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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Week Two of the NFL Playoffs always brings interesting challenges to “Advanced Handicappers.” The most important difference from Wildcard Weekend is that you have FOUR teams who are rested and playing on their home fields. In the not too-distant past, this was seen as a huge edge that often doubled the numerical value of home field advantage. More recently, the market has reduced this edge, and sometimes even ignored it.

For example, San Francisco is a rested bye team, yet is a 4-point underdog at press time against red-hot New Orleans.

How much is a bye and home field worth in January playoff action? That’s probably the single biggest question “Advanced Handicappers” have to face this weekend.

Here are some quick tips I use when making my game-by-game assessments:

*Look at how physically drained the visitor is from their game the prior week, or from a late season surge to make the playoffs. Many past blowouts in the Divisional Round were simply a reflection of an exhausted team running out of gas just as they ran into a fresh juggernaut. A rested host can annihilate a tired visitor in a way that the Vegas line has trouble duplicating. But, if the visitor isn’t dealing with any special duress, then you’re likely to see a hardfought battle.

*What kind of picture do the injury reports paint? The best thing about a bye week is that it lets injured teams heal. Are the hosts this week likely to take a step forward because they got healthy. Or, will there be no change because the injured players will still be out, or there weren’t many meaningful injuries in the first place? The worst thing about not having a bye is that there’s never been any time to heal from the regular season wear and tear. Which road teams are really banged up this week after suffering more damage last week?

*Evaluate how home conditions could help the host in a way that boosts regular season production. We don’t have any warm weather or dome locations this year. In the past, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see a Northern team wilt in Southern conditions or on a soft indoor track. Do you see any way that San Francisco, New England, Baltimore, or Green Bay will get a boost from playing on home field this week? Do you see any ways that visitors New Orleans, Denver, Houston, and the NY Giants will be hindered by this week’s road conditions? That’s the more likely avenue for an edge this year in my view. Don’t think about “home field advantage” this year. Can you see something that would represent “road field disadvantage?”

*What are the coaching histories in the playoffs for the men on the sidelines? Do this week’s bye teams have past experience in that role? Do this week’s road teams know what it’s like to win on the road when they HAVE to? It’s my personal view that coaching mistakes will play a big role in at least one of this weekend’s games. See if you can review recent playoff histories and determine who my go-against coach is going to be.

I shouldn’t even have to mention that you still focus on playmakers and gamebreakers. That’s one of the hallmarks of my “Advanced Handicapping” approach. Spend some time looking back at how this week’s projected playmakers have fared in recent years at home and on the road. Can you trust Tom Brady as a big home favorite? Is Drew Brees a sure thing to thrive outside of a dome? Is there a mismatch this weekend where one team has several gamebreakers and the opponent has hardly any?

I’ve done my analysis and made my decisions. I’m very confident that my clients and I are going to have a fantastic weekend in the NFL. You can purchase my releases right here at the website with your credit card. Be sure to check on the busy basketball schedules too. I’ve won three straight 50-Unit college plays this week. Friday Night brings a 50-Unit play in the NBA that I expect to cash just as easily.

The only thing more dangerous than KELSO STURGEON is KELSO STURGEON WHEN HE’S RED HOT! Let me prove that to you Friday Night and all weekend.

I’ll be back again for another installment from my College of Advanced Handicapping early next week. We’ll probably go back to basketball for that report…then have a special “Championship Weekend” edition for the NFL playoffs late next week.

Thanks again to all of you regular students in my “College of Advanced Handicapping.” Be sure to look for video updates this weekend on the home page of this website

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