The most difficult part of making picks in Week 18 is that you don’t know how teams are going to approach the final week. Teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants have already locked their seeding position in, so are they willing to risk injury to any of their players in a game that won’t change where they play the following week?
As such, this week’s picks are all in the AFC, including the top three seeds and four teams that won’t combine to score enough points to surpass the Over/Under number.
Odds provided by Tipico Sportsbook
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders: OVER 52.5 points (-110)
The last five times the Chiefs and Raiders have played, the total number of points scored have been 59, 57, 55, 66 and 72. The Raiders have had as much success in recent years against the Chiefs as anybody in the division, and their games always seem to be back and forth scoring fests because of the way they match up. The Chiefs need to win apparently lock down the No. 1 seed in the AFC (the Bills-Bengals game isn’t going to be made up), so if they get an early lead they likely will keep their foot on the gas.
Take Buffalo Bills and lay 7 points (-105) vs. New England Patriots
Football is a game of momentum and emotion, and the Bills have both on their side in this one. Rallying around fallen teammate Damar Hamlin, the Bills have something to focus on for each player on the team. The Patriots will try to slow the game down, but the Bills will force the issue offensively. The Patriots don’t have the playmakers to keep pace with them as Buffalo looks to regain the No. 1 seed in the AFC. However, with the confusing strength of victory tiebreaker, the Bills need to take care of their business to lock down the No. 2 seed or No. 1 if the Chiefs lose Saturday.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos: UNDER 39.5 points (-109)
This one is a little tricky because the Ravens will have played earlier in the day than the Chargers. The Ravens are 7-point underdogs without Lamar Jackson (see below) and the Chargers will already know whether or not they will be locked into the No. 5 seed or need to win to assure the fifth spot. I fully expect the Chargers to prepare for the game like they will be going with their starters, but once they know the Ravens result, there is no reason to risk any players once they know their playoff positioning at game time. Denver’s offense can’t score and the Chargers’ B-team will likely struggle to put up points as well.
Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: UNDER 40.5 points (-110)
The Steelers have been involved in games with 40 or fewer points scored in their last five games – four of those being wins. The last four games the Browns have played have all hit under this O/U number. The last time both had a game with more than 40 points they both hit 41 points. Both teams have better defenses than offenses and have fallen into the habit of playing tight, low-scoring games. That should continue as they close out the regular season.
Take Cincinnati Bengals lay 7 points (-109) vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Bengals have won seven straight games and have outscored their opponents by 12 or more points in four of their last five home wins. The Ravens have lost two of their last three games to division rivals Pittsburgh and Cleveland, and the Bengals are a much more complete team than either of those two. The Ravens haven’t scored more than 17 points in any of the five games since Lamar Jackson was first injured. The Ravens will try to slow the game down, but just don’t have the horses to get into a shootout, which has become a specialty of the Bengals.
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