Wayne Root: Finding Upsets over Thanksgiving/Rivalry Weekend
Thanksgiving Weekend is an ideal time for finding UPSETS in the college and pro football cards because distractions only increase. It’s hard enough for players to stay focused on the task at hand late in a season. This week there’s a holiday too!
I’m not going to talk about specific upsets I’m considering this weekend. And, the first two NFL games Thursday are at pick-em right now anyway…meaning an upset can’t happen if the line doesn’t move! I will talk generally about why upsets often happen over the course of Thanksgiving Weekend.
IN THE NFL
There are usually a handful of teams who hit a wall after playing great through midseason. It’s as if the arrival of Thanksgiving gives them a reason to take their foot off the gas. Something similar happened to Cincinnati a week-ago Monday against Houston. It wasn’t a holiday. But, that’s the kind of performance I’m talking about. A hot team with a great record is suddenly flat as a pancake. Upset fodder. It’s like the college basketball powers in February who start to think about March Madness. Playoff-bound NFL teams are prone to lose focus in late November and early December.
Also, we have several small favorites this weekend who really aren’t very good. They haven’t established the consistency it takes to be a playoff threat. But, they’re playing another team in the same boat around a holiday. Who’s going to show up and play hard? You’d be surprised how often it’s the home favorite that plays flat. The road team is mad about being away from home on a holiday weekend and develops an “us against the world” attitude. The hosts focused on family rather than their assignments.
IN THE COLLEGES
I’ve already been emphasizing to you the role of the championship committee rankings in generating underdog covers. That’s still very much in play as high profile teams get nervous with a target on their backs, while motivated underdogs look to make a statement in a big TV game. Please tell me you’ve been paying attention to THAT!
The most important thing, though, about this coming weekend is the preponderance of RIVALRY games. Man are these great for upset calls! Be sure you pay close attention to underdogs who will treat THIS as their bowl game because they won’t be able to qualify for the postseason. And, if the underdog has revenge off a loss to the same opponent last year, so much the better. Intangibles can really pile up on certain underdogs in ways that must be attacked. Just be sure that you have offenses who can score. I’ve been telling you that for years. You’re not going to get the upset unless your motivated dog can get to the end zone against the flat favorite they’re up against.
Also, you should be looking for underdogs who MUST win to earn a bowl bid when they’re matched up against a favorite that has nothing to play for. You’re going to come across several games this week and next where the favorite has already qualified for a bowl, but has already been eliminated from winning their divisional or conference championship. No motivation for this kind of favorite! Even if the underdog doesn’t have a chance to earn a bowl bid, they could offer value.
Too many of you tend to make pick with your gut rather than with INFORMATION. This is a good week in the colleges to write down every team’s won-lost record in your schedule. That will help you find underdogs who will make their next game a top priority…as well as favorites who don’t have any reason to bring fire. It wouldn’t hurt to study the standings either, just to make sure you know what’s at stake in all the divisional races. Sometimes Las Vegas handicappers get tunnel vision on Power Ratings or computer ratings and forget about motivation. YOU should be motivated to avoid that pitfall over Thanksgiving Weekend in particular.
You may have received a bulletin in your mailbox about my annual Turkey Shoot. I’ve never lost one! I went 10-4 last year for 71.4%...including a few situational Game of the Year cashers. Join the fun this year right here at the website. If you have any questions, please talk to one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155 Wednesday while you still have time to take care of business.
I’ll be back again after Thanksgiving to talk about the big NFC East game this Sunday matching the New York Giants and Washington Redskins. I’ve been keeping you abreast of New York football all season because of my roots in that area. This will be one of the most important games of the season for a NY team.
Thanksgiving Weekend is going to be a 5-Day Feast of Underdog Upsets, Gift Games, and Lopsided Laughers. Winning is my family tradition! That means it’s time for YOU to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!
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