Sal Iacono is a writer for “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and better known among sports fans as “Cousin Sal” on Bill Simmons’ podcasts. He’s also making a name for himself as ESPN’s NFL gambling expert.
After going 19-2-3 over the final eight weeks of the 2014 season, Sal has caught fire again. Cuz is 15-6 over the last seven weeks, despite going 1-2 a week ago. He is also 10-3 this season on his “Best Bet.”
So let’s take a look at who Cousin Sal likes this week along with his thoughts on each pick. As usual, assume plenty of goofiness and sarcasm that is difficult to transcribe (you can see the segment here).
Cincinnati Bengals -2.5 (vs Pittsburgh Steelers): “Everybody loves this Steelers team. 70% of those betting this game are backing Pittsburgh, and all the talk is ‘they’re going to be tough to beat in January.’ But this is December! And Cincinnati is the best team in the AFC. Geno Atkins is a force up the middle. Here is my favorite stat. Cincinnati, 14-1-1 in their last 16 home games that kick off at 1 p.m. eastern … Cincinnati is better. They’re home. They’re only laying 2.5. I like them over Pittsburgh.”
His second pick is his two-team teaser — must pick both games correctly, but you get a more favorable point-spread in each game. Cousin Sal was 7-1-1 on teasers over the final nine weeks of the 2014 season.
Denver -1 (vs Oakland Raiders) and Miami Dolphins +7.5 (vs New York Giants): “The Broncos are 5-0 in their last five against the Raiders, and since [Brock] Osweiler took over for Peyton Manning, they average 140 yards on the ground. That’s tough to beat. And Derek Carr is making a lot of mistakes. That’s not going to work against the Broncos defense. The second team, Miami plus-7.5, Monday night against the Giants. I told you last week, these Monday night games, they come down to the last two minutes. So, Miami plus-7.5 is going to work. You have to take it. Lamar Miller getting a steady dose of carries. I like what they’re doing. Ndamukong Suh is going to kill this patchwork offensive line of the Giants.”
This is Sal’s “Best Bet.” He was 12-3-1 with this pick in 2014 and has been 10-3 this season:
Seattle Seahawks -10 (at Baltimore Ravens): “That’s a big number, but Seattle is starting to click. It’s that time of year. We have to jump on them. And Baltimore, as of Friday morning they don’t even know who their quarterback is. Matt Schaub, Jimmy Clausen, it doesn’t matter. Seattle, 15-5-1 [against the spread] in their last 21 December games. Meanwhile, Baltimore 0-7-1 in their last eight against the spread at home. I don’t even think this is close. This reeks 35-9 to me. Take Seattle, minus-10, they win big over Baltimore.”