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NFL Week 18 Predictions: Data-Driven Picks for Buccaneers vs Falcons, Patriots vs Bills, More

NFL Week 18 Predictions: Data-Driven Picks for Buccaneers vs Falcons, Patriots vs Bills, More article feature image
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Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Brady.


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NFL Odds & Picks

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Bucs vs. Falcons First Quarter Spread
1 p.m. ET
Cade York FG & XP Made
1 p.m. ET
 Bengals & Broncos ML Parlay
1 p.m. ET
Isaiah McKenzie Receiving Yards
1 p.m. ET
Giants vs. Eagles First Half Spread
4:25 p.m. ET
 Seahawks & Packers ML Parlay
4:25 p.m. ET

Pick
Buccaneers First Quarter +1.5 (-148)
Best Book
Time
1 p.m. ET

Sean Koerner: It sounds like Tampa Bay is going to play its starters, although how deep into the game is unknown. If I had to guess, the Bucs will want the starting offense to engineer a touchdown drive before putting the reserves in.

This line is based on the game line of Falcons -4, but Tampa Bay should probably be the favorite here since it’s the one quarter we’re most likely to see its starters for the entirety.

I’d say there’s a 25-30% chance this game is tied after the first quarter, so there seems to be quite a bit of value in this pick.

Pick: Buccaneers 1Q +1.5 (-148)



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Pick
Cade York Over 1.5 FG Made (+146; Caesars)
Under 1.5 XP Made(+140; DraftKings)
Best Book
Time
1 p.m. ET

Nick Giffen: This matchup sets up perfectly for York to go over on his field goals, but go under on his extra points prop.

That’s because Pittsburgh has a solid rush defense, taking away the Browns‘ offensive strength and forcing Cleveland into more third-and-long situations. Deshaun Watson just hasn’t been right this year, locking in his worst season to date on nearly every advanced passing metric.

The Steelers also fit this profile, as they’ve allowed over 1.5 field-goal attempts in 11 of 16 games, while allowing under 1.5 extra-point attempts in 9 of 16.

So while the Browns pass up on field goals at the fourth-highest rate in the league, I think this is a situation where books have over-adjusted for that.

I have York projected to go over 1.5 field goals 44.1% of the time, and would bet the over down to +140. I have him going under 1.5 extra points 46.5% of the time and would bet it down to +130.


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Pick
 Bengals & Broncos ML Parlay (+102)
Best Book
Time
1 p.m. ET (CIN); 4:25 p.m. ET (DEN)

Billy Ward: Similar to the NFC, the Chargers, who play the Broncos, have nothing to play for if the Bengals win earlier in the day. L.A. would likely rest starters as it’d be locked into the 5th seed without needing a win.

This is the likelier scenario, since the Bengals are motivated and heavy (9.5-point) favorites. However, you could also play this one in reverse for big odds. If Baltimore wins early on Sunday, the Chargers need to beat the Broncos to avoid dropping to the sixth seed and a much tougher matchup. The Bolts would be huge favorites over Denver if we knew they were playing all out.

A Ravens/Chargers parlay pays out nearly ten to one, so I’ll be sprinkling a quarter unit on that as a hedge against my full-unit bet on the Bengals and Broncos.


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Pick
 Isaiah McKenzie Under 33.5 Receiving Yards (-117)
Best Book
Time
1 p.m. ET

Nick Giffen: I’m trying to figure out why this line is so bloated, given McKenzie’s average receiving yards is 28.9 and his median is just 21.

This isn’t a situation where I’d expect him to suddenly increase in usage or efficiency given the matchup. Slot receivers are just 24th in yards per route run against the Patriots. In addition, the Pats also skew heavily toward man defense compared to league median, and McKenzie has been more efficient against zone.

Add in his plummeting snap count in recent weeks (36% in Week 17, 36% in the one drive against the Bengals) with increased usage from Buffalo’s receiving options that are further down the depth chart, and I can’t see how McKenzie gets the necessary volume and efficiency combination to crack this number.

I’d bet this down quite far — to around 24.5 yards.


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Pick
Eagles First Half -9 (-110)
Best Book
Time
4:25 p.m. ET

Billy Ward: The Giants-Eagles game is one of a handful on Sunday where one team has a lot more to play for than the other. Philadelphia can clinch the NFC’s top seed – and the highly valuable first-round bye – with a win.

The Giants are locked into the sixth seed, and will likely be resting their starters. My expectation is that the Eagles treat this as a must-win game early, building up a comfortable lead before possibly resting starters.

Jalen Hurts is officially questionable, but Philadelphia probably wants to get him some game action before he returns in the NFC Divisional round.

Therefore, expect the Eagles to run up the score a bit in the first half, before taking their foot off the gas late. While the spread is my preferred option, the first half over of 22.5 is appealing as well – my only hangup is that the Giants might not contribute much to the cause.


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Pick
 Seahawks & Packers ML Parlay (+121)
Best Book
Time
4:25 p.m. ET (SEA); 8:20 p.m. ET (GB)

Billy Ward: Due to the larger juice from sportsbooks, I rarely consider parlays (of any kind) a good bet. However, Week 18 is an exception.

The Seahawks, Packers and Lions – all 8-8 – are vying for the last playoff spot in the NFC. Green Bay controls its own fate, while Seattle needs a win and a Lions win. Detroit needs a win and a Seahawks loss.

The Packers/Lions game is the night game, meaning they’ll know the result of Seattle’s game before kickoff. While Dan Campbell’s knee biters will tell you they’d love to play spoiler, there will be a big letdown in Detroit if the Seahawks eliminate them from playoff contention.

Therefore, we’re getting some correlation here between seemingly unrelated events. We’ll take that at plus-money every time. Be sure to shop around at all books you have access to, as the exact line could be slightly better or worse depending on when you bet it.


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