Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, January 7, 2019 at 7:00 AM
This past Friday, I raised the possibility that defenses might be back in control of their own destiny in the NFL. That was certainly a theme over Wildcard Weekend. Will it be the theme of Monday night’s National Championship game featuring the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers? Answer that question, and you’ll go a long way toward determining the right side and total selections.
Regular students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping know that I can’t post my official selections here in the coursework. That wouldn’t be fair to paying customers. I’m happy to provide guidance for do-it-yourselfers trying to make their final decisions.
If you’ve come this far in our college football analysis, you already know the PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS on each team. THE MOTIVATION FACTOR is a non-issue because both teams will be sky high for this one. Nobody’s flat for a championship game! Fatigue shouldn’t be an issue either, as both programs extended dominating seasons with double-digit victories in the national semifinals. These may be the two most well-rested contenders in championship history.
I’d suggest a refresher that focuses specifically on defensive skill sets. Don’t worry right now about ATS records, or any trends or angles you’re hearing from media pundits (seems all the new “sports betting” pundits want to throw ATS trends at you rather than information that really matters). Focus on who can get stops. Try to determine which defense will have the most impact plays in terms of takeaways and sacks. Who’s going to force more punts or field goals with stiff third down stands?
Obviously, “homework” from those topics would suggest:
*Look at Takeaway stats and overall turnover differential
*Look at Defensive Sack stats
*Look at Third Down Defense
*Look at Fourth Down Defense
*Prioritize games vs. the TOUGHEST opponents.
Honestly, I don’t care who played great defense against non-conference cupcakes or against the worst teams in the SEC (Alabama) or ACC (Clemson). How did these defenses do against their most talented offensive opponents? Focus on THOSE stats vs. TOUGH opponents, and you’re likely to uncover something that will trigger a selection.
Be sure to think about the Over/Under here, rather than just the team side. That doesn’t mean I want you to “force” a play just because this is a big game on TV. Analyze the number you see on the board today for vulnerability.
*If you anticipate a “defensive battle” similar to Indy/Houston or LA Chargers/Baltimore, don’t be afraid to bet the Under. If both defenses shine in your analysis, betting Under might be better than taking a shot on either team side.
*If you see a “shootout” similar to what these teams have done against each other in prior championship games (or the Alabama/Oklahoma game), don’t be afraid to bet the Over. Same story in the other direction. If both defenses are great vs. mediocre offenses or worse…but turn mortal vs. the juggernauts they may see tonight…just bet the shootout and don’t worry about which offense will get the ball last.
This should cover all the bases for you. If one team shows a meaningful edge, bet that team. If neither does, but the stars align for a smart totals bet…pass the team side and make that bet. If you can’t make heads nor tails of your options, 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. I am confident I’ve pegged this game correctly.
This will be our last college football report of the season. Though, I might reference the game in our next class get-together Friday for the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs, it will be a paragraph or two rather than a full lesson. Thanks to all of you college football handicappers for attending classes through the fall and winter. The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your hard work.
It will soon be time to focus mostly on college basketball as we head down the road to March Madness. Some preliminary work for you:
*Visit kenpom.com for great analytics that properly evaluate all the college board teams. YOU need to know who plays the best offense and defense when adjusted for pace. The mainstream media is still about five years behind the curve in making that adjustment. That’s an improvement, because it used to be 20 years behind! Winning handicappers spend a lot of time at this website. If you’re a regular student of mine, you’ve already established that you have the right work ethic to make the most of kenpom.com.
*Visit the standings and team pages at covers.com to evaluate how the market has been performing so far this season. If you see any teams that are 11-4 against the spread or better, the market has been underrating them. Any teams around 4-11 or worse have been overrated. There are some interesting Over/Under developments you’ll discover as well with a little research.
*Force yourself to read box scores every night from the conferences you plan to handicap. ESPN.com has these in a very timely manner. They’re easy to find too. You need to know the strengths and weaknesses of the teams you’ll be betting. Hard work is rewarded in my field. Nobody works harder than KELSO STURGEON!
Enjoy Alabama/Clemson. See you again Friday at the usual time to talk about a fascinating set of NFL matchups.