NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Expert Bets On Seahawks-Cardinals, Saints-Falcons, Chargers-Raiders Spreads
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images. Pictured: Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, Cardinals QB Kyler Murray
- What are the best NFL bets on the board for Week 18? One of our experts breaks down all the picks on his card below.
- Find out how he's betting the Seahawks-Cardinals, Saints-Falcons and Chargers-Raiders spreads below.
NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions
No Joe Burrow or Baker Mayfield in a game with a light chance of snow and possible 21 mph winds means we aren’t likely to see much scoring. I’ll take the first-half under in what should be a low-scoring matchup with the Bengals trying to stay healthy for the postseason and the Browns thinking about Cancun.
I would bet this down to 18.5 points.
The Saints offense has been downright abysmal, ranking 31st in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play and dead last in Success Rate over the past six weeks. Over this stretch they’ve scored six, 17, nine, three and 18 against the Bills, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Dolphins and Panthers. And the Saints offense scored more than 18 points only once over that span: In Week 14 against the Jets, who are dead last in EPA/play and 31st in Defensive Success Rate.
It’s tough to lay points with this Saints team given their struggles offensively.
Although the Saints have a solid defense, Matt Ryan carved up them up when these teams met in Week 9, completing 23-of-30 passes for 343 yards and two touchdowns on the way to a 27-25 win for the Falcons. They actually held a 24-6 lead before Trevor Siemian led a fourth-quarter comeback to make it a one-score game.
Unfortunately for the Saints, they’ll have Taysom Hill at the helm this time, who isn’t built for throwing the ball all over the field. The Saints had just 4.8 yards per play and 4.1 yards per play with Hill under center against the Bucs last week.
There’s also potential value on the Falcons given the inflated number on the Saints in a “must-win game.” Since 1990, teams out of playoff contention are 94-56-4 (63%) against the spread (ATS) when facing teams that must win to keep their playoff hopes alive over the final two weeks of the regular season.
I’ll back the Falcons as underdogs down to +3 and sprinkle some on the moneyline.
Betting against the Cardinals hasn’t gone well for me this season, but this is the ideal spot to fade them after breaking their three-loss streak last week. I believe their win said a lot more about the Cowboys than the Cardinals as this Arizona team hasn’t been anywhere close to as good as it was to start the year.
Much to chagrin of our podcast producer Matt Mitchell, the Cardinals bucked the trend of late-season losses for head coach Kliff Kingbury:
- Cardinals before Week 8 under Kingsbury: 15-5-1
- Cardinals in Week 8 or later under Kingsbury: 9-19
This isn’t unique to Kingbury’s time with the Cardinals. Dating back to his stint at Texas Tech, his teams were 42-20 in Weeks 1-7 then 17-43 from Week 8 onward over his last nine seasons as a head coach.
His teams generally fall off a cliff late in the season (pun intended).
Over the past three weeks, the Cardinals are 16th in EPA/play, 22nd in Dropback EPA and 17th in Dropback Success Rate. The offense ranks bottom-five in points scored over that span — and it doesn’t help that Kyler Murray has struggled since returning from injury. Over the past four games, he’s just 18th among all quarterbacks in EPA + Completion Percentage Over Expected (CPOE) composite and 17th in Success Rate, per RBSDM.
The Cardinals also almost blew a 22-7 fourth-quarter lead over the Cowboys, who had been struggling offensively since Dak Prescott returned from injury.
The Cardinals defense is still 17th in rushing Success Rate (39.9%) and dead last in explosive run play rate, so Seahawks RB Rashad Penny could be in for a big day. With a motivated Russell Wilson playing in perhaps his last game as a Seahawk, I like their chances to keep this within the number.
I would bet this only to +6.
I’ve found myself betting on the Raiders three weeks in a row against the Browns, Broncos and Colts. But when I make an honest assessment of this team, the Raiders have been winning with smoke and mirrors.
They needed a last-second field goal to defeat a Browns team that was ravaged by COVID and playing its third-string quarterback in Nick Mullens. They defeated a Broncos team with Drew Lock at the helm. Then they were fortunate to face a Colts team dealing with COVID issues, with Carson Wentz and multiple starters on the offensive line missing the entire week of practice.
The Raiders are being overvalued in this spot against a Chargers team that beat them 28-14 when these teams first met and is getting healthier.
The Chargers had their full first-team secondary on the field for just the third time all season last week. A healthy Chargers defense doesn’t bode well for a Raiders offense that’s averaging just 15 points per game since losing Henry Ruggs III in Week 9, excluding their 36-33 win over the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
In addition, the Raiders have struggled with turning the ball over and haven’t generated many turnovers on defense, ranking 28th in turnover differential at -11. With the Chargers offense ranking sixth in EPA/play and fifth in Success Rate, they should have no problems against a Raiders defense that doesn’t force turnovers and is 25th in EPA/play.
I’ll lay the points with the Chargers up to -3.