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Bettors Need To Begin Each Football Season Understanding They Know Little Or Nothing

By Kelso Sturgeon

It is a wise man who understands he does not know everything, a thought the brilliant scholar, thinker and philosopher Aristotle expressed on his death bed 2,034 years ago. I am no Aristotle but I am quick to acknowledge at the beginning of each football season that as much as I really know I know little or nothing. Sure, the New England Patriots are again favored to win the Super Bowl. And, yes, we know college teams such as Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma will be very good but what about all the rest—the 31 additional NFL teams and the other 146 NCAA schools?

Bettors will wager on/against the five teams listed above with reasonable knowledge they know what they are getting. As for the other 177 teams the average handicapper knows little, maybe nothing. My position after more than 40 years in the football betting arena is that I know nothing about the 177. My slate is blank and I make no assumption about how they will perform.
More questions than answers in the NFL and you can triple that for the colleges.

Are the pundits and many NFL coaches right when they say the Cleveland Browns (1-31 the past two seasons) will have a respectable year with newly acquired quarterback Tyrod Taylor (formerly the starter at Buffalo) running the offense? Did Kansas City do the right thing when it sent veteran QB Alex Smith packing and replace him with second-year pro Patrick Mahomes II (Texas Tech). With Smith now the starter at Washington will the Redskins finally escape the world of mediocrity? Is he better than Kirk Cousins who will now call the shots at Minnesota?

The biggest sin football bettors commit is handicapping teams on the basis of what they have done recently and more often than not what they remember from last season. To do that is to flirt with losing everything in the first month of the season, because most of the 177 can change dramatically from one season to the next, for better or worse. One must do his homework before each season and then have the knowledge to bet on what a team is now, and not what it was in the past. In a world ruled by points and half points, there is no other choice.

It is interesting bookmakers early in the season often make betting lines based on the past and that makes them vulnerable n many games each week, especially in contests involving teams of lesser status. If you are up to date and have a current number on these off-the-beaten-path teams the money is there for the taking.


It Begins With The Bears vs. Ravens on NBC-TV (8pm) Thursday, August 2
In The Hall Of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio

Winning In The Pre-Season Is Determined By Just Two Handicapping Factors

(1.) Iside Information (2.) A Coach's record in these games.

"Inside information" is an overused term during the regular season but not during the Pre-Season. It exists and one must uncover it to determine a team's game plan, what facet of its game it is working on and keep in mind both coaches meet beforehand to discuss what they hope to accomplish in these glorified practice games.

The coaching  factor. Coaches have a history in Pre-Season games. For instance Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh is 28-12 in Pre-Season games, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer is 14-3 and Washington's Jay Gruden is 11-5. Simply put, some coaches like to win early, while winning means little to others.

But a coach's record in these games reveals another solid statistic which can reveal a team's intent in each week of the Pre-Season. Harbaugh is 9-1 in the first game of Pre-Season football, while New England's Bill Belichick is 12-7 in week one. At the other end of the spectrum, in week four. New Orleans Sean Payton is 1-11. Needless to say, these are solid tell-tale trends that can give one a BIG EDGE.

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  • Profiled in:Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Chicago Tribune,Washington Post and NY Daily News.
  • Author: The Complete Guide To Sports Betting (Harper & Row).
  • Winner of Vegas Handicapping Challenge, Sands Football Tournament & Public Handicapper Online Challenge