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 look at the opening game of the Western Conference final tonight, and it AIN’T L.A. against L.A., which everyone, including EVERY TV exec, was PRAYING for. Denver crashed the party and will provide some new blood in the NBA.
First, a look at what happened during the regular season. The first meeting was in Denver, and the Lakers (-2.5) posted a 105-96 win, with the total going UNDER 208. The Nuggets (+2.5) got some revenge in Los Angeles with a 128-104 W, and the total (208.5) was a no-doubt OVER.
Denver caught the Lake Show at home in the next meeting, and L.A. (-3) picked up a 120-116 victory, with the total (220.5) going OVER. The final meeting was in the bubble, and the Lakers (-5) squeezed out a 124-121 win, with the total (223.5) going OVER once again.
So, which way do we turn? Man, it’s tough.
Is your school of thought with Uncle Mo and the Nuggets after two DAZZLING escapes from 3-1 down against the Jazz and Clippers?
Or, the GREATEST player on skates, oops, in sneakers, LeBron, who has had six days to recharge his battery? My school is out on picking a Game 1 winner. Just gonna watch and see where the flow takes me. Actually, can’t just watch, so we’ll take a little taste of Kyle Kuzma’s total points. The OVER/UNDER is set at 10.5 points, and we’re gonna take The Kuz, or Kris Kross, and go OVER!
On the ice, no offense to all my Canadian friends, but do you think ANYONE is gonna be watching the Stars vs the Lightning??? Sure, they’ll be betting on it, but outside of Dallas and Tampa, and a few hot spots in Canada, the eyeballs will be scarce.
Hockey will be fighting with the NBA, MLB, UFC, soccer all over the world, the U.S. Open golf and a bunch of college football games. Still, there’s money on the table, and we’re gonna rake a few chips off with an underdog play on the Stars in Game 1.
You need some LOVE for Sunday’s NFL card? Gotcha.
Looking at the Bills -5.5 points over the Dolphins. Going ALL-IN on my favorite New York, actually, the ONLY team in New York, the Bills. Last season, the Buffs had no trouble with the Fish, posting a 31-21 win at home, and then an even easier 37-20 W down in Miami.
This game is really about a young gun who’s just starting to realize his potential, 24-year-old Josh Allen, against an aging, OK VERY old, well-traveled (eight different teams) veteran QB, 37-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick. Who needs to TRIM that beard.
One week doesn’t make a season, but the GIGANTIC stats gap between these two is Grand Canyon-esque. Allen was 33 of 46 for 312 yards, 2 TDs and NO INTs, while Fitzpatrick hit 20 of 30 for only 191 yards, with NO TDs and THREE INTs.
Fitz from Harvard gets the nod over Allen from Wyoming in the classroom. But we AIN’T ZOOMING today, we’re on the grass, and it’s gonna be an easy-breezy W for the Buffs. Only one thing left to say, and you know what’s coming, this IS my BEST BET, BAABBEEE!!!
EVERYONE thinks picking winners is easy. I got a guy who is flat-out MONEY picking stocks and commodities, and has made me a bundle of cash. I call him the Other Silver Brother, and his best bet is Seattle -4 points at home against the Patriots. Let’s see if he’s as good with the NFL market as he is with the stock market.
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.
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