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Las Vegas Expert Picks: NFL Divisional Round

Mike Williams #81 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates a catch against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half in the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium on January 06, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland.

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 — Went wild last weekend and wound up with a spilt. This weekend, we’re going divisional and thinking SWEEP baby!!!

NFL picks

Just like last week, we’ll kick off the party on Saturday with the Colts, this time +5.5 points over the Chiefs. Is it my imagination or does Indianapolis keep getting better each week? Short answer, of course. The Colts started the season at 1-5, and have come roaring into the playoffs with 10 wins in their last 11 games, 7-3-1 against the spread. We talked a bunch about Andrew Luck and his brilliance, but the reason Indy is crushing it is, BALANCE! The rushing game has been amazing, led by Marlon Mack, who gobbled up 148 yards last week.

And if you’re a numbers freak, try these on for size. Since Andy Reid took over in 2013, the Chiefs have NOT won at home in the playoffs. Lost to the Steelers in 2016, 18-16 as a 2.5-point favorite, and 22-21 to Tennessee last year as a 9-point fave. Obviously, they didn’t have the electric Patrick Mahomes at QB, but still, not a great showing. Kaycee is always tough at home, but the Horseshoes look like a delicious dog again this week, and, still feeling (Andrew) LUCKy, this is my BEST BET!

Heading out west for the nightcap, and dropping some love on the Rams -7 points over the Cowboys. Wound up taking +2.5 last week with Seattle, and cashed a ticket. WHEW! Going against Dallas one more time, and laying a TD, because the Cowboys on the road are not nearly as good as the ’Boys at home. How about 8-1 at Jerry World and only 2-6 with a suitcase. If you’re interested in a first-half wager, how about Dallas averaging a league-low 5.8 first-half points on the road. How about allowing 48.1 more rushing yards per game on the road. How about averaging 7.5 fewer points on the road. And how about Dak Prescott’s QB rating on the road, which was 23.9 points lower than his work in Dallas.

Did a deep dive and noticed that Sean McVay, with more than a week to prepare, is DANGEROUS. Last season, when the Rams came off the bye week, they CRUSHED the N.Y. Giants 51-17. They opened this season with a 33-13 win at Oakland. And after the bye week this season, they came back to whip Detroit 30-16. Still not sure about Dak’s knee, so gonna keep this a medium to light play.

On Sunday, first stop is New England, and we’re on the Chargers +4 points over the Patriots. Made fun of L.A. Chargers QB Philip Rivers last week and he went out and beat my brains in. Not gonna do that again. And the reason is, PERFECTO. The Lightning Bolts have been RIDONKULOUS on the road, winning eight straight since the middle of October, with a MONEY-MAKING 7-1 record against the spread.

And they have not played cupcakes, like another team we’re gonna talk about. Of course, New England has been a monster as well, especially in the playoffs, covering seven of the last eight at Gillette Stadium. But we looked at the Brady Bunch and found that they were not quite up to the task coming down the stretch when facing teams that won nine games or more. They lost to the Steelers and Titans, and have covered only two of the last seven.

This is the lowest line for the Pats at home in a decade, which was -3.5 against the Ravens back in 2009. And guess what? Yup, they lost 33-14. With Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram putting the heat on Tom Terrific, we anticipate a tight affair to the final gun, as the game ends with a FG.

Close up shop with the Saints -8 points over the Eagles. On to numbers, and if you want, there’s a stat or trend for almost anything if you dive-deep enough. For example, underdogs have been KILLING it in the playoffs, covering 14 of the last 15. And dogs of 7 points or more are 16-8-2 ATS since 2006 in the divisional round. However, and there’s ALWAYS a however. After a wild-card upset, like last week, teams own an UGLY 9-38 straight-up record, and only 18-29 against the spread. So, pick your poison.

My poison is gonna be New Orleans. Why? One reason, just like the argument we made in the Clemson pick, the QB. Not gonna bash Nick Foles, and giving the Philly D some love, but that win last week was against Mitch Trubisky. Now, they gotta play Drew Brees again. The last time the Eagles flew to New Orleans, Brees was brilliant, hitting on 22 of 30 for 363 yards, four TDs and NO INTs. Tell me, is Philly 41 points better than they were eight weeks ago? They’re better, sure, but even if you think they are 21 points better, it’s still Brees by 20. Expecting a better effort from the Eagles, but still picking the Saints by a dime, 31-21.

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.