NFL Week 18 Lookahead Picks: How to Parlay Weeks 17 & 18 to Gain an Advantage
Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images. Pictured: Russell Wilson.
Welcome to our final edition of The Lookahead this season.
While everyone else is betting on this weekend’s games, we continue to get out ahead with a pair of picks for next Sunday, securing that sweet closing line value. Last week, we locked in early on Steelers-Ravens and already earned a full touchdown on the under and four points on the spread.
Because Week 18 is such a different animal, this week’s Lookahead will be a bit different. Some teams need to win to secure a postseason berth or push for playoff seeding, while others will be resting, tanking for a draft pick or trying to get a look at youngsters. Motivations are key.
All but a few Week 18 games will be directly impacted by Week 17 results. A Week 17 win here will trigger one team resting later, and so on. Some of the posted Week 18 lines already suggest expected rest, like the Bucs a coin flip in Atlanta or the Chargers underdogs in Denver.
Betting early on a Week 18 line is essentially a parlay — you’re implicitly expecting one result this week to set up your result next week, and it makes things tricky. So why not go the other way and actually bet the parlays explicitly, gaining value on the number?
Books won’t let us parlay the same team in back-to-back weeks. That’s too obviously correlated. But like we did with the season awards a few weeks ago, we can get creative with parlays and pair correlated moneyline results using playoff scenarios. These are longer shots of course, but the right Week 17 result will set us up with a juicy Week 18 moneyline if we hit.
I’ve already got your NFL Week 17 picks covered, so let’s look ahead and get creative with some Weeks 17 and 18 ML parlays we can bend in our favor.
Week 17: Saints +235 at Eagles
Week 18: Cowboys +175 at Commanders
Parlay Price: +821 at bet365
If the Eagles take care of business against the Saints as expected by the line, then Philadelphia clinches the division and the 1-seed. That should trigger a week of rest for the Eagles, but it also means Dallas is locked into the 5-seed and has nothing to play for in Week 18. That’s why the Cowboys are underdogs here, expecting that result.
But what if the Saints win?
Jalen Hurts is not expected to play, and Philly is already down stud tackle Lane Johnson and nickel corner Avonte Maddox. The Eagles are still good without those guys, but not the same level of juggernaut.
Besides, the Saints are playing pretty good football. They rank 10th in DVOA over the past six weeks with an elite pass defense, and are top 13 on both offense and defense. And don’t forget, this team is still playing for the postseason.
If New Orleans wins, everything will be on the line for Philly in Week 18 — the 1-seed, division and even a home playoff game. Dallas would certainly give full effort in Week 18 in that spot, and I don’t need to convince you the Cowboys should be a clear favorite against the Commanders if they’re actually trying.
Even better, it’s actually possible Washington is already eliminated. If they lose this week and see a couple results go the wrong direction — like Lions and Packers wins — they’ll be out. That could even mean a look at Sam Howell or other youngsters if the season is gone.
If you really want to go full Charlie from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you can add Week 18 moneyline picks for the 49ers and/or Vikings, both still alive for the 1-seed if they win this week and the Eagles lose.
A Saints win this week is unlikely, but if it happens, our parlay will leave us a juicy +791 moneyline on a favored Cowboys team in Week 18.
THE PICK: Week 17 Saints +235 ML & Week 18 Cowboys +175 ML parlay at +821
Week 17: Broncos +575 at Chiefs
Week 18: Patriots +370 at Bills
Parlay Price: +3072 at DraftKings
We’re in serious long-shot territory now, but let’s play this one out.
The Broncos have had a lost season, but they fired Nathaniel Hackett, and we’ve seen many teams get the dead-cat bounce the game after firing a lame-duck coach. The Chiefs have played with their food and allowed teams like the Texans and the Broncos to hang around lately.
Denver is a heavy underdog playing for pride. But if the unthinkable happens and the Chiefs are upset, the Bills would play Monday night in Cincinnati with a chance to secure the 1-seed. This is implicitly a bet on that happening.
If the Bills do win and lock up a bye, they have nothing left to play for in Week 18. That could mean resting for some or all of the game, and it opens the door for the Patriots as a huge underdog.
New England would be eliminated with a loss this weekend, but they’ve lucked into Teddy Bridgewater. The Pats have piled up wins against poor QBs this year.
If the Patriots hold serve against Miami, they end up playing Buffalo’s backups in a win-and-in scenario to make the playoffs in this scenario. It takes a lot to get there — a huge Denver upset, a coin flip Bills result in Cincy, and hopefully a Patriots win over Miami — but the number here is wildly long and far longer than it should be considering the correlations.
You wanna gamble? Let’s gamble. If the Broncos pull off the upset Sunday, we’ll have options to hedge out Monday night or let it ride and go for the huge payout in Week 18.
THE PICK: Week 17 Broncos +575 ML & Week 18 Patriots +370 ML parlay at +3072
Week 17: Browns +110 at Commanders
Week 17: Jets -125 at Seahawks
Week 18: Lions +167 at Packers
Parlay Price: +909 at bet365
Do you still believe in the Lions making the playoffs? I do.
If the Commanders and Seahawks both lose in Week 17 while the Lions take care of the Bears, then Detroit will again control its destiny heading into the regular season finale, needing only a win to secure a playoff spot. This is a bet on that path.
The Commanders will start Carson Wentz in a coin-flippy game against a Browns defense that’s quietly gotten very good, especially against the pass. Seattle is playing for its life at home but the Jets are one of my favorite plays of the week with that elite defense the difference against a badly faltering Seahawks D. I also expect the Lions to take care of business at home this week against the Bears, ranked dead last in DVOA over the last six weeks.
If those three results go our way, Detroit will control its destiny. Of course, that might turn into a play-in game if the Packers beat Minnesota this weekend, so it won’t be easy in Lambeau, but we’d be getting a +909 ML ticket. That would give us a hedge opportunity on a team that’s a short dog right now.
It could get even better. If the Packers lose to the Vikings this weekend, Green Bay is eliminated. That could mean a flat Packers team in Week 18. It might even mean Green Bay taking another look at Jordan Love to see what the future holds, and that would give us a +909 ML ticket on a favorite playing for the postseason.
The Lions have other paths to the playoffs, but this is the easiest way to get there. If Washington and Seattle lose this weekend, Detroit controls its destiny.
THE PICK: Week 17 Browns +110 ML & Week 17 Jets -125 ML & Week 18 Lions +167 ML parlay at +909
Week 17: Texans +170 vs Jaguars
Week 18: Vikings -135 at Bears
Parlay Price: +370 at DraftKings
Could the Texans beat the Jaguars?
It sounds crazy given how hot Jacksonville has been, but this game means very little for the Jags since they’re looking ahead to a Week 18 winner-take-all game against the Titans for the division.
The Jaguars are not likely to make the playoffs with a loss in that game, so it’s possible they could take their foot off the gas or stumble in their preparation.
Besides, Houston nearly beat the Cowboys and Chiefs, then took down the Titans. The Texans defense is playing great, and they’ve owned Jacksonville, winning nine straight games and 15 of the last 17.
If the Texans do pull off the upset, they would fall outside the No. 1 pick for the first time in months, assuming the Bears lose to the Lions. That would put Chicago in control of its destiny to lock up the No. 1 pick, needing only a loss in Week 18. That sets up a clear tank spot for the Bears against a Vikings team that may still be pushing for playoff seeding.
Chicago doesn’t need the No. 1 pick for a QB with Justin Fields in tow, but it’s never a bad thing to secure the top spot and your opportunity at the best in the draft, or a chance to trade down for a king’s ransom.
If the Texans upset a Jaguars team looking ahead, we’ll have a great ML spot betting against a Chicago team incentivized to lose.
THE PICK: Week 17 Texans +170 ML & Week 18 Vikings -135 ML parlay at +370