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 — FOOTBALL, BAABBBEEE!!!
Been working day and night on the NFL, mostly night, since the daytime temps in Vegas were 112, and will start out with an OVER/UNDER total wins wager on the Arizona Cardinals.
The O/U total is set at 7.5 wins, and if the Cards don’t get to 8, I’ll do the usual. Get out the SPEEDO and pose for pictures in front of the Siegfried & Roy statue on the Strip. Have not had to do it in all these years, but 2020 is a different animal, so who knows.
Why ’Zona? Start with Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Kenyon Drake. Murray begins his second year at QB in Kliff Kingsbury’s dynamic offense, and we LIKE what we saw in 2019. He played ALL 16 games, hit 349 of 542 passes for 64.4 percent. He threw for 3,722 yards with 20 TDs and 12 INTs. He also rushed for 544 yards on 93 attempts for a sweet average of 5.8 yards per rush. And the Arizona offense scored 22.6 points per game in 2019 after ranking LAST with 14.6 points per in 2018.
And now he has D-Hop to go along with Larry Fitz, and a full season of Kenyon Drake. We know what Hopkins and Fitzgerald can do, but check out Drake. He was in NFL purgatory for three and a half years with the Dolphins, then got outta town and played eight games with Arizona at the end of 2019.
Lemme throw some crazy stats at you. Kenyon rushed for 174 yards with the Fish in six games and more than tripled that number to 643 yards in eight games with ’Zona. He averaged 29 yards per game with Miami and 80 with the Cards. He had 50 combined receptions for a total of 345 yards. And, and, AND, KD had a TD in EVERY game he played for the Cards. You think he was ECSTATIC to get out of Miami? No need to answer that, the numbers just DID!!!
Looked over Arizona’s schedule and found six easy wins, and despite playing in maybe the toughest division in the league, the NFC West, another two Ws will happen, maybe three. So, it’s OVER 7.5, BAABBBEEE!!!
Raise your hand if you’re really, really, REALLY excited for Sunday’s NFL action. OK, my hand is way up. Which is why I’m gonna throw out a little sneak peek for the Ecks & Bacon Nation.
Gonna try the Panthers at home +3 points over the Raiders. C’mon ECK, are you NUTZ! You’re probably thinking that the Vegas heat, 67 straight days over 100 degrees, has warped my brain, but hear me out.
Why Carolina? How about the most DYNAMIC running back in the NFL, Christian McCaffrey. All he did last season was, well, STAGGERING! He rushed for 1,387 yards, had 1,005 receiving, and put 19 TDs on the board. Then you look at the QB, Teddy Bridgewater, and we’re talking solid pro. When he filled in for Drew Brees with the Saints last season, Bridge was only SPECTACULAR! As in 5-0 in the games he started, with 133 completions in 196 attempts, and nine TDs against just two INTs.
What does Vegas have to offer other than a name change? Not much. Derek Carr will be at the controls of a team that closed out 2019 losing five of its last six. Carolina is on my mind, and this is KINDA my BEST BET, BAABBEEE!!!
Got one college football game for you and it’s Kansas -6.5 points over Coastal Carolina. Les Miles is in his second year with the Jayhawks, and you can expect to see a much more complete team. They’re also looking for a little revenge after an embarrassing 12-7 loss at home to Coastal last season. Just one more thing...POOKA!!! Watch the game and you’ll thank me when the final gun goes off.
On the NBA hardwood, which superstar is gonna step up tonight in Game 7? After scoring ONLY five points in Game 6, we’re expecting Kemba Walker to rock the bubble for at least 18 to 20 (his playoff average is 20.2 ppg), as the Celtics advance to play the Heat.
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...email@example.com.