The NFL closes out its regular season with a lot at stake. Playoff seedings are up in the air with teams fighting to lock into their spots.
A team like the Kansas City Chiefs could finish the No. 1 seed or the No. 4 seed, depending on whether they win and how a couple of others games turn out.
In the NFC, the only team that has anything locked down is Green Bay. The NFL couldn’t ask for a better scenario to close out its regular season having a dozen games with direct playoff implications. Here are our picks for each game of this critical weekend.
NFL Betting Odds and Lines: Week 18
Kansas City Chiefs (-540) at Denver Broncos (+380)
The Chiefs need to win to have a shot at the No. 1 seed in the AFC and to hold off the other division leaders chasing them – they’ve lost to both Cincinnati and Buffalo this season. They are heavy favorites against the Broncos (10.5 points at +100 Chiefs, -120 Broncos). I typically don’t recommend laying double digits in a divisional game, but I have to on this one. Take the Chiefs and lay the 10.5 points (+100).
Dallas Cowboys (-350) at Philadelphia Eagles (+265)
The Eagles are the seventh seed, but despite a head-to-head loss to No. 6 seed San Francisco, the Eagles are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. The Over/Under on this one is reasonable (42.5 points at -115 Over, -105 Under). The Cowboys are looking to improve their playoff positioning if the Los Angeles Rams lose and the Eagles want to move up a spot if the San Francisco 49ers lose. Both teams will be putting their best foot forward, so both offenses should be ready to light things up. Take the Over (-115).
Indianapolis Colts (-1400) at Jacksonville Jaguars (+750)
The Colts need a win to punch their ticket to the playoffs, and the Jags need a loss to lock up the No. 1 overall draft pick (again). The Over/Under on this one is surprisingly high (44.5 points at -103 Over, -117 Under). I’m not convinced the Jaguars will score more than 10 points, which will require the Colts to score 35. While capable of it, I wouldn’t bet on it happening, because if they get a big lead, they will grind out the clock on the ground. Take the Under (-117).
Washington Football Team (-350) at New York Giants (+265)
The Giants offense is among the worst of any team in recent memory. Washington is a prohibitive road favorite (6.5 points at -120 WFT, +100 Giants), but that isn’t enough going up against a Giants team that has scored 13 or fewer points in six of their last seven games and just 19 points in the last three games combined. Take Washington and lay the 6.5 points (-120).
Green Bay Packers (-190) at Detroit Lions (+155)
Aaron Rodgers says he is playing, but for how long is the question. Even still, the Packers remain a solid road favorite (3.5 points at -110 for both teams). The Lions don’t have a lot to play for other than pride, while the Packers will have a bye week coming. Momentum is a funny thing, and the Packers have enough to beat a Detroit team running on fumes. Take the Packers and lay the 3.5 points (-110).
Cincinnati Bengals (+205) at Cleveland Browns (-260)
The Bengals won the division, but still have something to play for as the No. 3 seed — they can get up to No. 1 with Kansas City and Tennessee losses — and need a win to hold off the winner of the AFC East. For some reason, Cleveland is a big favorite (6.5 points at -108 Bengals, -112 Browns). The Bengals plan to rest Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon is one of five other starters on the COVID list and won’t play. Even so, the Browns aren’t that dominant and getting almost a touchdown is too much. Take the Bengals plus the 6.5 points (-108).
Tennessee Titans (-540) at Houston Texans (+380)
The Titans need a win to lock down the No. 1 seed and earn the critical first-round bye. Houston is playing out the string in a season that seemed doomed from the start with a near-complete roster turnover. It seems a little surprising the Titans aren’t favored by more (9.5 points at -120 Titans, +100 Texans). Given how much is at stake, expect Tennessee to look to bring the hammer down and enjoy their week off. Take the Titans and lay the 9.5 points (-120).
Chicago Bears (+135) and Minnesota Vikings (-170)
Both teams are frontrunners to fire their head coaches at the end of the season, but Minnesota has more talent on both sides of the ball. The Vikings are home favorites (3.5 points at -125 Bears, +102 Vikings). That number seems destined to beg people to take the Vikings. Well, I’ve always been sucker for when someone begs. Take the Vikings and lay the 3.5 points (+102).
Pittsburgh Steelers (+200) at Baltimore Ravens (-250)
Ben Roethlisberger will play his final game against a Ravens team that has been ravaged by injuries. Even with Lamar Jackson a question mark to play, the Ravens are big favorites for this semiannual bloodbath (5.5 points at -110 for both). I’ve been burned betting on and against the Steelers, but I will do it one last time. Take the Steelers plus the 5.5 points (-110).
San Francisco 49ers (+175) at Los Angeles Rams (-220)
Some teams just have another team’s number, and that has been the case for the 49ers. The Rams are favored (4.5 points at -110 for both teams), but the 49ers have beaten the Rams five straight games. Despite currently being the No. 6 seed, the 49ers aren’t in the playoffs yet. The Rams have clinched a spot but not their division. Some teams just have the matchup advantage against another and this one has played out every time the last three years. I’m tempted to take the Niners on the Moneyline, but I’ll gladly take insurance and points. Take the 49ers plus the 4.5 points (-110).
Carolina Panthers (+320) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-420)
The Bucs are losing key offensive weapons on a weekly basis, but this is Tom Brady and this is January. They seem locked into the No. 3 seed, but if the Rams lose, they can vault to the No. 2 seed and be at home until they lose or potentially set up a rematch in Green Bay with the Packers. The Bucs are solid favorites (7.5 points at -105 Panthers, -115 Buccaneers). I’ll take my chances that Tampa at home can push the Panthers around and win by double digits after a stunning nail-biter last week against the hapless Jets. Take the Buccaneers and lay the 7.5 points (-115).
New England Patriots (-290) at Miami Dolphins (+225)
Miami has always been a thorn in the Patriots side, but New England is potentially in the running for the No. 3 seed if things fall right. At a minimum, they want to hold down the No. 5 seed so they can avoid having to play Kansas City, something nobody wants in the first round of the playoffs. New England is a stiff road favorite (6.5 points at -108 Patriots, -112 Dolphins). New England’s defense is going to attack Tua Tagovailoa, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see a defensive or special teams touchdowns, which is all the Pats will need. Take the Patriots and lay the 6.5 points (-108).
Seattle Seahawks (+230) at Arizona Cardinals (-300)
Seattle has been disappointing this season, but they still force opponents to play their style — keep a game close in win in the fourth quarter. For that reason, the Over/Under is too high (47.5 points at -115 Over, -105 Under). The Cardinals are capable of putting up big points, but this has the looks of a 27-17 game written all over it – with a three-point cushion with that score. Take the Under (-105).
New York Jets (+750) at Buffalo Bills (-1400)
I don’t care what they did against the Buccaneers last week, for me to consider taking the Jets, they would need to be 17-point underdogs. The Over/Under is close, but not close enough (14.5 points at -108 Jets, -112 Bills). When Buffalo wins, it tends to win big. Really big. This has that kind of stink to potentially set up a rematch will the Patriots in the playoffs. Take the Bills and lay the 14.5 points.
New Orleans Saints (-210) at Atlanta Falcons (+170)
The Falcons have played eight games against teams that are either in or within a win of making the playoffs. They have a record of 1-7 in those games. The one win came against the Saints, but that was the first week after Jameis Winston when the failed Trevor Siemian Experiment began. The Saints are still in the playoff hunt and only need a Rams win to control their own destiny. The Saints are modest road favorites (4.5 points at -105 Saints, -115 Falcons). Atlanta has beaten the teams they’re supposed to beat and lost to the teams they shouldn’t beat. They shouldn’t beat the Saints. Take the Saints and lay the 4.5 points (-105).
Los Angeles Chargers (-165) at Las Vegas Raiders (+133)
The NFL got the “win-and-in” game it wanted and this comes down to two things with everything to gain and everything to lose. Everything else will have been decided. The Over/Under is the highest of the Week 18 slate of games (49.5 points at -112 Over, -108 Under). It’s that high for a reason. The winner is going into the playoffs with a defense that gets lit up routinely. The Raiders have won three straight, and the Chargers haven’t scored less than 28 points in their last five games. I like that combo platter. Take the Over (-112).
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