NFL Rules Changes Have Helped Scoring

In recent weeks we've been discussing how the evolution of pro football might help or hurt scoring totals in the 2018 season. I've given homework that would help you handicap in either direction. Now 17 games into the new season, it looks like scoring is going to be helped...at least until more quarterbacks get injured!

Here were the two competing points of view:

*Scoring would be HELPED because rules changes involving illegal hits were doing to discourage defenses from playing too aggressively. That would open up the field for more pass completions. And, it would also increase the number of penalties that helped opposing offenses move the chains. (You've probably noticed already that many shots to the quarterback are coming on third and long...because that's such an obvious passing down.)

*Scoring would be HURT because head coaches are forced to play very safely to avoid injuries to their starting quarterbacks. We saw this during the preseason dress rehearsals a few weeks ago. It's an enormous risk leaving your QB in the pocket long enough for downfield routes to develop. And, doing that over-and-over again all day has its own risks too. Even if rules changes provided some boost to offenses, that would be more than counter-acted by the need to keep high-paid game changes from taking too many hits.

Though dress rehearsals were largely dead, and last Thursday's season opener between Atlanta and Philadelphia struggled to see many points scored...the league as a whole has definitely trended toward a much higher scoring place. Last night's Baltimore/Cincinnati game was the most recent example. It was 28-14 at halftime against a full-game Over/Under of 45 because of open passing lanes and offense-friendly officiating. That was Cincinnati's second-straight 34-23 game! This from a team that struggled offensively last season.

Now, I 'm not suggesting that you go out and bet Overs on every single Sunday game. For one thing, the market has made some adjustments already. That posted mark of 45 was already high for an early season divisional rivalry game matching inconsistent offenses. It's not like oddsmakers and pro bettors aren't aware there were rules changes. It's your job to think about which teams are MOST helped by these new dynamics.

In my mind, we're talking about:
*Veteran quarterbacks with pocket sense
*Offenses with a variety of receiving threats
*Head coaches with offensive backgrounds

Teams least likely to enjoy benefits would naturally be the following:
*Young quarterbacks in their first two years as starters
*Offenses with only one or two true receiving threats
*Head coaches with defensive backgrounds

Those lists set up your homework for this week. You can take them in any order you wish. I believe all students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping should spend some time this weekend on the following exercise.

EXERCISE #1
Go through QB biographies and count up career starts for every current starting and backup quarterback (you'll need to know the backups soon enough...Joe Flacco threw 55 passes in Cincinnati!). Plan on writing those into your schedules next to every team name. It's almost like a pitching matchup in baseball...except you're putting a number on experience instead of using ERA or an analytics stat. I think you'll notice right away that many veterans put up big passing totals last week.

EXERCISE #2
From your summer studies on PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS in the NFL, determine how many true receiving threats each offense has. While wide receivers are important...don't just look at those. Some offenses make great use of their tight ends. Several running backs are dangerous on swing passes. You want to bet on offenses who can spread defenses around. And, any mix of a veteran quarterback AND receiving variety is going to be huge.

EXERCISE #3
You should know the backgrounds of current head coaches. But, if you don't, make notes from research for all 32 on whether they came up as offensive coordinators or defensive coordinators...or whether their current reputations are for leading great offenses or great defenses. I'm now of the belief that many defensive-minded head coaches could be at a disadvantage this season because "aggressiveness" and intimidation tactics are now being so harshly penalized. Keep that in the back of your mind as you evaluate.

Today's homework will serve you well this weekend, through September, and through the full season no matter what direction things eventually head. I'm pleased so many of you have committed to doing my assignments. YOU KNOW THEY WORK!

For those of you who prefer more direct guidance, or don't have the time to fully commit to in-depth do-it-yourself analysis, KELSO STURGEON'S top plays can always be purchased at this website by credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the office by calling office at 1-800-755-2255 during normal business hours.

Thanks again to all of you who signed up last week for my 200-unit winner on Boise State (-) over Connecticut. If you missed my recap, please check this website's archives to read that tutorial. Everything we've taught for years on these pages paid off in a harmonic convergence of factors. It's great to know that it will be happening again throughout the 2018 college and pro seasons.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping is humbled by the success of this web feature over the years. If you're new to the website, our coursework runs every Monday and Friday afternoon. I'll offer a mix of college and pro football through autumn...with a side trip for Major League Baseball once the playoffs arrive. Have a great weekend. See you on Monday.