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 — Gonna jump on the Zamboni tonight and offer up the Oilers over the Flyers. Last Friday, we gave out Edmonton, and the Oil blew away the Stars, 7-2. Not looking for such a wide margin here, but think the McDavids will drop another W into the bank.
Apparently, some people heard that I was gonna drop some love on Fresno State -4 points over Arizona State. Well, the Bulldogs have jumped to -6, but they’re still on my radar screen. Jeff Tedford came to Fresno last season, and posted a 10-4 mark in his first go-round, including a 33-27 win over Houston in the Hawaii Bowl. This season, he has guided the Bulldogs to an 11-2 record coming into the Las Vegas Bowl.
Tedford coached the Cal Bears for a decade, so he knows his way around the Pac-12. If you’re interested, and I know you are, Tedford’s spread record since taking over at Fresno is 19-6-1. And finally, there’s no doubt that Fresno LOVES playing in Vegas. They crushed UNLV 48-3 back in November, and while the Sun Devils are miles better than the Rebels, familiarity is always a plus.
Gonna double the pleasure this week, and drop one NFL game each day. Kick it tomorrow with the Broncos -2.5 points over the Browns. All of a sudden, Cleveland is the darling of the betting universe, and the go-to team for the wise guys. OK, the Brownies have covered three of the last four. But the covers came against the Falcons (4-9), the Bengals (5-8) and the Panthers (6-7). Not a Sportsbook in the bunch. The only game they didn’t cover was against the Texans, at Houston, a 29-13 loss. Hmmmmm. Look at the Texans and you see a tough-as-nails D, with J.J. Watt (12.5 sacks) and Jadeveon Clowney (7 sacks) terrorizing opponents.
Now look at Denver’s D with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, who have combined for 25.5 sacks. Hmmmmm. The Baker was intercepted three times at Houston, and will struggle in the mile-high air of Denver. Cleveland has a 1-21 record on the road since 2016, and while the Broncs are only 6-7, they are still part of the large crowd fighting for the second wild card in the AFC. Just one thing left to say, yeah, this is my BEST BET, BABY!
And on Sunday, it’s the Patriots -2 points over the Steelers. Tom Brady is declining. Tom Brady ain’t good anymore against the blitz. Tom Brady’s arm strength has gone way down. Blah, blah, blah. Brady is also 9-4 and on the way to yet another AFC East crown. Brady is also KRYPTONITE to Pittsburgh. And now that Big Ben Roethlisberger is dealing with sore ribs and RB James Conner is a question mark with an ankle injury, the troubles will continue. Brady’s last five games against the Steel Men have produced five wins. Make it SIX!
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 Sportsbooks, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. If you wanna piece of Eck, hit his email...firstname.lastname@example.org.