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Las Vegas Expert Picks: NFL

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL's first game of the 2021-2022 season.

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 — Take a breath, a DEEP breath. Yeah, it’s the opening game of the NFL season, and you’ve been waiting since last February to unload, but PLZ, take a breath. We have been yelling about Week 1 every year, and suggesting that since the information available is limited, especially with ONLY three preseason games, your bets should be skinny.

With every LEGAL sportsbook coming at you with crazy offers and promotions, it’s not easy to be patient. But you don’t wanna blow your stash in the first week. So, maybe half of what you normally bet, or for me, it’s a quarter of my usual. OK, now that we’ve thrown out our yearly advice, on to the game.

NFL Pick

So, it’s the G.O.A.T. vs the Dak. Lemme throw some spread numbers at you to start the ball rolling. The defending Super Bowl champs posted a 15-5 straight-up record, 12-8 against the spread. The Bucs covered five of eight at home and were just average, 7-7, as a favorite. They went OVER 11 times and UNDER 9. At home, it was four OVERs and four UNDERs.

As for the Cowboys, they put up a 6-10 overall record, 5-11 against the spread. They were 2-6 on the road and 4-3 as an underdog. The ’Boys went OVER nine times and UNDER seven. On the road, it was three OVERs and five UNDERs.

We know what Tom Brady brings to the table, but what about Dak Prescott? He hasn’t played in almost a year after suffering a broken ankle in Game 5 against the New York Giants. He also had to deal with a strained throwing shoulder and did not play ONE SNAP in the preseason.

So, where is Dak on the road back? Dak says he’s ready to rumble, but there have been some rumblings that he AIN’T all the way back. And if Dallas has to turn to Ben DiNucci or Cooper Rush at QB, that is BIG-TIME trouble. Also, there’s a good chance that one of Dak’s horses up front, six-time Pro Bowl RG Zack Martin, might not play due to COVID-19 protocols.

If you were brilliant, you coulda taken Tampa Bay -6.5 when the line opened, buy back Dallas today at +8.5, and have a GORGEOUS MIDDLE with the KEY number 7 sitting in your pocket!

So, we’re leaning ever so slightly to TB12 and the Bucs, but not thrilled about laying a snowman and a hook. Actually saw Tampa -9.5 at one offshore book. However, we will be watching very carefully for some delicious in-game betting options.


I’ll be on Twitter and Instagram, both handles are @vegasvigorish, and looking to make some cheese for my fabulous readers!

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...ben@americasline.com.