By Bill Speros | | 27 mins
NFL Week 18 Picks & Predictions For Every Game: Down To The Wire
The NFL betting season has reached Week 18 with multiple unsettled issues and outcomes. As in 256 different seeding possibilities in the AFC and another 32 more in the NFC.
Four teams can clinch the No. 1 spot in the AFC: Tennessee, Kansas City, Buffalo and New England. Even if the Patriots and Bills are denied the opportunity to earn the top seed in the conference, they will be playing on Sunday with the AFC East championship on the line. There are still 19 teams with a mathematical chance to reach the postseason entering Week 18, including those teams that have already clinched postseason spots.
RELATED: NFL Week 18 Odds & Betting Lines For All Games
Sifting through the near countless playoff scenarios, there are a few that stand out in terms of clarity. The Indianapolis Colts are in the playoffs with a win. The LA Rams can claim the NFC West with a win or tie. The 49ers reach the postseason with a win or tie. The Titans clinch home-field in the AFC with a win. The Bills clinch the AFC East with a victory and the Raiders are in with a win over the Chargers.
There is a potential scenario where the Raiders and Chargers could both reach the playoffs with a tie against each other – leaving open the crazy idea of both teams taking a knee for 60 minutes to ensure a playoff spot.
At the other end of the standings, the Jacksonville Jaguars can secure the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft with a loss. This would be the second-straight year Jacksonville has had the top pick.
It makes for a wild inaugural Week 18 for making NFL picks. Now it’s time to move on to our selections.
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Saturday, Jan. 8
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN/ABC)
Kansas City needs a win – and then some help on Sunday – to lock up the top seed in the AFC. Patrick Mahomes II is 8-0 against the Broncos. Denver, meanwhile, is out of playoff consideration. This line has moved a touchdown toward KC since it was set. Kansas City’s defense needs this game to fix the problems that surfaced in Week 17 against the Bengals. Look for cold and rain or snow. A perfect recipe for the Chiefs to roll through a demoralized and injured Broncos team in what will likely be Vic Fangio’s final game as Denver’s coach.
Best Bet: Under 44 Points (-110) at bet365
Check out: Chiefs vs Broncos odds, injury report, betting lines and more.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN/ABC)
The Cowboys and Eagles have solidified playoff spots. The NFC East champion Cowboys can finish with the No. 2-4 playoff seed, while the Eagles will be either 6th or 7th. But the Cowboys can only move up if the Bucs and Rams both lose Sunday. Unlikely. There is a very real possibility these teams could be meeting in the first round of the playoffs. So while both teams would like to increase their playoff seeding, there’s a question of how much of the playbook do they want to use in Week 18, if they’re meeting in Dallas next week. Look for lots of starters to rest, especially for Dallas. Otherwise, this might be a pick ‘em. The Cowboys have beaten the rival Eagles by 20 points in each of the last two meetings.
BEST BET: Eagles +7 (-110) at bet365
Check out: Cowboys vs Eagles odds, injury report, betting lines and more.
Sunday, Jan. 9
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. (FOX)
The Packers iced the No. 1 seed in the NFC, a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. This will be the first “bye” week of two for many of their regulars, including Aaron Rodgers.
The Detroit Lions were the surprising betting story of the 2021 NFL season. The Lions are 10-6 ATS despite being 2-13-1 outright. If you bet the Lions and the under each week this season, you’d be 20-12 after 16 games. Try to find a better system anywhere.
Best Bet: Lions +2.5 (+102) at SugarHouse
Check out: Packers vs Lions odds, injury report, betting lines and more.
Washington Football Team at New York Giants, 1 p.m. (FOX)
These two teams have lost their last nine games combined. The Giants last week let it be known the team was going to stick with Joe Judge and Daniel Jones next season. After getting embarrassed by the Bears 29-3 in Week 17, Big Blue’s 5th loss in a row, Judge delivered an 11-minute diatribe about how great the Giants are this season, if you simply look beyond their on-field performance. Giants ownership has its limits and does not want Big Blue to be a perennial laughingstock. Judge is doing his best to test them.
The “clown show” Washington Football Team has lost four in a row after threatening to make a playoff push. Washington still needs a nickname, and a complete roster that isn’t ravaged by COVID-19 losses. This game comes just in time for New York sports betting fans, following the launch of online betting in the Empire State on Saturday. New Yorkers can score great deals by signing up today, like grabbing $3,300 in free bets by using the latest Caesars Sportsbook New York promo code.
Check out: Washington at Giants odds, injury report, betting lines and more.
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Two teams going nowhere. Home team wins.
Best Bet: Vikings -2.5 (-110) at DraftKings
Check out: Bears vs Vikings odds, injury report, betting lines and more.
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Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans, 1 p.m. (CBS)
The Titans lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win. They can keep it with a loss, but that depends on the outcome of three other games. Why risk it? The Titans wrecked the Dolphins in Week 17 and should do the same to Houston here. Houston has put up 78 points in its past three games. Hold on for garbage time.
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Best Bet: Over 43 Points (-109) at SugarHouse
Check out: Titans vs Texans odds, injury report, betting lines and more.
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Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Ben Roethlisberger emptied the tank emotionally in his final game at Heinz Field Sunday night. It was one of the worst statistical games of his career, but the Steelers won. The winner of this game is still alive in the playoff chase but needs lots of help. New sign-ups at BetMGM can get a risk-free bet worth up to $1,000. Check out the BetMGM bonus code page for more information.
Best Bet: Over 42 Points (-110) at BetMGM
Check out: Ravens vs Steelers odds, injury report, betting lines and more.
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. (CBS)
The Colts are in the playoffs with a win. Jonathan Taylor continues his long-shot MVP campaign. Taylor needs 266 yards to reach the 2,000-yard rushing mark for the season. The Jaguars got mauled by the Patriots in Week 17 and didn’t seem to care. Their entire coaching staff will be gone after this game, as will much of their roster not named Trevor Lawrence.
Top betting sites forecast a huge Colts victory and moved the line eight points to -15.5 by Tuesday, including at Caesars Sportsbook, where the Caesars Sportsbook promo code gives new bettors a first-bet match of up to $1,001.
Check out: Colts vs Jaguars odds, injury report, betting lines and more.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
The ailing Baker Mayfield will not play for Cleveland since the Browns have been eliminated from the playoffs. Joe Burrow avoided the “Sophomore Jinx” and led Cincy to its first AFC North title since 2015. Burrow has thrown for 1,071 yards and eight TDs the past two weeks. If the Chiefs win on Saturday, the Bengals won’t have a shot at the top seed and a bye. You might see a lot of Cincinnati starters sitting because of that. Lots of uncertainty. Take the under.
Best Bet: Under 42.5 Points (-110) at BetMGM
Check out Browns vs Bengals odds, injury report, betting lines and more.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
The Jets won their Super Bowl by virtue of a 17-10 halftime lead over Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Week 17. Naturally, Brady led his team back from a 14-point deficit because the Jets are, well, the Jets. The Bills need a win to lock up the AFC East and hung 45 points on the Gang Green in November.
Best Bet: Over 43.5 Points (-110) at DraftKings
Check out: Jets vs Bills odds, injury report, betting lines and more.
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New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
The Patriots need a win and Buffalo loss to win the AFC East. Both teams will be playing in the late slot Sunday. The Dolphins were eliminated from the playoffs in Week 17 after their 7-game win streak ended against Tennessee. The Dolphins traditionally give the Patriots fits during late-season games in South Florida. Bill Belichick’s rookie quarterback demolished whatever “Wall” was in his way against the Jaguars in Week 17. The Patriots have plenty of concerns on both sides of the ball heading into the postseason. Look for Mac Jones to flourish in the Florida January warmth as the Patriots continue to clean things up ahead of the playoffs.
Best Bet: Patriots -6.5 (-115) at BetMGM
Check out: Patriots vs Dolphins odds, injury report, betting lines and more.
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)
The Rams will likely need a win here to hold their playoff position, given that the Bucs are playing host to Carolina. San Francisco has won six of eight and controls its own playoff destiny with a win. The Niners have won five straight in this rivalry, including a 31-10 decision earlier this season. QB Jimmy Garoppolo is nursing a bad thumb. The Rams’ defense is tough at home. We’re going with coaching, here. And some value.
Best Bet: 49ers ML +190 at BetMGM
Check out: 49ers vs Rams odds, injury report, betting lines and more.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)
The Seahawks will finish last in their division for the first time in 21 years. Russell Wilson is on the clock in terms of leaving Seattle.
The Cardinals played one of their most complete games of the season in beating Dallas in Week 17. The Cardinals are in the playoffs for the first time since 2015, which fits great with the launch of legal Arizona sports betting earlier this season.
Best Bet: Cardinals -6.5 (-109) at SugarHouse
Check out: Seahawks vs Cardinals odds, injury report, betting lines and more.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)
The Saints clinch a playoff berth with a win and a 49ers loss to the LA Rams. Both games are in the late time slot. Matt Ryan has enjoyed long-term success over New Orleans, but its defense will be fighting for the postseason. Ryan is 60 minutes away from months of rest, relaxation and golf.
Best Bet: Saints -4.5 (-109) at SugarHouse
Check out: Saints vs Falcons odds, injury report, betting lines and more.
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)
The Bucs will be playing for seeding. They need to re-configure their offense again following the in-game departure of Antonio Brown in Week 17. Tampa Bay’s defense was reeling without Lavonte David against the Jets. He will be out again this week being on the IR, as is Leonard Fournette. Brady has won 7 rings making the whole much greater than the sum of its parts. And Sam Darnold is starting for the Panthers.
Best Bet: Buccaneers -7.5 (-110) at BetMGM
Check out: Panthers vs Buccaneers odds, injury report, betting lines and more.
Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
The winner of this game is in the playoffs. The Chargers also clinch with a tie. The Raiders can clinch with a tie, as well, but only if the Colts lose. The Raiders can clinch with a loss, but only with a Colts loss and a Steelers loss or tie. Got all that? The Chargers would go a long way in erasing the narrative that they can’t win big games with a victory here. The Raiders lost Jon Gruden early in the season but have remained competitive. Given the long-term animosity between these two franchises, it’s hard to envision any sort of cooperation so both could get in with a tie.
Best Bet: Raiders +2.5 Points (+100) at BetMGM
Check out: Chargers vs Raiders odds, injury report, betting lines and more.
Week 16: 12-4
Week 17: BYE
Overall: 129-95-1 (57.3%)