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Las Vegas Expert Picks: NFL, NCAAF

Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans watches from the sideline in the second half of the preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys at NRG Stadium on August 30, 2018 in Houston, Texas.

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 — Couple of things before we start throwing out a basket full of winners.

Totally get that everyone is AMPED for the opening week of the NFL, and most of us will have blood pressure readings that are WAY higher than normal. But PLZ take a breath. PLZ don’t get crazy. It’s Week ONE. There are approximately FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND betting opportunities on the board between now and the Super Bowl, so DON’T blow your bankroll too early.

No matter what sport you bet, stay within your limits and DON’T CHASE. For those just pulling up a chair to the Ecks & Bacon table, here’s what that means. You bet like two or three early NFL games. You lose ’em all and you’re thinking, no problem, I’ll make it back on the late games. You don’t find any Ws late, then you’re all, well, got the SNF game to make it all back. You bet more than your normal limit, and come up short. Now, you’re on to the Monday games and thinking, that’s my ticket to get back on the plus side. It’s an EVIL spiral, so, PLZ don’t get sucked in. Eat a loss or two, and keep your bank for next week, and the 17 weeks after that.

NFL picks

So, now, I’ll suck you in to the first winner of the NFL season, and it’s the Texans +6.5 points over the Patriots. TWENTY & OH is a tough number to buck, but we’re bucking. New England has posted a 20-0 mark against the AFC South since 2010, and last time I looked, Houston lived in that division. So, why bother? Got reasons, as usual, and the first is Deshaun Watson. Last season, the Texans flew up to New England in Week 3 and came up on the short end of a 36-33 score against the Patriots.

Houston was a 13-point dog, and obviously had no trouble covering the spread. So, naturally, Vegas chopped the number in half, and now the Pats are favored by just 6.5. But it was Watson’s work, hitting on 22 of 33 for 301 yards and two TDs that jumped off the stat page. The Brady Bunch has covered only one of the last five to open the season, and with J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus creating holy terror, Tom Terrific might be in for a long afternoon.

And of course, what would opening weekend be without a couple of DELICIOUS 10-point three-team teasers. Again, for those just joining E & B, a three-team tease allows you to adjust the line 10 points in either direction. So, we’re looking at the N.Y. Giants, and moving them from +3 to +13 points against the Jaguars. Then grab the Steelers and take ’em from -4 to +6 points against the Browns. Close it out down in New Orleans, and drop the Saints from -10 to a pick’em against the Bucs.

NCAAF pick

On the college board, we’ll start out west, take Stanford, and drop the Cardinal from -5 to +5 points against USC. Then grab Cincinnati, and bump the Bearcats up from +1.5 to +11.5 points over Miami-Ohio. Close the tease with Fresno State, and take the Bulldogs from +2.5 to +12.5 points against Minnesota.

And PLZ hit me on Twitter over the weekend, @vegasvigorish, ’cause ya never know when we’ll find another gem on the baseball diamond.

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.

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