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Las Vegas Expert Picks: NFL Conference Championships

The Kansas City Chiefs exit the tunnel onto the field during player introductions prior to the AFC Divisional round playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts at Arrowhead Stadium on January 12, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three decades of experience to make weekly picks in his “Ecks & Bacon” column.

NFC pick

LAS VEGAS — Here we go again. Two revenge games on the table on Championship Sunday. Will it be more of the same, or a complete turnaround? In the NFC title tilt, we’re looking for more of the same and gonna buy the Saints -3 points over the Rams, as Drew Brees makes it to Super Sunday one more time.

Gotta go back to the Week 9 game that ended in a Madden-like 45-35 final in favor of the Saints. Brees absolutely toyed with the Rams defense, completing 25 of 36 for 346 yards, with four TDs and no INTs. L.A.’s Jared Goff was pretty good as well, not as good, hitting on 28 of 40 for 391 yards, with three TDs and one INT.

A quick pit stop for some all-important spread stats. The Saints posted a 10-7 overall record, 4-5 at home and 6-8 as a favorite. The Rams’ overall spread record was 8-7-2. They were just average on the road at 4-4, and were never an underdog.

We talked about the QBs, but how about the ground game. Los Angeles totally destroyed the Cowboys last week, rumbling for 273 yards. Nice work against the No. 7 run D in the NFL. New Orleans has the No. 2 run D in the league, and the Rams ain’t running wild this week. Looking in the other direction, the Saints can rumble too. The duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram gobbled up 115 yards against L.A. in the first meeting, 124 last week against the Eagles (No. 6-rated run defense), and should be able to find some daylight against a Rams team that is ranked 20th against the run.

My main concern with L.A. is that they found six of their 13 wins against the NFC West, maybe the weakest division in the league. And once they hit the road, they were 0-3-1 against the spread against teams with winning records.

And after checking the stats on Sean Payton, specifically his work at home in the playoffs, he’s won all six of his postseason games in Louisiana. That’s good enough to drop this one into the BEST BET BABY territory!!

AFC pick

In the late game, we’re rocking the Chiefs -3 points over the Patriots.

EIGHTY-TWO! Why am I screaming? ’Cause everyone considers Bill Belichick a defensive “genius” and this keyboard begs to differ. Back to 82. That’s how many points the Chiefs laid on Belichick the last two times out. The Patriots beat Kaycee 43-40 back in October AT, yes all caps, AT Foxborough. In last season’s opener, AT, yes all caps, Foxborough, Kaycee posted a 42-27 win against the defensive “genius.” So, if Double B is such a genius, and Andy Reid dropped EIGHTY-TWO points on him the last two meetings, what does that make Andy? The Einstein of Offense? The Stephen Hawking of X’s and O’s? Either one is good for me. And by the way, the 42 points in 2017 was with Alex Smith at QB, and he hit on 28 of 35 for 368 yards, four TDs and no INTs.

Before we move on, here are your vital spread stats. The Chiefs posted a 10-6-1 overall record, 5-4 at home and 7-5 as a favorite. The Patriots’ overall spread record was 8-7-2. They limped to a 2-5-1 mark on the road, and were never an underdog.

Back to New England’s road problems. We looked at the last four road games, and the Patriots lost three, with the only win coming against the sad-sack Jets (4-12). The Brady Bunch lost AT Tennessee 34-10, AT Miami 34-33 and AT Pittsburgh 17-10.

Gonna be fun watching the icicles form on Andy’s moustache, and even more fun seeing him get some payback for losing to Belichick and the Patriots in Super Bowl 39, XXXIX if you want, 24-21. And also getting knocked out of the playoffs back in 2015 by the Pats, coming up on the short end of a 27-20 score. It’s never easy against Tom Terrific, but watch out for my man Travis Kelce, Kansas City’s TE who is a younger, HEALTHIER, faster version of The Gronk.

And we will all get to witness some history when Patrick Mahomes becomes the first rookie QB to EVER play in a Super Bowl. Gimme Kaycee 28-21.

And plz, PLZ hit me on Twitter over the weekend, @vegasvigorish, just in case anything pops on the college hoop board.

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.