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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, December 24, 2018 at 11:00 AM

There will be a few games this coming weekend in the NFL with playoff ramifications. But, sports bettors already have a pretty good sense of which teams will be getting which seeds. To the degree there are question marks, they involve very few teams.

That creates an opportunity for students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping to get a head start on playoff preparations. Your assignment through the Christmas holiday is a fun one. I want you to sit down now, and determine what you think the point spreads will be for every possible playoff game.

You can go round by round, or team by team.

You know New Orleans will have home field advantage throughout the NFC brackets. What would you make the Saints at home against the Rams in the conference championship game? Don’t forget that the Rams were actually short favorites when those teams met in the Superdome during the regular season. What about the Saints at home against the Bears? Or, the Cowboys? Drew Brees and his teammates were much bigger favorites when those teams met in Dallas than they should have been. How do you adjust? What about New Orleans at home vs. Seattle, or Minnesota, or Philadelphia?

Once you finish with the Saints, take the Rams through the process. Home vs. everyone but New Orleans (assuming they clinch the #2 seed this weekend). Then, with the Bears…and Cowboys.

After the NFC is complete, do the same thing in the AFC.

The advantages of this exercise are as follows:

*You’ll be ready when the openers go up next Sunday night or Monday morning. You’ll be able to pound any mistakes that oddsmakers post. To many in the general public wait to see what goes up on the board, and then they react. See the line, bet the line. Pro bettors ANTICIPATE the line. This is a skill you need to learn and develop.

*You’ll have a very clear vision of the challenge each contender will be facing. That will give you a sense of what conference and Super Bowl futures should look like. They may also isolate a team you should try to ride round by round. More bettors are realizing that futures prices are TERRIBLE, and that it’s better to bet your sleeper choices on the money line round-by-round to earn a bigger payoff. (I don’t want to tip my hand too much…but I firmly believe that each conference will have a media favorite that’s actually a longshot to run the table…and it would not shock me to see a darkhorse playing in Atlanta on the first Sunday in February.)

*You’ll be thinking already about what it takes to win playoff games. We’ll talk more about that in the future. Many of you have been with me in the past for January coursework. You know that the ability to move the ball without turning it over…and then finishing drives with touchdowns instead of field goals is very important once championships are on the line. Some projected favorites have shown some weaknesses in “challenge” games in those areas in the second half of the season. That’s going to open the door for some shockers. Make sure you’re thinking “what would the price be in a PLAYOFF game between these teams?”

Will this coursework help you find 100-unit or 200-unit possibilities. I couldn’t assure you of that before any lines are even posted! Let me say it this way. It will position you to take advantage of those kinds of opportunities if they arise. Those are less common in the NFL playoffs than in college bowls because everyone has a good read on talent, and THE MOTIVATION FACTOR cancels out…as everyone’s motivated in the playoffs. One of your biggest “on-the-fly” edges in later rounds is fatigue…where an exhausted visitor gets to face a fresh host. Do this work now, and you’ll be ready to pounce if that kicker comes into play.

I understand that many of you have holiday plans this week. I purposely chose homework that you could put off until all of that is over. Wait until Thursday or Friday if you wish. Just make sure it’s done before the weekend. You’ll be buried in bowls later this week. Don’t get stuck watching television instead of doing your homework like you’re a high school or college kid. You want to be a pro bettor? Act like one.

If you’re a football-only bettor, you have a light schedule until things pick up again Wednesday. If you also bet the NBA, Christmas day and night will feature five games for your perusal. Best of luck to you if you pick those games yourself. If you’d like additional help, 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.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping hopes you have a wonderful holiday with the most important people in your life. One of the sad things about living in Las Vegas is that you run into too many people who focus too much on sports betting (or other forms of gambling) and not enough on family. Don’t make that mistake. Keep everything in perspective. My course can be a lifesaver in that regard. It teaches you to work smarter and more efficiently. That allows you to find success and devote quality hours to those who matter.

See you again Friday, when I’ll discuss how to handicap the National Semifinals in college football featuring Clemson/Notre Dame and Alabama/Oklahoma. Those games will be played Saturday afternoon and evening.

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