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 - Charlie 'Freaking' Morton has made me a bundle of cash over the last two years, so why stop now. His numbers are, as the kids say, STUPID! Which for you older folks means PHENOMENAL! Morton started twice for the Rays last season in the playoffs, was 2-0, and allowed only 1 run for a skinny 0.90 ERA with 13 Ks. This post-season is even BETTER! As in a 3-0 mark, 15 innings, 1 earned run for an INVISIBLE 0.60 ERA. Oh yea, throw in 17 Ks in those 15 innings.
But it AIN'T gonna be easy because Walker Buehler is close to lights out. He started four times, with just one win, but his other numbers are stellar. Over 19 innings, he has been touched for 4 runs which works out to a 1.89 ERA. And even with the blister problems, he has posted 29 Ks over 19 innings.
In my preview of the series, my thought was that if Tampa gets Brandon Lowe and Austin Meadows going, they'll be in good shape. Well, Lowe went deep twice in game two and drove in three runs, so you could say he is going. Now they need Meadows. Gimme a small ray of sunshine on the Rays this evening.
NCAAF Week 8 Picks
ROW THE BOAT BAABBBEEE!!!
Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck has brought his 'Row the Boat' mantra from Western Michigan to Minnesota, and boy is it working. Fleck took over at Western back in 2013. He was an UGLIFIED 1-11 in his first season, then 8-5, 8-5 and 13-1 in his last year. Then he came to Minneapolis to take over as the head Coxswain, that's a rowing term, just Google it, in 2017. The first season in Minny was a bit ugly at 5-7, then it was 7-6 and all the way up to 11-2 last year, with a gorgeous win over Auburn in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day.
Heading into his fourth season, there are three other names to know. One is the quarterback, Tanner Morgan. If you're not familiar, Tanner was ALL THAT last season, completing 66% of his passes for 3,253 yards with 30 TDs and just 7 INTs. The other name is Mike Sanford Jr. Why talk about Junior? Last year, he was the offensive coordinator at Utah State, and coached a kid named Jordan Love. If you don't remember the name, just ask Aaron Rodgers. The Packers selected Love with their first round pick (#10) after a phenomenal career up in Logan.
The third name is WR Rashod Bateman, who WILL be playing the NFL next season. Also note that the Golden Gophers have all five starters back along the offensive line to protect Morgan, and a stud at RB in Mohamed Ibrahim.
Not only are these Gophers Golden, but they'll certainly fatten up your wallet.
NFL Week 7 Picks
On the NFL board, we're gonna double the fun with two selections. Start up in New England and grab the 49ers +2.5 points over Patriots. Take every single New England stat and trend and throw it in the GARBAGE! The Patriots are 24-4 in their last 28 home games. Throw it in the GARBAGE! The Patriots had a 20 year run of covering around 59% of their games. Throw it in the GARBAGE! The Patriots have won four of the last five against the NFC West.
Throw it in the GARBAGE! Every single stat and trend was with Tom Brady running the show. TB12 is gone, and that's why New England is under water at 2-3 for the first time since 2002. But this isn't only about Brady, it's also about REVENGE BABY! That's the first order of business for Jimmy Garoppolo who was traded away a few years ago. Jimmy G was solid against a tough L.A. Rams defense last week, clicking on 23 of 33 for 268 yards with 3 TDs and NO INTs. With Cam Newton as the leading rusher, things will only get uglier for the Patriots and Double B, and that's why there is only one thing left to say. This IS my BEST BET BAABBEEE!!!
Then we roll out to Denver, and drop some cash on the Chiefs -9.5 points over the Broncos. Before you get too excited about Denver's little two game winning streak, remember it was against the 0-5 New York Jets, and the 2-3 New England Patriots. What you need to get excited about is Patrick Mahomes and his work against the Broncos. Can I say RIDONKULOUS. These AFC West rivals played twice last season, and Kaycee DESTROYED 'em each time. It was 30-6 in the first meeting at Mile High, and 23-3 in the next game at K.C. That's ONLY a combined 53-9. Which is ONLY an average winning margin of 22 points per game.
And the spread is ONLY 9.5? Actually, Mahomes was injured in the first half of the game at Denver after completing 10 of 11 for 76 yards and a TD. Mahomes was back and humming in Kansas City, hitting on 27 of 34 for 340 yards and 2 TDs. And now Patrick has a two-headed monster in the backfield with Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le'Veon Bell ready to roll after getting out of the Jets prison in New York. Just noticed an 80% chance of snow in the Mile High City on Sunday, so handle this wager with care.
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.