Las Vegas - As always, gonna smell some roses, but the garden is now in Arlington, Texas, instead of Pasadena at the actual Rose Bowl.
Alabama-Notre Dame Pick
Alabama is sitting at -20 and could win by 30 or more. But before we get too technical, lemme take you all the way back to 2003 and Super Bowl XXXVII. It was the Oakland Raiders vs the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Raiders were a -4 point favorite. Why not. The Silver & Black came in at 11-5, led the league in total passing yards (4,689) and ranked second in total yards gained (6,451). Rich Gannon had a Pro Bowl season, completing 418 out of 618 passes for 4,689 yards and 26 TDs.
On the Sunday morning of the Super Bowl, we find out that the Oakland center, Barret Robbins, the PRO BOWL CENTER, is missing. Not gonna get into the particulars, kinda sad, but you can Google it. In any case, without question, the center is the second most important piece of the offensive puzzle after the QB. And with Robbins out, we made one of the LARGEST BETS ever. As you might remember, the Raiders came up on the short end, the WWAAYY short end of a 48-21 score.
So, we're bringing that story to this Rose Bowl because of an injury to Alabama center, Landon Dickerson. Of course, 'Bama trots out phenomenal offensive lineman year after year, but losing Dickerson, one of the BEST in the country, is a tough pill to swallow. He is a Rimington Trophy Finalist, which is awarded to the best center in the country, and now he's gone. YUGE problem.
The Crimson Tide are like a multi-million dollar Ferrari on offense, and virtually unstoppable. The Fighting Irish will need to play WAY above their pay grade, limit turnovers to zero and pray that Mac Jones is just a tiny bit off of his game.
Not thinking for one tiny New York minute that Notre Dame is gonna crush the Tide like the Bucs did to the Raiders, but at PLUS TWENTY, we're taking a bite of the dog! A small to medium-sized bite because going against Nick Saban has dented my bank account more times than I would like to remember.
Clemson-Ohio State Pick
Swinging back to New Orleans and the Sugar Bowl, we're gonna have to roll with Clemson over Ohio State. The first thing that comes to mind is revenge for the Buckeyes. Last year, in this same spot, they lost to the Tigers, 29-23. Trevor Lawrence was pretty good (18/33, 259 yards), as was Justin Fields (30/46, 320 yards).
But we know that Fields has a thumb, well a bad thumb, actually a sprained thumb, and yup, it's the RIGHT THUMB! And since that is probably the most important finger when gripping the ball, that's a YUGE ISSUE. He hurt it against Northwestern and boy did it show. He was only 12 of 27 for a measly 114 yards, with NO TDs and TWO INTs.
Also thinking that the Buckeyes Big Ten slate was exceptionally weak, and of the six games they won, just TWO of those teams had a winning record. Speaking of winning records, Clemson has won 39 of its last 41! WHAT!!!
And YES, Dabo did provide some juicy bulletin-board material to jack up Ohio State, throwing shade at the Buckeyes for playing only six games. But the game is won ON the field, NOT on the bulletin board. Gonna roll with Dabo, and buy the hook down to -7.
As we close out a very strange year, from me, Mrs. Ecks & Bacon and all the little Bacon Bits here in Vegas, wishing you all a Happy & Healthy, and of course, profitable 2021!!!
NFL Week 17 Pick
OOPS, almost forgot my BEST BET for Sunday. TOO much Baileys Irish Cream. Sorry!
Gonna rock the Ravens -12 points over the Bengals. We Best Bet Baltimore last week against the Giants and it was a sweet W, so naturally, gotta comeback with the Jackson 11 against Cincy.
The Ravens were up 20-3 at the end of the 1st half and took their foot off the gas which made me a little nervous. Don't think they're gonna let up Sunday, because, with a win, they're IN!
Baltimore comes in EN FUEGO, with a 5-0 spread perfecto and on a 4-0 straight up run. They beat the Bengals back in October, 27-3, and that was WITH Joe Burrow at QB. The winning streak has seen them outscore the last four opponents, 148-86. And if you're thinking that Cincinnati might have a game like last week against Houston, scoring 37 points, UH UH! The Texans, even with J.J. Watt, have won of the worst defenses in the NFL.
If you need a stat that tells you how awful Cincy has been as an underdog, how about 5-28-1 the last 34 times out. There's just one thing left to say. This IS my BEST BET BAABBEEE!!!
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...firstname.lastname@example.org.