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2022 Playbook Football 10 Questions Interviews

1. When did you begin handicapping sports professionally, and how did you get started?
The first sports wagering I recall doing was running weekly fantasy hockey games in my 7th grade algebra class. While in college I connected with an established handicapper and began doing part-time work and things took off from there.
2. Who has most influenced your handicapping career?
Rather than citing a specific handicapping style influence, I credit the work ethic and straightforward fair approach to my parents and an early high school employer. I am looking to stand out for providing a consistent quality approach and treating clients with great respect, rather than a path of chasing quick dollars with misleading information like unfortunately some in this industry have chosen. Marc has certainly been a respected voice and influence in this industry for decades and continues to provide great results.

3. What is your primary method approach to handicapping sports?
There is a huge data component of the process, and I am a proponent of a thorough schedule analysis to find inefficiencies that may be missed in standard matchup evaluations. Marketplace analysis is also a critical component in the current landscape.
4. What is the biggest score you've made in your sports wagering career?
Every 'score' should come within the framework of a consistent methodology and approach but a recent highlight that stands out was making my biggest play of the 2021-22 college football season in late September, much earlier in the calendar than I usually would post a top game. Arkansas won outright by double-digits as an underdog against a highly ranked Texas A&M squad for a big early boost in a strong college season.

5. What is the worst bad beat you've suffered in your sports wagering career?
One game I still consistently look back on with disgust was backing Oregon (+3) against Stanford in the 2018 season. The Ducks led 24-7 at halftime before an 80-yard fumble return by Stanford late in the third quarter put the Cardinal back in the game. Oregon still led by 10 with fewer than five minutes remaining and later fumbled with a three-point lead in the final minute, when they could have taken a knee and ran out the clock entirely. Stanford tied the game as regulation expired and won by seven in overtime in a crushing result.

6. Who are your favorite NFL and College Football teams, and why?
I spent a lot of time in Minnesota in my childhood, so I technically am a relatively fair-weather Vikings fan, a painful pursuit, but one that is difficult to quit. I am a Wisconsin graduate so will cheer for the Badgers unless there is a good opportunity on the other side. Ultimately fandom allegiances leave you quickly as a full-time handicapper.

7. Which NFL and College Football teams do you feel will be the biggest surprise in 2022?
I think this could be a season where UCLA ascends back to national prominence even in a season where USC is getting a lot of attention. The Bruins will have a very favorable schedule this season after battling very difficult non-conference paths in most seasons under Chip Kelly. In the NFL, the Saints should still be highly relevant NFC contenders even with many expecting a decline with the coaching change, as the NFC race may be wide open this season.

8. Which NFL and College Football teams do you feel will be the biggest disappointment in 2022?
Texas falling short of expectations yet again looks likely. The Longhorns must play Alabama early in the season and the Big XII will remain a deep league with most teams capable of playing with the Longhorns. Texas has difficult home games in the conference season and won't be able to transform its defense into a contender quickly like some expect. They will also rely on a highly regarded quarterback that hasn't taken a snap yet.

9. Do you feel the College Football Playoff should expand, and if so to how many teams?
It inevitably will expand but I am content with the current system. There have been very few seasons in this format where a fifth team has featured an overwhelming case for inclusion, most seasons the #4 seeds didn't even have a truly worthy resume. The history of the CFP semifinals is mostly one of blowouts and expansion likely makes those lopsided games more common. I'd rather see more meaningful early season interconference games that could serve as comparison games for CFP elimination. I am very interested in the growing proposal to have some bowl games early in the season rather than continuing the road of glorified exhibitions with many key players opting out in the current format.
10.What is your best handicapping advice heading into the 2022 football season?
As I mentioned in Marc's excellent 2022 Playbook Football Preview Magazine, it is very rarely worth buying points to reach key numbers in the NFL anymore. Scoring has increased in recent years and more and more coaches are playing the percentages on 2-point conversion attempts as the probability of games landing on 3 and 7 is decreasing. It is simply not worth the inflated juice in most NFL games.

   Joe Nelson   

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