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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, December 3, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Now that the mainstream media is paying more attention to point spreads and sports betting, they were in SHOCK at the number of upsets this past weekend in the NFL.

Hey, a lot of us were caught by surprise by some of these results. But, the fact that there were upsets late in the season isn’t unheard of. Not every team that “needs” to win for playoff positioning has either the talent or motivation to perform at peak levels every week. Not every doormat is just going to lay down and let opponents walk all over them game by game.

First, a quick review of the upsets. Amazingly the first five games in the Nevada Rotation were all won outright by underdogs. A few more after that…

Favorites That Lost Outright

New Orleans (-7.5) lost at Dallas 13-10

Indianapolis (-4.5) lost at Jacksonville 6-0

Pittsburgh (-3) lost vs. the LA Chargers 33-30

Carolina (-3) lost at Tampa Bay 24-17

Atlanta (-3) lost vs. Baltimore 26-16

Chicago (-3) lost at the NY Giants 30-27 in OT

Green Bay (-13) lost to Arizona 20-17

Who knew that Dallas’s upset of New Orleans was going to set the tone for the weekend? A lot going on in that group. We have some favorites that cooled off after hot runs (New Orleans, Indy, Chicago). We have some favorites that have been reeling recently (Pittsburgh, Carolina, Atlanta, Green Bay). We have some underdogs who are very much in the playoff picture (Dallas, LAC, Baltimore). Honestly, it’s never a shocker when a 3-point underdog wins straight up. What was unique about this past Sunday is that so many of them won straight up.

A couple of double-digit favorites didn’t lose outright, but missed their point spreads by about a touchdown…

Favorites that Won But Didn’t Cover

Kansas City (-14) only beat Oakland 40-33

Tennessee (-10) only beat the NY Jets 26-22

Kansas City was much better than Oakland, but coasted through garbage time after building a big lead. Tennessee fell behind early because of a pick-six, but dominated game stats.

I don’t believe this is a sign of things to come for the rest of December, at least at THIS level. Arizona just lost to the Chargers 45-10 two Sundays ago. Oakland is still blowout fodder vs. opponents with good defenses. I don’t think New Orleans or Kansas City are done covering point spreads. But, this past weekend was a reminder for students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping that THE MOTIVATION FACTOR can be very tricky late in a season.

*What should be MOTIVATION to play at a peak level can also cause nervous conservative play that reduces a team’s chance to win easily.

*It’s difficult to bring PEAK INTENSITY every single week in a season…particularly if you’ve already been doing that the past several games. New Orleans hit a temporary wall. The Indianapolis offense did as well. Be careful assuming a “hot” team is going to keep breathing fire. It’s only natural to take your foot off the gas when the playoffs are still a month away.

*Bad teams are capable of playing over their heads in one game…but are very unlikely to do that two or three weeks in a row. You have to remember BOTH parts of that! Some bad teams WILL play over their heads (Arizona beat Green Bay 5.5 to 4.4 in yards-per-play and didn’t commit a turnover). Don’t chase ALL the bad teams assuming you’re getting line value.

*The MOTIVATION FACTOR involving new starting quarterbacks can be very hard to decipher. Sometimes a team responds well.  Ironically, the Jacksonville DEFENSE responded very well to Blake Bortles being benched on offense! San Francisco rallied for a new quarterback awhile back, but have been awful the past two weeks. Baltimore has held up without Joe Flacco on the field. Cincinnati may not without Andy Dalton. Handicappers should try to get a read…but must accept the reality that it’s not always possible to do so.

Your homework today won’t take you long. To help wash away the media overreaction to this past week’s results, I want you to go back through LAST December and review the favorite/underdog break downs. It’s easy to do that at a site like that has the weekly schedules easy to find on their scoreboard. Just log the favorite/dog count each week of December 2017. If you want to spend more time reviewing playoff dynamics at the time, or “tank” dynamics involving draft positioning at the bottom of the standings…you’ll likely be rewarded for that extra effort.

My personal service will mostly be focused on basketball this week, with just one NFL game Monday, one NFL game Thursday, and only Army/Navy Saturday in college football. The football schedule will pick up much more emphatically the week before Christmas when the bowl slate begins.

If you need some help finding best 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 my office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. It’s a great time to try out basketball if you’ve been dragging your feet. A lot of great opportunities right now in both college and pro hoops.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping appreciates your attendance and hard work…and your level-headedness whenever surprises happen in the world of sports. Making a living as a sports bettor is a marathon, not a sprint. The fundamentals work over the long haul. The less you listen to media hype, the more successful you’ll be as a bettor.

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