Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Wednesday, September 6, 2017 at 12:05 PM
With the NFL regular season about to begin, it's time for students here in my Advanced College of Sports Betting to focus on the single most important PLAYMAKER position of all. I'm talking about the quarterback position in the NFL.
No single position in any other sport even comes close to the importance of NFL quarterback in terms of YOUR bets. College football has gamebreakers at various skill positions. Cy Young award winners in Major League baseball only start every fifth day, and pitching is only about half of baseball given the wide variance of hitting talent. You could make the case that an NBA superstar like LeBron James is as important as any other player...but that's a guy, rather than a position. LeBron's position isn't as important as quarterback in the NFL.
You see...modern pro football defenses know how to at least contain running backs and wide receivers. Some are better than others. But, there are no longer NFL running backs that can take a team on their shoulders and carry them to a Super Bowl. Some receivers score more TD's than others. But, same situation there. They can't win by themselves. They can't do anything unless the quarterback puts the ball in their hands.
If you're going to make money betting pro football this season, those bets must largely be based on the quality of the quarterbacks in the game. So, YOU need to make sure you're evaluating quarterbacks properly.
*Some quarterbacks can move the chains and get the ball into the end zone
*Some quarterbacks can only move the chains
*Some quarterbacks can't even do that much, except against the worst opponents
*Some quarterbacks can find the end zone, but are turnover prone
*A rare handful of quarterbacks can find the end zone with very few miscues
However you do it, you need to come up with a scale that takes those factors into account. These are the stats I would study, and place the most weight on.
*Team third down conversion rate
*Team record in games decided by 5 points or less
You could rank starting quarterbacks from 1-32 (or the two-deeps from 1-64) in all of those categories separately, then average the rankings. If you like playing around with spreadsheets, you could try to devise formulas that weight the categories differently. But, the simple act of just STUDYING those numbers will put you ahead of the game. You'll realize which quarterbacks have nice "efficiency" stats while their offense mostly just settles for field goals. You'll realize which quarterbacks give too many games away with badly timed interceptions. And, you'll see the WIDE expanse between somebody like Tom Brady and the dregs that are earning paychecks for the bottom quarter of the league.
You know, the whole world recognized that the New England Patriots were very good last season. It was impossible to miss. Yet, the Pats still went 13-3 against the spread during the regular season because Tom Brady was SO MUCH better than other quarterbacks in the league. They were the best team...and laying tall numbers. But, those numbers weren't all enough to account for reality. Yes, the Patriots were lucky to win the Super Bowl after all that. But, it was Brady who brought them back to force overtime...and Brady who led them to the win/cover in the extra period. That capped off a 3-0 ATS performance in the postseason, which pushed New England to 16-3 against the spread overall.
I'm not saying we'll see a repeat of THAT in 2017. The Patriots lost a key weapon already when Julian Edelman went down. Brady is getting old, which means a decline in skills is going to happen at some point. It's YOUR job as talent evaluators to determine the difference between Brady and everyone else this season. And then determine if oddsmakers are properly capturing those differences in their point spreads.
Also important, getting a true read on all the rookie or "replacement" quarterbacks that have been forced into action. On the Colts, how much worse than Andrew Luck is Scott Tolzien? I've heard all sorts of numbers. The Dean of Sports Handicapping has a number in his head too! Get that right, and you'll cash tickets until Luck is ready to play again. What about Deshone Kizer for Cleveland? Is the rookie ready? Which second-year starters (like Carson Wentz and Jared Goff) might take a step forward this season?
Sure, there's some variance in defensive quality...and in skill position quality on offense at the wide receiver and running back positions. But, the difference between winning championships (and covering spreads) and struggling to reach five wins (while getting blown out on a regular basis) revolves around the quarterback position. Your homework over the next few days is to develop a rating system that accurately appraises performance at the position.
If you'd like some help finding smart investments on the college and pro slates this week and all through the season, KELSO STURGEON'S FOOTBALL can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the office during normal business hours at 1-800-755-2255, or on weekends before the first games get started.
I'll be back with you again a week from today with another weekly installment of my College of Advanced Sports Betting. Best of luck to you this weekend!