Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three decades of experience to make weekly picks in his “Ecks & Bacon” column.
LAS VEGAS — Gonna take a look at Leicester City over Newcastle United over in the Premier League, and this is all about the Foxes. Lester is sitting in the third slot with 63 points and a win here would come close to getting them a ticket to the next UEFA Champions League party.
And with their last three games coming up against Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham, this is the primo spot for a W. Why? Newcastle is floundering in 17th place and does not have much to stoke the internal fire. If you wanna talk goal differential, there’s a FORTY-TWO point gap between these two teams. Lester has scored 61 goals and allowed 39 for a +22 goal differential. Newcastle has scored only 36 goals and allowed 56 for a MINUS 20 differential.
Playing the Foxes will be pricey, around -240, so we understand if you wanna stay away. But here’s a delicious prop bet. The Magpies have scored a league-low 33 percent of their goals in the first half of games this season, and they have only been ahead at halftime in four of the 34 games played. So, we pound Lester to win the first half at around -120, and you can BOOK IT!
With a six-game winning streak on the way to the NUMBER ONE seed in the East, we’re not expecting the Sixers to put it on cruise control now. Joel Embiid and the kids covered five of the last six, and since they have the BEST HOME RECORD in the conference at 25-7, playing all the games at Wells Fargo to the Finals would be YUGE!
There’s also a little matter of revenge at play since the Pelicans beat the Sixers 101-94 down in New Orleans back in April. But, the 76ers were coming off a gigantic 106-96 win against the Celtics IN Boston, and obviously there was a dramatic letdown. Zion went off for 37 points and 15 boards in that game, but that AIN’T gonna happen again. Also note that the Pels’ other superstar, Brandon Ingram, is OUT. Sixers for the MONEY!
Hang with me for another minute. Got an either/or for Philly. If the Sixers handle the Pelicans tonight, then we would take a STRONG look at the Pistons tomorrow. Detroit will be getting double digits and we would expect Doc Rivers to rest some of his stars. Of course, if the 76ers lose to New Orleans tonight, then we would come back with BOTH hands on Philly tomorrow.
Finally, we step on to the baseball diamond in St. Louis and grab Jack Flaherty over the Rockies. Tough to buck perfection. Flaherty is sitting at 5-0, yeah, FIVE & OH, and has been exceptional at home. In two starts in St. Loo, he has allowed only two earned runs over 12 innings, which translates to a 1.50 ERA. Oh, and don’t forget about 12 Ks in 12 frames. Gimme the Redbirds!
And if you’re looking for winners during the week, we got ’em on Instagram. I will be doing quick 15-second picks at www.instagram.com/vegasvigorish!
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 protected].