Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 5:42 PM
Wednesday morning Las Vegas time, Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott announced that he was benching starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor in favor of backup quarterback Nathan Peterman. While that might seem harsh to many of you, given how great the Bills looked a few weeks ago when beating the Oakland Raiders 34-14, it's at least a sign that Buffalo has a sense of urgency about THIS season.
If you've been watching a lot of NFL lately, you've noted that many teams have lacked that urgency. Some teams even seem to be losing on purpose to position themselves for next year's draft (Cleveland, again) or to get their head coach fired (NY Giants). This past Monday night, neither Miami nor Carolina played any defense in the second half. Carolina's a playoff team! But, even good teams start pacing themselves if they have a big lead.
Today's lesson in my College of Advanced Sports Betting is about the importance of recognizing whether or not teams are playing with a sense of purpose. I think McDermott made that move because he saw his team give up last week when they fell behind New Orleans. They lost the second half 30-7, and allowed almost 300 rushing yards. That shouldn't happen AT HOME to a playoff contender. He graded his team an "F" and realized something had to be done.
Your homework is to go through the NFL team-by-team and give everybody a grade for whether or not they've been playing with a sense of urgency lately. This simple act by itself will help talk you out of those "value" underdogs that sharps supposedly get rich betting. Nobody's getting rich betting on Cleveland this year (again). Nobody's getting rich backing the Giants.
On the other hand, some of the biggest moneymakers have been motivated teams recognizing their opportunity. The Philadelphia Eagles...the Los Angeles Rams...the aforementioned New Orleans Saints...to name a few.
Grade with an emphasis on recent form, and really penalize teams who are posting lackluster stats in the areas of run defense and red zone defense. Only give out "A" grades to teams who are consistently playing like they care week after week.
This act alone will help you find great bets this week and beyond. When you combine what you learn with your knowledge of PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS that I've been pounding into you since the coursework started many years ago, you will find possibilities worth 50-unit or 100-unit bets. Frankly, oddsmakers just can't make the lines high enough for these kinds of mismatches. Look at all the "contender vs. pretender" blowouts we saw last week.
LA Rams (-12) beat Houston 33-7
New England (-7.5) beat Denver 41-16
Carolina (-9) beat Miami 45-21
Those are victory margins of 26, 25, and 24 points. Sports books just won't pointspreads that high no matter how deserving. Detroit (-10) still managed to cover against Cleveland in a 38-24 win despite being in a letdown spot after a big Monday night divisional win over Green Bay. The Rams, Patriots, and Panthers weren't in letdown spots and more than doubled the spread.
I've scouted out the schedule for the rest of the season. There are so many "contenders" in the crowded Wildcard races, and so many "pretenders" that are just going through the motions...that this dynamic is going to be a huge factor each and every week. Almost the whole Thanksgiving Weekend schedule is contenders vs. pretenders! You will definitely find many "A" teams in attitude lined up against "F" teams with failing motivation in scoreboard mismatches.
It's only mid-November...and the NFL regular season runs through the end of December. You can take advantage of this for WEEKS! And, some of those "A" teams are going to fall by the wayside as they drop out of the playoff race. More opportunities will create themselves if they aren't apparent now.
Heck, even Buffalo may lose its spirit for good if Peterman isn't the answer. They had sure stopped playing for Taylor the past two weeks (loss at the NY Jets, loss to New Orleans). But, at least the head coach is recognizing that something had to be done immediately rather than just sitting back and blaming everybody else (one of the keys behind the NY Giants' collapse).
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The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your time and attendance. I look forward to seeing you again next week. You've got some homework to do!