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 - Gotta give you some World Cup soccer action. It's actually the qualifiers with a spot in Qatar 2022 at stake.
Tough to call the USA/Mexico match because, well, because we can't bet with our heart. Like the Stars & Stripes but El Tri is out for revenge and could make life difficult. So, we move to Canada vs. Costa Rica. The Canucks, yea, that's their nickname, have been BRILLIANT in the qualifiers. As in, they have NOT lost. The squad is unbeaten in the last 21 matches at home, and since this game is set for Edmonton, my Magic 8 Ball says, 'it is decidedly so, bet Canada with both hands.'
Okay, I made up the last part, because the 8 Ball does not have a sportsbook affiliation, yet. Back to the MOST important reason why we're playing against Costa Rica. Los Ticos superstar goalkeeper, Keylor Navas, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain, injured his elbow in a Ligue 1 match against Bordeaux last weekend, and will NOT be available. So, home country advantage + losing one of the BEST goalies in the world = OH (YEA) CANADA!!!
College Football Pick - Washington State +14
Quack quack. The Ducks are flying and up to No. 3 in the College Football Playoff Rankings, and Cougars are just flying UNDER the radar. Lemme spin a little story. All the ink and talking heads have concentrated on the Nick Rolovich story at Washington State. Obviously, that was/is a yuge story, but there's something else going on in Pullman.
The Cougars have won four of their last five, but even MORE important, roll into Eugene with a gorgeous 6-0 PERFECTO against the spread. Yea, SIX & OH! The only straight up loss came against BYU, and it was a 21-19 squeaker. Strange as it sounds, Washington State would be tied at the top of the Pac 12 North with an upset win tomorrow. Not saying you should run to the counter and bet the money line, but at +14, we're talking about a very solid investment.
You probably know most of the names at Oregon, but the Cougars have a kid at QB, Jayden de Laura, who can do some STUFF. What you should know about JdL is, he comes from Saint Louis High School in Honolulu, which has produced a couple of pretty decent QBs like Tua Tagovailoa, Marcus Mariota and Timmy Chang. de Laura LEADS the conference with 17 TD passes and is second in yards per game at 245.
Wanna talk D? State is on top of the Pac 12 with 20 takeaways (No. 5 in the country) and has 11 fumble recoveries. Gotta respect the Ducks' 8-1 overall record, but at 3-6 against the spread, they're burning money. And with a trip to Utah on deck next week, Oregon might just be visiting 'look-ahead city.' Gimme PLUS 14 all day long.
NFL Pick - Dallas -9
Why should you lay NINE points with a Dallas team that looked HORRIBLE against an average Denver squad last week, losing at home, 30-16? We have reasons. First up, it was Dak Prescott's first game back after missing a couple of weeks, and like a top-flight pitcher, he was certainly a little rusty.
Despite an off week, Dak is still having a crazy good season, completing almost 70 percent of his passes, with 18 TDs and only 5 INTs. Before the ugliness against the Broncos, the Cowboys had covered SEVEN in a row, and even with last week's dud, STILL lead the NFL with 434.3 yards per game. And then there's Dan Quinn. Surely you remember that Quinn was the head coach at Atlanta from 2015-2020, and is now in charge of the Dallas D.
Think that Danny Q knows a little something somethin' about how to defend Matt Ryan? Think that he'll be looking for a taste of sweet revenge after getting fired? Yes and oh yea, and, you can take THAT to the BANK!
And if you want more picks this weekend on the college and NFL board, PLZ hit me on Instagram. I will be doing quick 15 second picks at www.instagram.com/vegasvigorish!
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.