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 — Didn’t know that Nick Saban was worth ONLY one and a half points. Yup. Alabama was sitting at -6 when they announced that Saban had tested positive for COVID-19. The line immediately dropped to -4.5. Thought that the SIX-TIME NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP COACH would be worth more than a point and a hook. Just sayin’.
Gonna hit the college board with a sweet three-team 10-point teaser to fatten up the bank account. Start up in the Carrier Dome where Liberty is favored by 3 points over Syracuse. LIBERTY??? Understand that the Orange lost their starting QB, Tommy DeVito, but LIBERTY?
The Flames, yeah, that’s the nickname, are 4-0 and have wins over Western Kentucky, Florida International, North Alabama and Louisiana-Monroe. NONE of ’em play in the ACC. Liberty does have some talent and a kid at QB that came from Auburn, graduate transfer Malik Willis, but still, we’re talkin’ LIBERTY! Put the ’Cuse in as the first leg of the tease, and bump them up from +3 to +13 points.
Drop down to Philly, and take the Temple Owls down from -11 to -1 point over South Florida. Close it out down south in Knoxville and take the visiting Kentucky Wildcats and bump them up from +6 to +16 points against Tennessee. By the way, we have pictures that we took like 30-plus years ago in the famous orange and white checkered end zone at Neyland Stadium. If you wanna see ’em, just yell.
Before we get to Sunday, got some exceptional boxing action for you with Vasily Lomachenko vs Teofimo Lopez. Have been watching boxing for many years and have never seen anything like Loma. From his bizarre training routines to his work inside the ring, NO MAS CHENKO is truly one of a kind.
After doing our homework and looking at Loma’s 14-1 record as a pro, we found a different story and a different record in his amateur career. If you’re sitting, the number is 396-1. Did I just say THREE HUNDRED NINETY-SIX AND ONE? I’ll take a minute while that drifts into your brain...
OK, we’re back. The only problem is “The Matrix” from the Ukraine is a YUGE favorite, currently sitting at -400. Not sure about laying such a large price, because we’ve looked at Lopez, and the kid is for REAL. He also hits like The Mountain from the Game of Thrones, so he has a puncher’s chance.
Here’s how we’re gonna dish out our cash. Gonna take Teofimo to win in the first round at +6500, the second round at +5000 and the third round at +5000. Just in case he catches Loma with a bomb.
And to cover the other side, there’s a Winning Group of Rounds prop, and we’ll drop some change on Vasily to win in the 10th-12th rounds at +1000. The best part is the fight is on ESPN and it’s FREE, or as my great buddy Mighty Quinn from the New York Daily News would say, SUL BRACCIO!!!
Moving to the NFL, we’ll start out in the early window and use the Panthers -1.5 points over the Bears. Gotta stand up and applaud Carolina head coach Matt Rhule and QB Teddy Bridgewater.
After the most devastating weapon in the NFL, Christian McCaffrey, went down, all the Panthers have done is win THREE in a row. What? Yeah, and the one and only Teddy Bridge is the reason. He’s smart, steady and accurate, hitting on 73 percent of his passes. Also note that Chicago has covered only five of the last 17 games overall and just two of seven on the road.
And now for your evening viewing pleasure, got the Rams -3 points over the 49ers. Any team that gets PULVERIZED by the Dolphins should immediately be BANNED from the NFL. Still trying to wrap my head around Miami’s stunning 43-17 win last week AT San Francisco. UGLY doesn’t even come close.
You can blame part of it on Jimmy Garoppolo’s cranky ankle if you want. He was 7-for-17 for 77 yards and was benched for CJ Beathard. No offense to Bobby Beathard’s grandkid, but CJ has just as many career INTs (13) as he does TDs (13). And apparently, the 49ers defense is MIA because FitzMagic picked ’em apart, hitting on 22 of 28 for 350 yards and three TDs.
That should make Jared Goff very happy, because he’s finding his own magic this season, clicking on 72 percent of his passes, with six TDs and just two INTs. But Vic, the Niners do have two wins. Yeah, sure, against the OH AND FIVE Giants and the OH AND FIVE Jets. And since the Rams have covered 10 of the last 13 (77%) on the road, there’s only 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.