if Eli Manning gets hurt and Davis Webb has to play quarterback…you can be sure I’ll be fading the G-men.
For some reason, there’s a lot of betting interest in the Browns here in Las Vegas this summer. Their Regular Season Win Total is six…which is very high for a team that went 1-31 the last two seasons! Not four. Not five. But six (with some extra vigorish on the Under at the full six). To win an Over bet, the Browns must get to seven victories, which is almost a .500 record. Can a team go from 1-31 to almost .500 caliber that fast?
Answering that question is your homework assignment this weekend. It will be slightly different than normal because we’re going to focus on personnel instead of stats or point spread results. Here’s what I want you to do.
*First, go back to last year’s two-deep, and assign a letter grade to each position. I’ve already told you that “D” makes sense at quarterback. You might disagree…but it won’t be by much. Do that for each position. That’s 11 on offense, 11 on defense, plus the punter and the place kicker.
*Second, go through this season’s projected two-deep based on the lineups that played Thursday in New York. You’ll see right away that there’s been a lot of important personnel turnover. That’s a good sign for improvement, but not necessarily a good sign for winning seven games. Pencil in what you expect report card grades to be this season. Obviously, this is educated guesswork. If you’re attending my coursework here at this website, you’re qualified to make educated guesses.
*Finally, make an evaluation. Does that collection of projected 2018 letter grades add up to…
A playoff contender?
A .500 caliber team?
A 4-12 also-ran?
Another disastrous disappointment?
I’m going to guess the last one is off the table. If the team starts 0-4, the head coach will be fired, and his replacement might be able to get the Browns to 4-12. You can make your own call on that.
I want you to focus on the Browns because opportunities could arise one way or the other with this team all season. If they really HAVE improved significantly, it will take forever for the wagering public to buy it. You’ll make good money backing the Browns until the line catches up. Think about this for a second, Cleveland has a Regular Season Win Total of six…but they’re still getting +6 or +7 at home against Pittsburgh in Week One. Those don’t line up. That’s the same as -9 or -10 on a neutral field, or -12 to -13 in Pittsburgh. Teams that are +12 at Pittsburgh aren’t 6-10 caliber.
On the other hand, if the Browns are still going to be horrible, you can still fade them just like you did last year. A bad, unprepared version of the Browns would lose at home to Pittsburgh by around 10, and on the road by 14-17 or more. Odds makers are pricing some improvement into the team already in week-by-week lines. Maybe that improvement shouldn’t be there. Beating the disinterested Giants in early August doesn’t mean you’re ready for a great rival in September.
I’ll let my customers know next week if Cleveland deserves another look in preseason action. Local Wise Guys cleaned up Thursday, as that line moved all the way from Cleveland +3 to Cleveland -1 through the week. If you’d like to be a paying customer, KELSO STURGEON’S BEST BETS can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. Make a few clicks and have your credit card ready.
Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the Vegas Sports Masters office by calling office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. I know some of you prefer focusing on just one sport when you handicap. If you’re looking at his as investors, you can see why attacking every sport makes sense. If you have an edge (and, I believe I provide an edge), then you want to be in action whenever your edge is in play.
The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly your attendance. I know you’re excited to have pro football back on the betting calendar. College football will be here in just a few weeks. That means we’ll be increasing our college football class load very soon. Baseball is about to go on the back burner in our coursework because so many more people bet football than baseball. I will check back in on the bases in time for the MLB playoffs. See you Monday.