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 — Before we get to the NFL, gonna hoop it up down in Florida. Whole lotta negative swirl around the Lakers the last few days, and Orlando is the perfect spot for the Purple & Gold to turn it around.
The Magic are anything but magic, with the WORST record in the NBA at 8-38. They’ve lost 13 of the last 14, and the last three have not been close. It was Dallas 108-92, Portland 98-88 and Philly 123-110.
LeBron and the Lake Show are certainly in a funk, losing four of the last five. But with all the noise about Frank Vogel getting fired and Russell Westbrook struggling, expect the Lakers to come out strong, and wrap up a double-digit W. Disney+ just ordered “The Crossover” from King James and his production company and if LeBron is off tonight and pitching another TV show, then we just squash this bet.
Cincinnati vs Tennessee
Tomorrow, we’ll kick it off in Music City and look at Tennessee against Cincinnati. First, scroll with me back to 2020 when these teams met in Cincy. Joe Burrow was pretty, pretty good, hitting on 26 of 37 (70 percent) for 249 yards, with two TDs and no INTs. Ryan Tannehill was just 18 of 30 for 233 yards with two TDs and one INT.
Of course, Derrick Henry got his 112 yards rushing, but the real question here is, if he’s healthy, HOW healthy is he? He has not played since the end of October and NO ONE knows how his broken foot will react. And with Henry, D’Onta Foreman or anyone else, we can tell you that the Bengals were exceptional against the run this season (fifth in the NFL), allowing just 102.5 yards per game.
YES, we have seen Cincy’s big fat OH & SEVEN record on the road in the playoffs, but guess what, Burrow did NOT play in ANY of those games. And neither did budding superstar WR Ja’Marr Chase. In the games that both of those LSU alums played on the road this season, the Bengals covered six of the last seven for a gorgeous 86 percent.
Here are your must-have spread stats for each team. The Titans’ overall spread record was 10-7, 4-5 as a favorite, 6-3 at home, with eight OVERs and nine UNDERs. Cincy’s overall spread record is sitting at 11-7, 6-3 as an underdog, 6-2 on the road, with eight OVERs and 10 UNDERs.
Unfortunately, Cincinnati will be without one of its key defensive players, DT Larry Ogunjobi, and that might be an issue. But we’re hearing that Pro Bowl DE Trey Hendrickson has been cleared from the concussion protocol and should be ready to rumble. That’s a BIG DEAL because Trey finished fifth in the league in sacks with 14. So, we’re gonna hunker down with Burrow and see if we can (Ja’Marr) Chase some money into the bank account.
San Francisco vs Green Bay
In the late game, basically impossible to pick a side here without knowing the scope of Jimmy Garoppolo’s shoulder strain. Add that to the torn ligaments in his right thumb and there might be some problems. Just as big of a problem is superstar DE Nick Bosa, who sustained a concussion last week against the Cowboys, not to mention LB Fred Warner, who sprained his right ankle.
In the third week of the regular season, these guys played in Santa Clara, and Green Bay squeezed out a 30-28 win. Aaron Rodgers was on target as usual, completing 23 of 33 for 261 yards, two TDs and no INTs. And Davante Adams went OFF, grabbing 12 balls for 132 yards. Jimmy G didn’t have a sprained shoulder or torn ligaments in his right thumb in that game, and was only 25 of 40 for 257 yards, with two TDs and one INT.
Green Bay has been EXCEPTIONAL at home this season, actually PERFECT, with an 8-0 straight-up record and 7-1 against the spread.
Here are the rest of your must-have spread stats for each team. The Packers’ overall spread record was 12-5, 8-5 as a favorite, 7-1 at home, with eight OVERs and nine UNDERs. San Francisco’s overall spread record is now 10-8, 3-1 as an underdog, 6-4 on the road, with eight OVERs and 10 UNDERs.
Not thrilled about laying 6 points against a San Francisco team that knows how to run the ball, but gonna turn into a Cheesehead for 60 minutes and take a little taste of the Packers and Mr. Rodgers.
Los Angeles vs Tampa Bay
On Sunday, always tough to go against Tom Brady, but this MOB of Rams is dangerous. Yes, MOB. You can also call ’em a herd, but MOB sounds more menacing. We were all over the Rams this past Monday night and the main reason was the scary delicious combo of Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr.
Almost impossible to cover both of these guys, and when you do, it opens up the run game. Look at what happened against Arziona. Kupp (5) and OBJ (4) combined for only nine grabs, but Sony Michel and Cam Akers were able to gobble up 113 yards on the ground. We looked at the first game between these two, and while they were certainly different teams, it was the same two quarterbacks.
Matthew Stafford was fabulous in that 34-24 win, hitting on 27 of 38 for 343 yards with FOUR TDs and ZERO INTs. And that was WITHOUT Odell! TB12 went nuts too, completing 41 of 55 for 432 yards, but the running game (35 yards) was a ghost.
Here are the must-have spread stats for each team. The Bucs’ overall spread record was 10-8, 10-8 as a favorite, 7-2 at home, with nine OVERs and nine UNDERs. The Rams’ overall spread record is sitting at 9-9, 2-0 as an underdog, 4-5 on the road, with nine OVERs, eight UNDERs and one push.
Gonna drop a few chips on this MOB of Rams, as they look to banish Brady from the playoffs. Coulda said BUTT Tom out of the playoffs, but that woulda been too easy.
Buffalo vs Kansas City
On what is expected to be a cold night in Kansas City, we can tell you that the Chiefs are coming into this matchup on FIRE! They have won 10 of the last 11 straight up and covered seven of the last nine. Lemme take you back to the regular season – October 10 to be exact – when Buffalo rocked the Chiefs 38-20 in Kaycee.
Patrick Mahomes was kinda struggling, Kansas City had lost two of three coming in, and Josh Allen had a superb effort. Well, we can say that Mahomes is NOT struggling any more. In the wild-card game last Sunday, Patrick busted up the Steelers, hitting on 30 of 39 for 404 yards and FIVE TDs!
Here are your spread stats for each team. The Chiefs’ overall spread record is 9-9, 9-9 as a favorite, 5-5 at home, with 11 OVERs and seven UNDERs. The Bills’ overall spread record is now 10-6-2, 2-1 as an underdog, 5-3 on the road, with nine OVERs and nine UNDERs.
Not sure why the “smart money” is all over the Buffs, but at home, in the playoffs, riding a 5-0 streak, laying ONLY 1.5 points, gotta get some of that Mahomes Magic and take it right to the bank.
And if you want some winners over the weekend, PLZ hit me on Instagram. I will be doing quick 15- to 30-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...email@example.com.