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Las Vegas Expert Picks: NFL Wild Card Weekend

Ecks and Bacon January 3, 2020 Deshaun Watson Carlos Hyde NFL Wild Card Weekend

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 — Taking the bowling shoes off and going WILD!!!

U ready???

Bills vs Texans

Start out tomorrow with the Texans -2.5 points over the Bills. Just about every metric you look at favors Buffalo. Seems like the entire world is on the Bills. And why not. The Buffs enjoyed a gorgeous 7-1-1 mark in their last nine road games, while Houston covered only one of the last eight as a home favorite. Everyone is in love with Buffalo QB Josh Allen and the two-headed rushing attack of Frank Gore and Devin Singletary.

OK, understood, but here’s my argument. Deshaun Watson is still as dangerous as any quarterback in the league. The Texans have a pretty sweet rushing attack of their own with Carlos Hyde gobbling up 1,070 yards on 245 runs for an average of almost 4.5 yards per pop.

Then we looked at Houston’s last three losses and found a common thread. Throw out last week’s 35-14 loss because the stars sat on the bench. The Texans posted a YUGE win over the Chiefs, then lost to Indy the next week. Totally flat, understandable. They were crushed by the Ravens, only the BEST team in the NFL. Understandable. They put it all on the field in a win against the Patriots, then lost to the Broncos the following week. Understandable.

Watson WILL be ready after losing his first playoff game last season to the Colts. Allen is playing in his first postseason game. Like that yin and yang, so we’re gonna roll with home cooking.

Titans vs Patriots

Move to New England where we have the Patriots -5 points over the Titans. Don’t like Tom Brady. Don’t like Bill Belichick. Don’t like New England clam chowder. Well, maybe a little. Don’t like anything within 100 miles of Boston, but still gotta ride with the GOAT.

It even pains me to type GOAT when talking about Tommy Terrific, but it’s impossible to deny. And now we have the GOAT vs Ryan Tannehill at ONLY -5. Are you KIDDING ME! Ryan T has never started a playoff game, EVER, while TB12 is just, he said sarcastically, 30-10 with SIX rings.

Did a little Tannehill research from his years with the Dolphins, and guess what, he SUCKED up at the Razor Blade, Gillette Stadium, with an 0-6 negative perfecto! And lost by an average of 22 points per game. Just because he has a different uni on, don’t think it’ll change. Not AT Foxborough where New England is working on its own PERFECTO, a spotless 8-0 record at home in the first game of the playoffs the last eight years.

Heard all the chatter about Tommy T now slipping badly, the bum elbow, and the lack of weapons, but I’m on Brady even if he has to throw with his FREAKIN’ left hand. One thing left to say, and you know what it is. This IS my BEST BET, BAABBEEE!!!

Vikings vs Saints

On to Sunday and we’ll step with the Vikings +8 points against the Saints. Leaning to Captain Kirk and the Purple People, but gotta see if Dalvin Cook is gonna play. He’s listed as probable, but you know how the NFL coaches love to lie. If Cook is a go, we’re on Minnesota, light.

Love Drew Brees, love Michael Thomas and the rest of the offense, but let’s dig a little deeper. Most folks are looking at last week, when the Saints crushed the Panthers 42-14, and the Vikings lost to the Bears 21-19. Not a big surprise. Carolina was atrocious and Minny rested Cousins and most of the key starters.

Then we dissected New Orleans’ past performances, and noticed a little gem. Sure, the Saints were 13-3, posting wins against teams like the Bucs (twice), Jacksonville, Chicago, Arizona and Atlanta. Note the common thread. All LOSERS, except the Bears at 8-8!

In games against teams with winning records, Drew and crew beat the Texans 30-28, no cover, lost to the Rams 27-9, beat Seattle only 33-27, squeezed past Dallas 12-10, and lost to the 49ers 48-46. Saints march into the next round, but it will be tight.

Seahawks vs Eagles

Close it out in the City of Brotherly Love where it’s the Eagles +2 points over the Seahawks. All you hear about is injuries. Man, EVERYONE is hurting, both sides. Seattle’s injury list is at least as long as the Birds’. The Seahawks lost their top two running backs and had to bring back Beast Mode, Marshawn Lynch. I love Skittles as much as anyone, but c’mon, the guy’s been on the party circuit for the last year and a half.

Sadly, my main man, my prop money machine, Zach Ertz, might not go. He paid for my Airbnb at Pebble Beach over the new year with all the OVERs on total receptions. But Carson WentzSylvania still has some weapons. Like Miles Sanders, whose ankle appears to be OK. All the SandMan did was LEAD ALL rookies in yards from scrimmage, and if he’s a go, that would be crucial.

The Green closed the season with a 4-0 flourish, while Seattle dropped three of its last four. And, of course, we’re talking revenge. The ’Hawks squeezed out a 17-9 win over the Birds at the Linc back on November 24. But the Eagles sacked Russell Wilson SIX times, and held him to just 200 passing yards. Wentz went 33-45 for 256 yards, but the two INTs and two fumbles were killer.

This is Carson’s first crack at the playoffs, he will be ready and he WILL take care of the ball. Might be betting with my heart more than my head, so, putting just a medium amount of green on the Green!

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.