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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, September 7, 2018 at 1:00 PM

If we learned anything from Thursday night’s season opener in the NFL, it’s that many offenses aren’t ready for the start of the new season. They didn’t get enough reps in August exhibition games. They blew off their dress rehearsals, or only went hard for a quarter. They worried more about keeping everyone healthy than preparing for real time action.

I can understand an emphasis on health. Everybody saw Green Bay fall off the map last year when Aaron Rodgers got hurt. Atlanta kept Matt Ryan bottled up in August because they don’t think they can make the playoffs with Matt Schaub. Philadelphia is already missing Carson Wentz, and has to be careful with Nick Foles.

The result of conservative Augusts led to a Thursday night TV showdown where:

*Neither team could score a TD in the first half

*Atlanta flailed in the red zone

*Philadelphia couldn’t score TDs until late

*Neither offense could manage respectable yards-per-play totals

Sure, you don’t want to have to rely on Matt Schaub as an emergency starter if you’re Atlanta. But, going 0-1 out of the gate with Matt Ryan isn’t any better if he doesn’t have his timing down with receivers, or if the offense as a whole doesn’t have a coherent plan in scoring position. It’s still a loss either way. I believe NFL teams will learn they have to risk their QBs more than they’ve been doing so far in 2018.

And, THAT’S the starting point for today’s home work assignment. Between now and Sunday’s kickoffs, I want you to go through and collect August passing stats for every projected starting quarterback. You need to know how many passes each threw…what his completion percentage was…what his yards per attempt was…and how many interceptions he threw.

Note, I said EVERY projected starting quarterback. That includes Ryan and Foles because you need to see what their preseason projection implied for what actually happened in their opener.

While there will certainly be some good QB performances this Sunday (I’m not so sure about Monday night based on those matchups), I think the bulk of starters will underperform their career norms. Too many just aren’t ready for aggressive defenses who are as fresh as they’re going to be. It doesn’t take long for defenses to get everyone on the same page. Based on what I saw in the first halves of dress rehearsals, there are some offenses who won’t be ready until October!

Once you have the stats for all starters, I want you to take a shot at creating a “readiness rating” for each player. Any longtime veteran who seemed sharp gets a perfect 10. Lesser players who struggled through August will be down below five. You can also use career norms here to pin down accuracy. It’s possible Nathan Peterman of Buffalo will never have a readiness rating better than 0 in regular season action! He’ll have to prove otherwise to me.

Now, don’t go making bets based exclusively on these quarterback “readiness ratings.” Use them to help shape opinions you’ve already formed. Maybe you didn’t realize a star quarterback barely played in August…and could be rusty. Maybe you didn’t realize a coaching change helped get a handful of offenses ready faster. You may decide to add or subtract betting units from planned selections. Maybe a lean becomes a pass, or a pass becomes a lean.

But, this work WILL matter because every dollar you bet matters. And, because what you learn will help you make smarter picks through the whole month of September. Your research PLUS what you see in this week’s season openers will position you to beat the market until it catches up to all the new realities across the league.

I’ve been talking a lot about quarterbacks in both college and pro football in our recent coursework. I can assure you it won’t be this way the whole season through. But, that’s always been the most important position for handicappers. Now, evolution in the game is hitting that position harder than others. If NFL head coaches are going to virtually guarantee that even veterans will be rusty to start a new season, your betting must take that into account.

You didn’t see vintage Matt Ryan last night. Nick Foles had Peterman-like stats most of the game.

I have several big plays planned this weekend in college and pro football. As always, they’re largely based on my reads involving PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS as well as THE MOTIVATION FACTOR. Already some letdown or lookahead spots in college football based on what happened last week. Your summer of preparation is about to pay off NOW.

If you’d like assistance finding smart bets, KELSO STURGEON’S top plays can always be purchased at this website by credit card. 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.

Be sure you ask about combination packages with Major League Baseball when you call. I won’t be talking about MLB in our coursework until the playoffs arrive. But, I’m still making picks every day. This puts us in position to win DAILY rather than just when football is on the schedule.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping is pleased to see so many new faces this season. Welcome to those of you joining us from the New York/New Jersey area, from Mississippi, from West Virginia, and from Delaware. And, from all adjacent states who are happy to make short drives to bet legally! My College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping runs in this space every Monday and Friday. I’ll see you again early next week.

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