Thinking about sports betting as a profitable hobby, and I realize that my very best bets are ones that I don't even have to handicap. If I watch a game every day; record box scores; and plan my bets in advance I know a good bet at a glance. It's not guessing. It's using that part of your mind that you cannot consciously access. Once you build a database in your mind of events and images, your mind does a pattern recognition thing when you see a winning bet, a trap line, or a bad bet.
You can read about this in a book called Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. He has researched the ability of people in various professions to recognize in seconds what a lay person would not recognize even after hours of research.
The point is that I don't use statistical spreadsheets or systems approaches to handicap sports. It is intuitive. Still, even if you use intangibles as your betting edges, they can be defined.
1. Motivational edges.
Bet on capable teams that are in a motivational mismatch with their opponents. They may be avenging a loss to this team, or their opponent may have beaten them consistently over previous seasons, or may be in a look-ahead situation to a more important game. Revenge and look-ahead plays on teams getting points are great motivational plays.
2. Plays on the Line.
The oddsmaker does not just handicap on power rankings. They consider other factors too, and will occasionally put a line on a game that looks too good to be true. Usually it will be a favorite laying very few points. On the Forum we call those "trap" lines. I don't know how they do it, but I know they hire good people, and are good at what they do. I fade the public when I see a trap line, which means I take the unlikely underdog and too few points. (LA Clippers vs Lakers in their last game.)
Usually "trap" lines have an explanation, and you can find it if you look at the two teams' history, or their upcoming games. It goes back to motivational plays.
By defining what my two edges are and sticking to bets that have those edges, I avoid guessing, which is what most sports bettors are doing. I have very limited action, and focus on games that elicit a tangible feeling of excitement when I look at the line or the situation surrounding the game. My handicapping has an emotional component. When I can't wait to get down on a game, my unconscious mind is telling me that the game fits a pattern.
Spend the time to build a solid frame of reference for your chosen sport, then trust your instincts.