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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at 3:47 PM

Not only do the NFL playoffs start this weekend with the four games involving Wildcard teams, but we also have the National Championship in college football featuring Alabama vs. Georgia coming up Monday night. That makes this the perfect time in my College of Advanced Sports Betting to talk about handicapping "playoff style" football.

I've already won the first two "playoff" games of the football season, as both Georgia and Alabama were part of my 4-1 performance in New Year's bowl action.

New Year's Selections
South Carolina (+8) beat Michigan 26-19
Central Florida (+10.5) beat Auburn 34-27
LSU (-3.5) lost to Notre Dame 21-17 (only loser)
Georgia (-2.5) beat Oklahoma 54-48
Alabama (-3) beat Clemson 24-6

Great to start off the new year with an 80% day. I'm confident that another winning weekend is at hand. Let's quickly review the keys for winning "Playoff Style" football and how they've changed over the years.

*I've always emphasized PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS for you on these pages. It's become clear to me that NOT having this kind of high impact player in the right position can be just as important in current-day football. There's no greater example of that than the Clemson loss this past Monday night. The Clemson quarterback had NO CHANCE to make any plays against the great Alabama defense. The Tigers couldn't score a single touchdown, and only got close in the final seconds of garbage time. Alabama won a blowout by default! The fact that Clemson DIDN'T have a meaningful playmaker determined which bettors got the money.

With that in mind, your first homework this week is to review the playmaking abilities of every playoff quarterback (including the two left in the colleges). Which are very likely to have a positive impact based on their current form and their career playoff performances (if any)? Which are very likely to struggle as badly (or comparably) as Clemson's quarterback? If you think of every playoff matchup as a "pitcher's duel" between quarterbacks…making playoff selections can become a very easy process.

Remember to focus on how each quarterback matches up against the defense they'll be facing this week. Georgia faced a much softer defense from Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. Are the Bulldogs ready for the big step up in class against Alabama's defense?

*I'm going to move COACHING up to number two in terms of this style of football. During the regular season, THE MOTIVATION FACTOR is number two. Everyone's motivated in the playoffs. Neither Alabama nor Georgia will be "flat" for Monday's title tilt. Maybe Georgia will be "tired" after playing a high scoring shootout. They'll still be motivated. It's COACHING that is going to be the second biggest factor behind PLAYMAKERS.

Oklahoma lost because Lincoln Riley was in over his head in the final minutes. I think that's obvious to all of you. It was a nice kicker to have up my sleeve (I needed it, as the PLAYMAKERS in that game largely cancelled each other out). Are there any NFL coaches this week who are likely to be just as inept when it's time to win straight up or cover the spread? On the other side of the coin, which head coaches have a proven track record in playoff style football?

Your second batch of homework is to research the straight up and ATS records in playoff games for all the remaining head coaches. You'll find some veterans you might not be able to trust as favorites. You'll find some relative newcomers who might lose their composure under pressure. You should also find some good value bets. I'm not going to give you any more hints than that. I'm confident your homework will be rewarded. Do the homework!

*Finally, I'm going to give you something to tune out. That's the easiest homework of all, isn't it? NOT doing something! Don't spend any time listening to the talking heads on all the TV preview shows this week. You know, the guys who all said Auburn would beat Central Florida, or the guys who said Clemson would prove it was "the real #1" against Alabama, or the guys who said the Philadelphia Eagles would be just fine with Nick Foles as quarterback. Don't listen to THOSE GUYS.

My goal in giving you homework is that it forces you to focus on the keys that matter most, while not listening to pundit jabber. If you do the work, you're smarter than they are. They only sound smart to people who don't do the work. Don't you ever forget that mainstream media members would go broke if they had to bet their opinions in Las Vegas.

If you find yourself needing additional help this weekend, my BEST BETS 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.

Between now and the weekend, my clients and I will be building our bankrolls with basketball. Among my recent winners was Texas Tech outright at Kansas Tuesday night. Kansas is a team that's surprisingly lacking in consistent playmakers this season. That's a well I'll be going back to a few more times this season whenever the Jayhawks are overpriced vs. a Dance-bound opponent. Grab your bucket.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your time and attendance. I trust 2018 will be even better for you than 2017 was. Get to work, and make some money!