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 - Aloha baby! Gonna surf out to Honolulu for a look at the Hawaii Bowl between Memphis and Hawaii. Yes, the Rainbow Warriors are the home team and the hosts, but they are a big FAT 10-point underdog. And the reason is the change in quarterbacks.
Chevan Cordeiro has ended his career at Hawaii to enter the transfer portal, and the Warriors will turn to freshman QB Brayden Schager. YUGE difference between these two. Chevan gobbled up 2,793 yards and tossed 17 TDs. Brayden had just 100 attempts, completed 65 (60.7 percent), but posted only two TDs and FIVE INTs. So, a little nervous about the QB change.
Memphis goes with another freshman, Seth Henigan, and he has ROCKED the offense in his first season. Henigan went air-crazy, passing for 3,322 yards, a Memphis record, and posted 25 TDs with only 8 INTs. Edge to Seth. However, the Tigers from Tennessee have been UGLIFIED on the road this season, with an OH & FIVE spread record.
They've won just two of the last five overall and covered only once. The winning margin the last two times out was just three points against SMU and five points against Tulane. But the Rainbows also lose top RB Dae Dae Hunter to the transfer portal as well. Just proofed this selection, would like to buy Hawaii plus double digits, but the conclusion is, wallet closed!
And after HOURS of EXTENSIVE research, they went and CANCELLED the game.
As you enjoy a little taste of whatever you like to taste on Christmas Eve, we'll look at the NFL action, starting with the Packers vs. the Browns. Just checked the COVID-19/injury lists and counted 30, yea THIRTY Cleveland players either out, questionable, or in the protocols. Green Bay didn't list as many, but MAN, this is impossible.
We know what the Packers can do with Aaron Rodgers, but the real question is, what about the Baker? Mayfield missed the Raiders game and is still listed as questionable. Guess the only path forward is waiting until they start warming up, and if the Baker is ready to go, then at +7.5, we'll take a little taste!
Colts vs Cardinals
We rode the Colts to a sweet win over the Patriots last week, and gotta look that way again. Indy has been a monster since the start of November, winning five of the last six. And the Colts have done some of their best work on the road. Actually PERFECT work. They roll into Arizona with a FIVE & OH spread perfecto on enemy turf and should get to 6-0.
Of course, they're gonna feed the NFL's leading rusher, Jonathan Taylor. The Cards gave up 126 rushing yards to Craig Reynolds and the Detroit Lions last week. Who? EXACTLY! If the Lions gobbled up over 100, Taylor should go nuts because 'Zona is 27th in the league in rushing yards per carry allowed. Love Kyler Murray, but ever since he came back from an injury that put him on the bench for three games, he has been just EH.
He was sacked seven times in his last three games, throwing just three TDs and three INTs. This AIN'T the same Kyler. It's kinda obvious that his confidence level has been SERIOUSLY affected by losing his No. 1 WR, DeAndre Hopkins. Another RINGER for the Horseshoes!
Eagles vs Giants
Sunday is Boxing Day around the world, and we're thinking that the Eagles are gonna KNOCK the Giants OUT! Philly has been on a sweet roll, winning five of their last six. Ask me about the only loss during that stretch. C'Mon, ask me? Okay, it was a 13-7 ugly at the NY Giants. So, REVENGE is on the table. The Green Birds were coming off an enormous 40-29 victory over the Broncos and obviously took their foot off the gas.
Philadelphia is still in the mix for a wild card and the way Jalen Hurts played on Tuesday night (20-of-26 for 296 yards), the Igles should romp. Gimme Philly, gimme a cheesesteak, and make sure you put on extra onions baabbbeee!!!
The Ecks & Bacon crew will be decorating the tree tonight, drinking some Baileys Irish Cream, and listening to 'Pretty Paper' by Willie Nelson. Wishing all of you a very merry Christmas!
And if you want more picks during the week on the college bowl board, PLZ hit me 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].