Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three decades of experience to make weekly picks in his “Ecks & Bacon” column.
Colts vs Bills Pick
LAS VEGAS — Starting out up in Buffalo and using the Bills -6 points over the Colts. Gotta begin each selection with some vital spread stats, just in case you have not had the time.
Looking at the Bills, they were 13-3 straight up and 11-5 against the spread. They were 6-2 ATS at home and 7-4 as a favorite. They went OVER 11 times and UNDER four with one PUSH (5-3 to the OVER at home).
The Colts were 11-5 straight up and 8-8 against the spread. They were 5-3 ATS on the road and 0-1 as an underdog. They went OVER nine times and UNDER seven (6-2 to the OVER away).
Is there a hotter team in the NFL? UH-UH. Buffalo has been MONEY in the bank, rolling in with a gorgeous 8-0 spread PERFECTO. The Bills have won six in a row straight up, and WON by an average of almost 20 points per game. Nothing against OLD MAN Rivers, but Philip ain’t in the same zip code as Buffs QB Josh Allen.
Looked at Indy’s schedule, and yeah, they closed with four wins in the last five games, but beating Houston (4-12) twice, Las Vegas (8-8) and Jacksonville (1-15) does NOT really sing upset. We have been circling the wagons with the Bills the last month and a half, and gonna keep riding the big arm of Allen.
Rams vs Seahawks Pick
Moving out west, we’re gonna roll with Seattle -3 points over the Rams. Checking in on the Seahawks, they were 12-4 straight up and 8-8 against the spread. They were 6-2 ATS at home and 7-7 as a favorite. They went OVER seven times and UNDER nine (3-5 to the UNDER at home).
The Rams were 10-6 straight up and 9-7 against the spread. They were 4-4 ATS on the road and 3-2 as an underdog. They went UNDER 12 times and OVER four (4-4 to the UNDER away).
Sadly, Seattle’s crazed fans, the famous 12th Man, will not be a factor, but Russell Wilson WILL. And so WILL the Seahawks defense. Everyone is starry-eyed when it comes to the Rams D, and rightly so. They led the NFL in both total defense and points allowed this season, but check out Seattle. Since Buffalo dropped 44 on ’em back in early November, they have allowed just 15 points per game.
These NFC West rivals split this season, with the Rams posting a 23-16 win at home and the ’Hawks coming back with a 20-9 W in Seattle. This is all about Ciara’s husband, ’cause he’s just better than Jared Goff.
Buccaneers vs Washington Pick
Back to D.C. and the pick is Washington +8.5 points against the Bucs. Looking at Washington, they were 7-9 straight up and 8-7-1 against the spread. They were 4-4 ATS at home and 7-5-1 as an underdog. They went OVER five times and UNDER 10 with one PUSH (2-5-1 to the UNDER at home).
The Bucs were 11-5 straight up and 9-7 against the spread. They were 4-4 ATS on the road and 7-6 as a favorite. They went OVER nine times and UNDER seven (5-3 to the OVER away).
Not gonna be my biggest wager because I’m nervous about two things. First is the health of Alex Smith. He has a calf issue which has limited his mobility, and he just looks kinda fragile. And if Taylor Heinicke has to come in at some point, UH-OH. The other issue is TB12. Obviously the G.O.A.T. of QBs. His playoff experience is RIDONKULOUS! He has the most wins (30), completions (1,025), passing yards (11,388) and TD passes (73), and I don’t see him going home just yet. The Bucs come in on fire, winning four in a row, but the teams they beat (Minny, Atlanta twice and Detroit) are all bottom-feeders. Thinking Tampa, but not gonna push any chips in because 8.5/9 is too much.
Titans vs Ravens Pick
On to Sunday and we’re all over Baltimore -3 points over the Titans. Checking the Ravens’ stats, they were 11-5 straight up and 10-5-1 against the spread. They were 5-2-1 ATS on the road and 8-5-1 as a favorite. They went OVER seven and UNDER nine (3-5 to the UNDER away).
The Titans were 11-5 straight up and 7-9 against the spread. They were 4-4 ATS at home and 3-2 as an underdog. They went OVER 12 times and UNDER three with one PUSH (6-1-1 to the OVER at home).
You know that we’ve been best-betting Baltimore the last couple of weeks, so why stop now. You can talk about the resurgence of Lamar Jackson down the stretch, leading the Ravens to five straight wins, scoring 34, 47, 40, 27 and 38 points. You can talk about the crazy rushing numbers, gobbling up 404 yards last week with J.K Dobbins becoming another legit weapon.
But NO ONE is talking about the DEFENSE. You might not believe it, but the Edgar Allan Poes have the NUMBER TWO defense in the NFL, just behind the Rams. There’s just one thing left to say. This IS my BEST BET, BAABBBEEE!!!
Bears vs Saints Pick
No weather to worry about inside the Superdome, so we’re rolling with New Orleans -10 points over the Bears.
Looking at the Saints, they were 12-4 straight up and 9-6-1 against the spread. They were 4-3-1 ATS at home and 8-6 as a favorite. They went OVER 10 times and UNDER six (6-2 to the OVER at home).
The Bears were 8-8 straight up and 8-8 against the spread. They were 5-3 ATS on the road and 7-6 as an underdog. They went OVER eight times and UNDER eight (5-3 to the OVER away).
Drew Brees understands that his window at the top of the QB charts is starting to close, and that’s why New Orleans comes into the Super Bowl party like a money machine on STEROIDS. The Saints have covered seven of the last eight with one PUSH, and any time you’re talking about an 88 percent cover rate, you gotta pay attention.
Seeing a bunch of -10 here in Vegas and around the country, and while we expect New Orleans to advance, not interested in laying double digits. However, if you wanna take a drive to Prop City, would recommend the Saints at -3 to win the first quarter. And if they come out of the locker room at halftime trailing Chicago, POUND Brees at any price to win the third quarter!
Browns vs Steelers Pick
Closing it out with Cleveland +6 points over Pittsburgh. Looking at the Steelers, they were 12-4 straight up and 10-6 against the spread. They were 5-3 ATS at home and 6-5 as a favorite. They went OVER eight times and UNDER seven times with one PUSH (5-3 to the OVER at home).
The Browns were 11-5 straight up and 6-10 against the spread. They were 3-5 ATS on the road and 2-3 as an underdog. They went OVER nine times and UNDER 7 (4-4 to the OVER away).
Coulda, woulda, shoulda. This coulda been something for the long-suffering Cleveland fans, but sadly, without head coach Kevin Stefanski calling the plays, gonna have to take a pass. Not saying that it’s exactly the same, but when Clemson lost its offensive coordinator for the College Football Playoff semifinal against Ohio State, the Tigers just seemed DISCOMBOBULATED. Thinking that an NFL team will not suffer as much, but man, it IS an issue.
These two just played last week, WITHOUT Big Ben Roethlisberger, and the Brownies squeezed out a 24-22 win. Woulda loved Cleveland in this spot, but without the coach and so many COVID-19 positives surrounding the team, might only lean to the Browns. But gonna wait till Sunday night and get the final injury/COVID-19 list before opening the wallet.
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.
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