Betting

NFL Week 18 Betting: Odds, Spreads, Picks, Predictions For Sunday Slate

Jalen Hurts Eagles vs. Giants

Motivation brings uncertainty for bettors in the regular season finale. That’s why I’m only providing full breakdowns on certain matchups this week, because how teams have performed throughout the year matters much less when starters are purposely being limited, if not outright held out. I discuss every game on the Sunday slate below.

Be sure to check out Chris Farley’s motivation article if you’re considering a bet on the Week 18 slate.  

Jets (7-9) at Dolphins (8-8)

Line Report

  • Opening Line: Dolphins -2.5
  • Current Line: Dolphins -3.5
  • Opening Total: 40.5
  • Current Total: 39.5

Bottom Line

The Jets are eliminated from the playoffs, but the Dolphins can get in with a win and a Patriots loss. This is one of many lines that were all over the road this week, as this line opened at Dolphins -2.5, then moved all the way to Jets -1.5, and has now come all the way back to Dolphins -3.5. That run back to the Dolphins’ side was driven by the Jets ruling out Mike White, their right guard, and both of their offensive tackles. Stationary Joe Flacco will now get the start behind an injury-ravaged Jets’ offensive line. Miami’s defense now has a significant advantage in the trenches. Flacco getting the start gives me some interest in Tyler Conklin’s over receptions if that opens at 2.5 or better. 

On the Dolphins’ side Skyler Thompson is in at quarterback, while elite left tackle Terron Armstead is now listed as doubtful. Both defenses will have a trench advantage in this contest. I’m now going to be more Dolphins-heavy in winner pools, while still getting some exposure to the Jets, but I will not directly bet this game against the spread.

Browns (7-9) at Steelers (8-8)

Line Report

  • Opening Line: Steelers -3
  • Current Line: Steelers -2.5
  • Opening Total: 39
  • Current Total: 38.5

Bottom Line

The Steelers are highly motivated, as a win will keep Mike Tomlin’s streak of non-losing seasons alive while Pittsburgh could sneak into the playoffs if the Dolphins and Patriots both lose. Pittsburgh enters this game in good shape on the health front, which is another positive for Steelers bettors. Browns stud right tackle Jack Conklin will miss this contest and edge Jadeveon Clowney has been sent home, which are both positives for the Steelers. Those losses for Cleveland, paired with the Steelers being highly motivated, have me more interested in a Pittsburgh bet than I was earlier in the week. I bet Diontae Johnson’s over 51.5 yards receiving during our Player Prop Happy Hour show.

Ravens (10-6) at Bengals (11-4)

Line Report

  • Opening Line: Bengals -7
  • Current Line: Bengals -8.5
  • Opening Total: 42.5
  • Current Total: 41.5

Bottom Line

I have seen this line as high as Bengals -10, which makes this one of the many games that has seen major line movement this week. Lamar Jackson has been ruled out once again and Tyler Huntley is still on the injury report as of early Saturday morning. Since both of these teams are likely to face each other again next week, I have no interest in betting on this game. Even if Cincinnati plays all of their starters for the full contest, there’s a strong chance the Bengals hold back some strategic wrinkles for next week’s playoffs matchup. Ben Wolby was very enthusiastic about Tyler Boyd’s over 28.5 yards receiving during our Player Prop Happy Hour show. That’s a supremely achievable number, even if the Bengals take a commanding lead and end up pulling starters late.

Buccaneers (8-8) at Falcons (6-10)

Line Report

  • Opening Line: Falcons -7.5
  • Current Line: Falcons -3.5
  • Opening Total: 39
  • Current Total: 40.5

Bottom Line

This contest is a fine example of why I greatly reduce my action during the regular season finale. Early in the week oddsmakers expected Tampa Bay to sit its starters, as it is locked into the fourth seed. As the week progressed this line significantly changed, because the Buccaneers are signaling that their active starters will at least start the game. I have no interest in betting on Desmond Ridder’s Falcons, and we can’t confidently expect Tom Brady’s offense to play this whole game. 

 

Patriots (8-8) at Bills (12-3)

Line Report

  • Opening Line: Bills -7.5
  • Current Line: Bills -7.5
  • Opening Total: 42.5
  • Current Total: 42.5

Bottom Line

The Patriots will be the AFC’s seventh seed with a win against Buffalo. Jakobi Meyers, along with cornerbacks Jonathan Jones and Jalen Mills, are still listed as questionable for New England. Thankfully, Damar Hamlin’s situation is vastly improved, which is the most important thing related to the Buffalo Bills or the NFL as a whole right now. Assuming the Chiefs win on Saturday, the Bills’ motivation will be driven by playing for Hamlin while securing the second seed in the conference. Hamlin’s situation is far bigger than football, so I won’t be betting on this contest in any capacity.

Vikings (12-4) at Bears (3-13)

Line Report

  • Opening Line: Bears +1
  • Current Line: Bears +6.5
  • Opening Total: 46.5
  • Current Total: 44.5

Bottom Line

Nathan Peterman is starting at quarterback for the Bears, which is why this line has moved as much as it has. If Minnesota is a full go the Vikings’ defense will have a trench advantage in this contest, and their offense is well equipped to approach 30 points against Chicago’s injury- and trade-reduced defense. The mystery here is if the Vikings even play all of their starters, are they going to pull them with a half or more to play? That’s my concern with a Vikings bet here, as they are just about locked into the third seed with the 49ers hosting the Cardinals later in the afternoon. It wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see some of Minnesota’s best players on a pitch count. 

Justin Jefferson needs 194 yards receiving to break the single-season record. Jefferson obviously needs a monster game to achieve that feat, but he couldn’t ask for a much better matchup to have a shot at that milestone. The concern there is the same for the Vikings in general, it would make sense for Minnesota to limit, if not outright hold out, some of its best players.

Texans (2-13-1) at Colts (4-11-1)

Line Report

  • Opening Line: Colts -3
  • Current Line: Colts -2.5
  • Opening Total: 38
  • Current Total: 39.5

Bottom Line

Sam Ehlinger will once again take over at quarterback for the Colts, which makes this already volatile offense even less trustworthy. Outside of last week’s blowout loss to the surging Jaguars, the Texans have been quite feisty over the past month. Houston could play itself out of the first overall pick with a win here and a Bears loss against the Vikings. If I were a Texans fan, I would be a step past concerned about that outcome. I’m not going to bet this game directly, but I have a small lean towards the Texans since Ehlinger is starting for Indianapolis.

 

Panthers (6-10) at Saints (7-9)

Line Report

  • Opening Line: Saints -4
  • Current Line: Saints -3.5
  • Opening Total: 40
  • Current Total: 41.5

Bottom Line

On our Thursday SiriusXM Radio show, Jade McCarthy framed this game as a big job interview. That’s a great way to look at this matchup because that’s exactly what this is for the majority of coaches and players involved, including names like Carolina interim head coach Steve Wilks and quarterback Sam Darnold. Chris Olave is off the injury report, so I’ll have my eyes on his over yards receiving line when that eventually opens against Carolina’s injury-reduced secondary. I will consider taking an alt receiving line on Olave around 100 yards, as he’s a big game away from entering the Offensive Rookie of the Year conversation.

Chargers (10-6) at Broncos (4-12)

Line Report

  • Opening Line: Broncos +3
  • Current Line: Broncos -3.5
  • Opening Total: 40.5
  • Current Total: 40.5

Bottom Line

First, I’ll explain the reasoning behind the massive line movement in this game. The Chargers are incentivized to keep the fifth seed, as a trip to Jacksonville or Tennessee is far more appealing than a first-round date with Joe Burrow’s Bengals. That said, the Ravens are expected to lose to the Bengals in the early afternoon slate. If that happens, the Chargers are locked into the fifth seed and the result of this contest has no bearing on their playoff seeding. That likely results in the Chargers limiting, if not outright holding out, many of their best players in this matchup.

After their blowout loss to the Rams a couple of weeks ago, we have to be a little concerned that Denver mails it in here, even after a strong performance against Kansas City last week. I’d be more concerned about that type of outcome if Nathaniel Hackett was still Denver’s head coach. Given all the factors of this game, I am in a large-field winner pool where I’m currently tied for the best record of the season. I’m considering Denver as a differentiator option in that pool.

Giants (9-6-1) at Eagles (13-3)

Line Report

  • Opening Line: Eagles -13.5
  • Current Total: 40.5
  • Opening Total: 40.5
  • Current Total: 42.5

Bottom Line

The Giants are expected to rest their starters in this contest, while the Eagles need a win here to clinch the NFC’s top seed. Lane Johnson and Josh Sweat are both out for the Eagles, while Jalen Hurts could make his return in this important matchup. The Eagles blew out the Giants in MetLife Stadium earlier this season, so this is an Eagles bet or pass for me with New York likely sitting its starters. Eagles player props have not yet opened, but when they do I intend to build a same game parlay around a game flow where the Eagles blow the doors off the Giants.

Cardinals (4-12) at 49ers (12-4)

Line Report

  • Opening Line: 49ers -13.5
  • Current Line: 49ers -13.5
  • Opening Total: 40
  • Current Total: 39.5

Bottom Line

James Conner, DeAndre Hopkins, and a number of defenders have been ruled out for Arizona. David Blough will get the start for the Cardinals behind an injury-reduced offensive line, against one of the best defensive fronts in League in San Francisco. The 49ers have a game-derailing trench matchup in this contest. The 49ers can lock up the second seed in the NFC with a win, or the first seed if the Eagles lose to the Giants. San Francisco and Philadelphia both have 4:25 starts, so we can expect San Francisco to be a full go in a potential smash spot in this contest. I will have my eyes peeled for Defensive Player of the Year favorite Nick Bosa to record a sack in a plus matchup.

 

Rams (5-11) at Seahawks (8-8)

Line Report

  • Opening Line: Seahawks -6.5
  • Current Line: Seahawks -5.5
  • Opening Total: 41.5
  • Current Total: 41.5

Bottom Line

The Seahawks will be a full go in this matchup, as a Seahawks win paired with a Green Bay loss on Sunday night gets Seattle in the playoffs. The Rams narrowly lost to Seattle back in Week 13 and, apart from last week’s game against the Chargers, the Rams have played competitive football over Last month. I don’t have a ton of confidence in Seattle, so I’d take the Rams against the spread or pass here. I took Geno Smith to beat 237.5 yards passing and Ben Wolby took Geno to throw for at least 1.5 touchdowns on our Player Prop Happy Hour show. I’m interested in pairing those two options at the right odds. I will look into making a second variant of that same game parlay with D.K. Metcalf’s yards receiving over.

Cowboys (12-4) at Commanders (7-8-1)

Line Report

  • Opening Line: Commanders +5.5
  • Current Line: Commanders +6.5
  • Opening Total: 41.5
  • Current Total: 41.5

Bottom Line

Jerry Jones has said that the Cowboys will be playing their starters, which means their defense has a significant trench advantage against Washington. That puts Sam Howell in a tough spot for his first NFL start. My concern in handicapping this contest is that if the Eagles start to steamroll the Giants, do the Cowboys begin pulling starters? That form of uncertainty is enough for me to stay away from this contest against the spread.

Lions (8-8) at Packers (8-8)   

Line Report

  • Opening Line: Packers -4.5
  • Current Line: Packers -4.5
  • Opening Total: 48.5
  • Current Total: 48.5

Bottom Line

This is a win-and-in game for the Packers, so they will be highly motivated. If the Seahawks lose to the Rams, this becomes a win-and-in game for Lions. Detroit will be preparing for this contest as if it’s going to be a win-and-in game. Even if Seattle wins, I’m more confident in Lions playing this game at full tilt than I am in most teams that are in the spoiler role. With that in mind, I took Jamaal Williams over 52.5 yards rushing and Allen Lazard to beat 48.5 yards receiving on our Player Prop Happy Hour show.

WATCH: Week 18’s Best Player Prop Bets

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