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NFL Week 18 Picks: Rams vs Seahawks, Titans vs Jaguars, More

NFL Week 18 Picks: Rams vs Seahawks, Titans vs Jaguars, More article feature image
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Justin Ford/Getty Images. Pictured: Derrick Henry.

  • Brandon Anderson is already all over the NFL betting market.
  • He has examined every Week 18 game -- all 16 of them -- and identified the games you should bet right now.
  • Check out Anderson's full Week 18 breakdown and list of NFL picks below.

NFL Week 18 usually means all our attention is on postseason scenarios and final picks, the buzz rising as we rapidly approach the playoffs.

You’re forgiven if you’re still thinking about Damar Hamlin, his family, and the Buffalo Bills this week, though.

I know I am.

It’s nigh impossible to just turn our attention back to football, and any number of scheduling dominoes and motivations depend on what ends up happening with the outcome of that game. That makes it very tricky to think about betting on football this week — for any number of reasons.

If you’re not ready to bet on or even watch football right now, that’s perfectly understandable. I won’t be making any comments on the Bills or Bengals games myself — maybe Saturday. But seeing as how you’re here reading this article at Action Network, let’s look at the games and do our best.


It’s always tricky capping the final week of football, because the stakes are so different for every team and motivations are so key.

Some teams are already out and on vacation mode, some even incentivized to lose to keep a top draft pick. Others are pushing for the playoffs or a better seed once they get there. Some teams will likely rest key players before the playoffs. More than a few coaches, quarterbacks, and players on the fringes are playing for their futures too.

Be careful about over-capping for motivational angles though — don’t forget that books are already baking that into the line. In fact, for teams on the edge of the playoffs in “must-win” type situations, books appear to be over-baking that in. Check out this very important stat:

During the final two weeks of the regular season the last two decades, teams with a winning percentage between 40 and 60% that are also 5-to-25% better than their opponent by win rate are an abysmal 48-84-5 against the spread (ATS), failing to cover 64% of the time by 2.7 points per game.

There are six teams in Week 18 in danger of an overinflated line by this trend, which means we’d expect four of them to fail to cover: the Jaguars, Dolphins, Seahawks, Steelers, Bucs, and Saints. The trend gets even stronger for the underdog if they’re an underdog between 2-7 points, if the total is 41 or below, or if they just won outright last week.

Keep that trend in mind as we go around the league and make picks for every game and wrap up the regular season. Picks are sorted by confidence level: Bet, Lean, Pass or Wait.


Note: Odds are the best available for each pick as of writing. Shop for the best real-time lines with our NFL odds page.


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THE WAITS

Patriots at Bills / Ravens at Bengals

Obviously these are two very important games in a football sense, but their importance is minimal right now. Both out of respect and lack of information and lines, we’ll wait on these games for now.

THE PICK: Wait for now

Lions vs.

Packers (-4.5)

What an awesome matchup this is, with two teams that both deserve to be in the playoffs but only one spot available, wrapping up the regular season on Sunday night with a playoff spot on the line.

I want a little more time to dig into this one, and I’m also waiting to see if that line stuck in no man’s land moves in either direction. It’s possible it won’t until mid-Sunday, since a Seahawks victory earlier in the day eliminates Detroit from contention while a Rams win in that game makes this a play-in.

I’ll circle back Saturday and dig in further either way.

THE PICK: Wait to see if the line moves in either direction

Jets (-1) vs.

Dolphins

A Jets win last week might have made this the game of the week, but Mike White was poor in his return and the Jets are out. Miami needs a win and a Patriots loss to make the playoffs, but I fully expect the Jets to push for a win here regardless.

They’ll have a good chance if Skylar Thompson has to suit up since they destroyed his version of his team 40-17 earlier this season. This line seems to expect another Thompson start, but it’s still possible we could get Teddy Bridgewater, so let’s wait until we know for sure.

I did bet the Under 38.5 already. Miami has mirrored New York over the past six weeks, with a surprisingly good defense offsetting a lackluster offense. I’ll like the under even more if it’s Thompson, so let’s circle back Saturday.

THE PICK: Wait for definitive Miami QB news
OTHER ANGLES: Under 38.5

Giants vs.

Eagles (-14)

The Eagles still need that final win to lock up the division, the 1-seed, and a badly needed bye week. I’m pretty confident they’ll get it here, and the books certainly are too considering the line, but it’s really hard to bet this game with so little information.

Will Jalen Hurts play at all? Will the Giants rest starters with the team already fully locked into the 6-seed, when they can use this as a bye week themselves? I’m not sure I’ll want to bet this game either way but let’s wait to see if we get more clarity from either side.

THE PICK: Wait for clarity from either side


THE PASSES

Cowboys (-6.5) vs.

Commanders

Technically we might wait on this one too since a surefire Eagles win would also make this game meaningless for both teams, locking Dallas into the 5-seed and incentivizing them to rest before a road playoff game.

Dallas’s pass defense is vulnerable right now, but it looks like rookie Sam Howell will start at QB for Washington, nerfing that possible advantage. The Cowboys have won 10 of 13 against their rival and should get the win, but they may not need to if the Eagles go up big on the Giants simultaneously.

Besides, we already got this best of this one and then some. If you played our final Lookahead, we’re sitting on a Cowboys +821 ML ticket right now when the line is -295 in real life. I may consider a small hedge if we get a long Washington line in game, just in case the Cowboys call off the dogs, but otherwise we should be feeling pretty good.

THE PICK: Cowboys -6.5 (Pass)

Vikings (-8) vs.

Bears

The Bears will start Nathan Peterman at QB in Week 18, and Peterman is maybe the worst semi-regular NFL starter I’ve ever seen, enough so that I literally have a “Peterman” trend in Bet Labs reminding me to auto-bet against him. He’s 1-3 lifetime, with the three losses by 30, 32, and 44.

That said, I don’t need to bet on this game because Minnesota has very little incentive to try. The 1-seed is gone, so this is their only chance to rest some, and a loss locks in a game against the Giants, a team the Vikings just beat and a softer opponent than any potential 7-seed.

I do think Minnesota tries to get things going early just to get Kirk Cousins back into a rhythm and help Justin Jefferson seal up the receiving crown and OPOY, so I don’t mind a first-half Vikings play with Chicago 5-11 ATS in the first half. But with these wonky Vikes could probably even lose to Peterman.

THE PICK: Vikings -8 (Pass)

Buccaneers vs.

Falcons (-4.5)

This is a wonky line that has bounced around from Atlanta -7 early to Falcons -3 and is now stuck in the middle, and that’s because we don’t know yet if the Bucs will actually try. This garbage Tampa team has already guaranteed itself a home playoff game against a 12-plus-win team, so this banged-up unit has every incentive to rest most or all of this game.

If the Bucs try, they should win this game with ease. The run defense remains stout and should limit the only thing the Falcons do well, and Tom Brady can light up this defense. Brady typically plays at least a quarter or half in these rest spots, and he’s the sort of guy who might care about being a perfect 11-0 lifetime against the Falcons, so I don’t mind if you need to play the Bucs here.

I do like the under. Bucs unders are 11-5, Todd Bowles road unders are 26-14 (65%), and late division game trends all lean under too. Remember, even resting teams only have 53 guys so a lot of the defenders end up playing. That’s probably enough since Desmond Ridder and Atlanta are struggling to score.

THE PICK: Bucs +4.5 (Pass)
OTHER ANGLES: Lean under 40.5


THE LEANS

Chiefs (-9.5) vs.

Raiders

The Chiefs definitely want to win on Saturday since a win and any non-win by the Bills (including a tie, forfeit, or vacated game) would give Kansas City the 1-seed. A win probably also locks up a second MVP for our preseason +900 bet on Patrick Mahomes, and he’s only 430 yards from the all-time passing record too if you want to sprinkle an alternate prop over.

This game is no gimme, though. The Raiders are eliminated now but just gave the red-hot 49ers all they could handle, and Jarrett Stidham led this offense to 500 yards against maybe the league’s best defense. The Raiders have every reason to try, Stidham and McDaniels are playing for their future at some level, and Josh Jacobs is pushing for a rushing title.

This is the highest total of the week since neither defense measures up, so we could get a lot of fireworks. This is one of those overinflated lines where we have to bet the number, not the team. Patrick Mahomes is just 12-19-1 ATS (39%) as a favorite of more than seven points, including 1-8 ATS on the road.

This game is too important, and Mahomes is too good, for Kansas City to not find a way to take care of business eventually. That makes it a nice teaser leg and may present a good spot to live bet the Chiefs, and Jacobs and Mahomes overs look tasty. But I have to lean Raiders with the long, over-inflated number.

THE PICK: Lean Raiders +9.5
OTHER ANGLES: Live bet Chiefs, Bet Mahomes and Jacobs alternate overs

Chargers vs.

Broncos (-2)

The Chargers defense has quietly gotten really good. The first seven games before the bye — and before dumping Jerry Tillery — Los Angeles’s defense ranked 16th by DVOA, including 13th against the pass. Since the bye, they’re up to 9th by DVOA and 2nd against the pass.

The Chargers still can’t stop the run, by design, but Brandon Staley has made his stamp on this defense that should get Joey Bosa back too. Meanwhile, the Broncos defense has regressed over the back half of the season. The Broncos have no need to tank since they don’t own their pick anyway, but Denver is so bad that they’ve been tanking by default for months.

A Chargers win locks up the 5-seed and a much better playoff path, starting with a game against the Jaguars or Titans. Falling to the 6-seed instead means facing one of the Bills, Chiefs, or Bengals, and possibly all three to make the Super Bowl. The Chargers are peaking at the right time, and Denver’s only win since October came against Trace McSorley.

The problem for bettors is that a Ravens loss earlier Sunday would also lock up the 5-seed for the Chargers before they even take the field, which is why this line flipped from Chargers -3 to Broncos +2 when that Ravens game was rescheduled. The Ravens are a touchdown underdog and a loss there would make this a prime rest spot for L.A.

If the Ravens win, give me the Chargers at -4 or better. Otherwise it’s a meaningless game and a pass.

THE PICK: Lean Chargers -4 or better, but only if Ravens win

Cardinals vs.

49ers (-14)

Oh hey, speaking of Trace McSorley!

The Cardinals are terrible and there’s no football reason to bet them against Brock Purdy’s red-hot 49ers. All the focus has been on Purdy after the Jimmy Garoppolo injury, but I’m starting to wonder if Christian McCaffrey is the actual key. San Francisco’s offense ranked 22nd by DVOA before the CMC trade, league-average passing and 26th rushing. With McCaffrey, the Niners offense ranks 2nd, top three both passing and running.

The Cardinals offense actually rates slightly better without Kyler Murray than with him, particularly the run game, and you’re crazy if you don’t think I’m at least betting a half-unit on the last time we’ll ever get to bet on Kliff Kingsbury as an NFL head coach.

Kingsbury is 17-5-2 ATS (77%) as a road underdog, and he’s 16-3-1 ATS (84%) against all coaches who have yet to win a Super Bowl, including 3-1-1 against Kyle Shanahan. Since 2017, underdogs of 12 or more with a total at 41 or below are 9-2 ATS (82%), covering by 13.5 points per game and winning the last two outright.

Bet the number and send Kingsbury off with one last meaningless cover.

THE PICK: Lean Cardinals +14

Panthers vs.

Saints (-3.5)

This should have been a really fun play-in game for the NFC South if the Bucs had just lost like everyone wanted last week. Instead, both teams are out and this one is mostly meaningless outside of both QBs and coaches playing for their futures.

It’s a shame too, because both these teams are playing genuinely good football. Hilariously, this game features the league’s No. 1 passing DVOA offense — yes, that’s Sam Darnold somehow — against the No. 1 passing DVOA defense. The Saints took awhile but finally got back to that elite defense that was expected at the start of the year, and the Panthers D is playing well too.

I like the Under 41.5. The Saints are at 40 or below in eight of their last nine, and late-season division games when the home team is under in at least four of their last five games are 50-31-3 (62%) to the under. Over the last decade in Week 17 or later with both teams below 50% win rate in a meaningless game, unders are 22-12 (65%) with a total at 47 or below.

I’ll pass on a side but typically take the points above a field goal when I go under a low total.

THE PICK: Lean Under 41.5
OTHER ANGLES: Panthers +3.5 (Pass)

Texans vs.

Colts (-2.5)

Second verse, same as the first.

I like the Under 38.5. Both teams are 10-6 to the under, Davis Mills road unders are 8-4, and this game fits several late-season division under trends, along with that Week 17 unders trend we just mentioned. This is probably Lovie Smith’s last game in Houston, but he’s worked wonders with this defense. Incredibly, Houston’s defense ranks 3rd by DVOA over the past six weeks.

The Texans are absolutely the better team right now and would almost certainly be a bet if I had any reason to believe Houston would try at all. In reality, they have every motivation to lose and lock in the No. 1 draft pick, while the Colts probably would like to get Jeff Saturday one final win and Sam Ehlinger is playing for his career.

I won’t stop you from playing the Texans first half to keep things interesting for awhile, though.

THE PICK: Lean Under 38.5
OTHER ANGLES: Texans 1H, Colts -2.5 (Pass)


THE BETS

Rams vs.

Seahawks (-6.5)

Once you abandon Seattle Island, there’s no turning back.

This game is a bullseye for that trend I mentioned at the top. This is a classic case of an overinflated line for a must-win team.

I’m honestly not sure the Seahawks are even better than the Rams right now. Most metrics put these teams about equal over the back half of the season. L.A.’s offense has been much improved with Baker Mayfield at the helm and a greatly improved rushing attack thanks to a finally healthy Cam Akers. Seattle’s offense has been sliding, especially its young line, and the defense has long since turned back into a pumpkin.

And remember, the Rams have no incentive to tank. They don’t own their top draft pick anyway, and Baker Mayfield is playing for his NFL future, maybe even with the Rams. In a miserable, lost season for the Rams, this is effectively their Super Bowl, a chance to end their season on a positive note.

Los Angeles has won eight of the last 11 against Seattle, and the low total and relatively short underdog status only make that Week 17 trend even stronger in the Rams’ favor. This line is also inflated from Sunday’s results: teams coming off a loss of 17 or more facing teams that just won by 17 or more are 102-65-4 ATS (61%).

This number is just too long, banking far too much on Seattle’s must-win status. I think the Rams cover and have a very real chance to win and end Seattle’s season. I’ll play both the cover and the moneyline.

And remember, a Rams win makes the Lions-Packers game a play-in for the 7-seed. That should drop that Sunday night line, so if you like the Lions too, you bet a Rams-Lions ML parlay now at +879 at FanDuel.

THE PICK: Bet Rams +6.5
OTHER ANGLES: Rams +240 ML, Rams-Lions ML parlay +879

Browns vs.

Steelers (-3)

I bet the Under 40.5 immediately when this line posted after Pittsburgh’s Sunday night victory and wasn’t surprised when it dropped quickly to 38.5. It’s bounced back to the original total now and I still love the under.

You already know how good Pittsburgh’s defense has been since the return of T.J. Watt. Watt and the Steel Curtain have made us a lot of money the last couple months. But the Browns defense has gotten really good too. They’re up to 6th in DVOA over the last six weeks, including top three against the pass.

Cleveland is also struggling offensively since switching to Deshaun Watson. The offense is scoring just 12.6 points per game with Watson, and the Browns rank below average both passing and rushing with their new QB under center. It’s hard to see them finding a fix against this great Steelers defense, but the Browns defense should hold Pittsburgh in check too and keep this one interesting.

Steelers games are at 41 or below in seven of the last eight, and all five Watson Browns games have gone under this number. Watson is 9-4 to the under lifetime with a total below 44, and Kevin Stefanski unders below 44 are 10-4. This game also fits some late-season division under trends.

I wanted to keep riding Pittsburgh as a side here, but there are all sorts of red flags backing Cleveland. The Browns fit that Week 17 trend from the top better than any other team since they just won last week. Late-season division underdogs on a one-game winning streak are also 48-18-1 ATS (73%), and underdogs in late-season AFC North division games are 42-23-1 ATS (65%). The Steelers are also 4-11 ATS (27%) after beating the Ravens under Mike Tomlin, so this is a letdown spot even with the playoffs on the line.

I do like the matchup for Pittsburgh. Cleveland’s defense is great against the pass but still beatable on the ground, and the Steelers are running well, while Pittsburgh’s defensive strength in the run game matches up better.

Still, at +3, I have to lean Browns given all the trends red flagging Pittsburgh. I’ll skip a side and just ride the Under 40.5.

THE PICK: Bet Under 40.5
OTHER ANGLES: Lean Browns +3

Titans vs.

Jaguars (-6.5)

We’ve been waiting for this game for a couple weeks, knowing it would likely determine the AFC South, and it’s important to remember that context.

The Titans fell apart over the back half of the season, but it’s not fair to say they were exposed. It’s more accurate to say they’ve been besieged by injuries. All the focus has been on Ryan Tannehill, but the defensive injuries have been far more widespread and impactful.

Believe it or not, the numbers say Tennessee‘s offense hasn’t really fallen off a ton without Tannehill, mostly because the run game has finally taken off as Derrick Henry makes his late-season push. But the defense has cratered with all the injuries. With Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry, and David Long healthy the first 11 weeks, the Titans led the league in rushing defense and ranked top 10 by DVOA. Since then, they’ve plummeted to 30th.

But finally, Tennessee’s injury report is starting to clear up. Remember, the Titans essentially took a bye last week, and a number of these key starters have been resting for weeks as Tennessee nursed a huge division lead. It’s always been about getting healthy, for this game if needed, and for the playoffs. Almost everyone is practicing for Tennessee other than Tannehill, and that changes everything.

The Jaguars are playing well, but they’ve also caught a string of luck down the stretch. They beat a banged-up version of these Titans, shut down Zach Wilson’s Jets with Mike White out on a short week, and lucked into a walk-off pick-6 against the Cowboys.

Trevor Lawrence’s passing offense is hot, but this line is giving way too much credit to a Titans collapse that can be easily explained by injuries that no longer look relevant. Tennessee has a huge experience advantage in big spots like this, and Mike Vrabel has been outstanding as an underdog. He’s 21-9-1 ATS (70%) as a dog of three or more, including 19-12 SU with a 79% ROI. The Titans also fit squarely into that dangerous group of Week 17+ underdogs.

I’m in a position to cash nearly 25 units on the Jaguars if they win this game, thanks to backing Jacksonville before the season +800 and several times since to win the division. If you lucked into a similar spot like me, I would suggest at least a partial hedge on a Titans +230 ML.

If you do like the Titans, you should probably like the Under 40 too. Titans unders are 11-5, and a Titans cover would almost certainly be because of the healthy defense stepping up as the best unit on the field, not a miracle Josh Dobbs game.

Doug Pederson home unders are 33-14 (70%), including 5-2 this year, and Lawrence home unders are 12-4 (75%). Primetime unders are 34-19 (64%) on the season, and non-Monday night primetime unders are 41-20-2 (67%) over the past two decades when the total falls between 37 and 40.

How much do you trust the Titans defense to show up healthy and hang around, and do you trust Dobbs and this Derrick Henry offense to do enough?

I like the under best, but I also like the Titans. Because they’re likely correlated, I’ll play a +271 SGP on both. Tennessee has been a great first-half team, so if you prefer the Titans early but don’t trust them late once it’s down to Lawrence vs. Dobbs, you can go with that angle. Or you can just go all-in on a Titans ML and Under parlay at +530.

Everyone has given up too soon on these Titans. Vrabel and this defense may have a few tricks up their sleeves yet, and Saturday night could get interesting.

As of Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, the Titans are already down to +6 and the total at some sportsbooks is below 40. Use our live NFL odds page for the latest odds to ensure you’re able to get the best numbers for your best.

THE PICK: Bet Under 40 and Titans +6.5 together at +271
OTHER ANGLES: Hedge Jaguars futures by betting Titans +230 ML

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