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Las Vegas Expert Betting Picks: College Football Playoff, NFL

Kyler Murray #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates after defeating the West Virginia Mountaineers 59-56 on November 23, 2018 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three decades of experience to make weekly picks in his “Ecks & Bacon” column.

NCAAF picks

LAS VEGAS — Here we go, yo. Gonna kick off Semifinal Saturday with Notre Dame (12-0) +13 points over Clemson (13-0). You might be looking at +12.5 tomorrow morning, and if so, buy the hook. And you probably know that the reason the line dropped a bit is that Clemson’s stud tackle, Dexter Lawrence, has been suspended.

We know that Dabo has built a deep team, but losing a star on the D-line might hurt. Another concern is, with the exception of a 27-23 win over Syracuse, the Tigers’ average margin of victory is 22 points per game. Blowout City, as Dicky V would say.

What happens when things get tight in the fourth quarter, and Clemson’s freshman QB starts getting a little nervous? Hmmmmm. On the other side, half of Notre Dame’s games have finished with margins of 10 points or less. There’s a bunch of fight in the Irish this season, and while Dabo and his kids might make it to the final, this double-digit dog looks VERY tasty.

In the nightcap, we’re looking at +14 with Oklahoma. Of course, Alabama is the absolute gold standard of college football, but man, the Sooners can put some points on the board. And how you gonna lay TWO touchdowns with a quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, who just had some kind of ankle surgery like three weeks ago? Not me. So, if you think the mighty SEC can’t be held tight, check this out. Last year, pretty much the same Oklahoma team, with Baker Mayfield at QB, gave Georgia all it could handle in the Rose Bowl, before losing 54-48. My math skills tell me that’s only six points.

OU’s quarterback is now Kyler Murray, another Heisman Trophy winner, who is cut in the same mold as Mayfield, definitely faster, and a touch more accurate. Murray’s numbers were OFF the chain. He posted a 70.9 percent completion rate, with 51 TDs, yeah FIFTY-ONE (40 air, 11 rushing) and just seven INTs. And how about almost 900 yards on the ground. Looked at the Crimson Tide’s 13-0 and they really played only three teams worth mentioning: LSU, Auburn and Georgia.

And NONE of ’em is anything like the Sooners. Totally understand that the Tide’s D-line is magnificent, and gets a ton of ink, but bet that you didn’t know the Okies won the Joe Moore Award as the best offensive line, allowing only 16 sacks all season. Not about to take the moneyline with the Sooners, which is +450, but the PLUS-14 is gonna be a BEST BET BABY!!!

NFL pick

On Sunday, looking at the Seahawks -13 points over the Cards. Last week, double-digit favorites covered only one of five, so why make love to a DD fav this week? And with a team that is locked in at the fifth seed? Home field, with the ridiculous ear-splitting 12th Man noise, and, of course, Pete Carroll. Looked back on Seattle’s playoff history, and how they handled the final game of the regular season.

Ease off the gas pedal and rest players, or fire up the troops and make sure Uncle MO is on the sidelines moving forward? It’s Uncle Momentum all the way. Starting back in 2010, when PC took over, the ’Hawks have been to the playoffs six times. What is their record in the season finale? Yeah, a 6-0 PERFECTO! And fortunately, they have Arizona coming to town, which is just one big STINK.

The Cards have lost six of the last seven and been overwhelmed the last three games in particular, by a combined score of 87-26. That’s an average loss of 21 ppg, and that’s why this is my NFL BEST BET BABY!

PLZ enjoy a safe, happy, healthy & PROFITABLE new year!!!

And plz, PLZ hit me on Twitter over the weekend, @vegasvigorish, just in case anything pops on the college hoop board.

Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America’s Line, with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and over 100 other papers since 1988. You can follow him online at www.americasline.com. He is beloved by most, when he picks winners, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. If you wanna piece of Eck, hit his email...ben@americasline.com.

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