Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 1:43 PM
It goes without saying that the standard principals of advanced handicapping which apply to all pro football games will also apply to Championship Weekend. I’m here today to present a few more additional themes that are truly the most important when high quality teams are squaring off for a title.
*Probably the first factor for you to think about in a championship scenario is whether or not either team can play from behind. Championship Weekend is ironically known for a lot of BLOWOUTS over the years (as is the Super Bowl for that matter0 because trailing teams weren’t well-suited to play catch up. You want to invest your hard earned money on teams that can deal with whatever comes up. There’s nothing more discouraging than seeing a “smart dog” fall behind in the second quarter on the way to a 35-10 loss while they keet turning the ball over in a frantic effort to catch up.
Pick teams who can play from ahead AND from behind. Avoid teams who are only great as frontrunners but fall apart when the going gets tough.
*The second thing that strikes me about Championship Weekends over the years is how often a Hall of Fame bound performer had a really big game. This goes back to my theme about playmakers and gamebreakers. Well…Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith…go back 10-20 years further or move forward 10 years…it’s all the same story. The guys who win Super Bowls often got there by having HUGE performances in their conference championship game.
With that in mind, run through today’s rosters and list the impact players who are most likely to come through in this fashion. There’s no guarantee that they will. But, this exercise will help you see relatively quickly which teams are best suited to thrive over Championship weekend.
*You often hear that “Defense wins Championships” in the NFL. I probably heard it 10 times last week from TV announcers during the games or in the studio shows. I don’t want to argue against this. But, I’d say it’s better to think of it as “Balance Wins Championships.” Sure, you can’t win a title with a bad defense. But, try doing that with a bad offense! If you’re among the believers in the “defense wins championships” school, I only ask that you also make sure that you have full confidence in your quarterback to get the job done before making a really big investment.
*Special Teams play can be tricky in these big games. Often, they turn out to be irrelevant because a championship caliber team gets things going early and names the score. But, when you have two even teams who can’t shake each other…THEN Special Teams can be the single most important factor because it becomes the ultimate tie-breaker. Who busts a long run on a punt or kickoff return? Who can be trusted to make every field goal in less than friendly conditions (note that we’ll have cold in New England this week, and possibly rain and wind in San Francisco)? Maybe if the superstars are the “gamebreakers,” then kickers are the “gamesavers.” The Vegas pointspreads are such this week that field goals could determine one or two different covers.
*I wanted to give you a quick totals tip before calling it a day. When I release a total in a Championship game to my clients, it’s because I believe that the side I expect to dominant will impose its will on the game completely. That means I’ll take an Over if a potent offense is going to explode. Championship game history in particular is full of instances where the winner took the game Over all by themselves. If I take an Under, it’s because I expect a defense to completely shut down the other side, or at least hold them to a very low number while their offense runs clock. I can’t talk specifics here in coursework because I have to protect the releases for my clients. I’ll just say that I believe both Sunday games will offer that kind of opportunity this weekend.
You can purchase my Championship Weekend football selections here at the website with your credit card, along with a variety of major releases in basketball. Please take care of business early before the afternoon action starts each day.
I’ll be back again for another installment from my College of Advanced Handicapping early next week to talk about basketball. Thanks again to all of you regular students for attending my “College of Advanced Handicapping.” Be sure to look for video updates on the home page of this website for additional news and notes. Let me say now that the video updates could be VERY important this weekend