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NFL Week 18 Picks, Predictions Against the Spread: For some teams, playoffs start this week

The final week of the regular season is here. With playoff spots and seeding on the line, what are our Week 18 NFL picks and predictions?

Heading into Week 18 of the NFL schedule, we have a handful of important games that will determine playoff seeding and positioning. The NFL standings suggest Week 18 should have several non-competitive contests. However, this is the NFL, and this has been one of the most unpredictable seasons ever. What are our NFL betting picks and predictions for Week 18 in the NFL?

NFL picks and predictions Week 18 | NFL lines and odds

This is the final week of the regular season. Many teams either need to win this week or win and get help in order to continue playing football this season. Upsets and controversies continue to permeate the NFL on a weekly basis. So how do the sportsbooks view Week 18?

Let’s take a look at the Week 18 picks, predictions, and NFL odds from DraftKings Sportsbook as of 2 PM ET on January 8.

Green Bay Packers (-3) at Detroit Lions

Head coach Matt LaFleur indicated the Packers will play their starters. I expect that to be true when this game starts. However, I do not buy for a second that Aaron Rodgers and company will be out there for more than a couple of series.

How much damage can they do? I don’t think it will be enough to fend off a Lions team playing hard until the end.

Packers vs. Lions Prediction: Lions 20, Packers 14

Indianapolis Colts (-14.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are undoubtedly the worst team in the NFL this year. However, two touchdowns is a very large number to lay on the road against anyone.

I don’t particularly care that the Colts haven’t beaten the Jaguars in Jacksonville since 2014. They’re certainly going to this week with the playoffs on the line. I just don’t think it will be by this many points.

Colts vs. Jaguars Prediction: Colts 27, Jaguars 13

Washington Football Team (-7) at New York Giants

I’m sure it’s happened before, but I cannot recall a team completely giving up the way the Giants have this season. They may be down to Jake Fromm at quarterback with a hobbled wide receiver group, but they are not trying to win … at all.

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The Giants attempted just 11 passes last week in a game where they trailed wire to wire. Late in the game, down multiple scores, they just ran. They were just going through the motions. Meanwhile, Washington, entering their final game as the Football Team, is playing hard for Ron Rivera. They will end this season on a high note.

Washington vs. Giants Prediction: Washington 24, Giants 6

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-5.5)

Much of analyzing Week 18 comes down to motivation. This game features two coaches that are dead men walking. However, the Bears are still playing hard for Matt Nagy while the Vikings have quit on Mike Zimmer.

Justin Fields was supposed to start, but it will be Andy Dalton following Fields’ positive COVID-19 test. Kirk Cousins will return from the reserve/COVID-19 list to play a meaningless game one week after he missed a contest the Vikings needed to win to save their season. I don’t expect much of an effort from Minnesota.

Bears vs. Vikings Prediction: Bears 23, Vikings 17

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)

Tyler Huntley should be out there once again for the Ravens. Both of these teams have outside shots at the playoffs, so they will be playing hard to at least give themselves a chance for things to go right.

Last week really felt like Ben Roethlisberger’s send-off. On the road in Baltimore, I don’t like his chances to win a game averaging 2.67 yards per attempt. The Steelers got the better of the Ravens in their first meeting. Baltimore gets them back here.

Steelers vs. Ravens Prediction: Ravens 26, Steelers 20

Tennessee Titans (-10) at Houston Texans

The Titans have dropped two straight on the road and also lost to the Texans when these teams met in Week 11 in Tennessee. Houston continues to play hard, with Davis Mills playing better than expected.

While I don’t see the Texans sweeping the Titans, this number feels like too much. It presumes a heavily motivated Titans team that needs this win for the No. 1 seed will walk all over an unmotivated Texans team. Houston is going to try and at least make this competitive.

Titans vs. Texans Prediction: Titans 27, Texans 20

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (-6)

This is an extremely difficult game to predict. Neither team cares … at all. The Browns shut down Baker Mayfield, and the Bengals are holding out Joe Burrow.

If you were thinking of betting on this game, I would reconsider that position. It is a total toss-up between two completely unmotivated teams. I guess I’ll go with Case Keenum over Brandon Allen.

Bengals vs. Browns Prediction: Browns 22, Bengals 16

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8)

The Bucs can’t catch the Packers for the No. 1 seed, but they do have a reason to win this week. Improving their playoff positioning increases their odds at a second home game should they advance beyond the Wild Card round.

The Bucs eviscerated the Panthers 32-6 in their first meeting. It will be a bit tougher this time around, missing key players like Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette, and Antonio Brown. Regardless, I don’t see how Sam Darnold has any success this week … or ever.

Panthers vs. Buccaneers Prediction: Buccaneers 31, Panthers 10

New England Patriots (-6.5) at Miami Dolphins

The Patriots are coming off laying a 50-burger on the Jaguars. They need this game to have an outside shot at winning the AFC East should the Bills somehow fall to the Jets (not happening).

There are two tricky things in play here: 1) The Dolphins saw their season come to an end last week, which usually impacts motivation. 2) New England will likely be scoreboard watching — if they see the Bills up by a million at halftime, they may pull their starters. It’s an impossible game to handicap. When that happens, I typically take the points.

Patriots vs. Dolphins Prediction: Patriots 23, Dolphins 20

New Orleans Saints (-3.5) at Atlanta Falcons

The Saints need to win in order to make the playoffs. They would already be in had they not lost at home to the Falcons in Week 9.

Look for the Saints to get the Falcons back in this one. Taysom Hill is starting this time (it was Trevor Siemian last time), and despite the game being between two division rivals, the Saints are clearly way more motivated.

Saints vs. Falcons Prediction: Saints 24, Falcons 17

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-16)

When these teams met at the Meadowlands in Week 10, the Bills won 45-17. Now, with the AFC East crown on the line, the Bills will once again leave no doubt.

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Zach Wilson has played better as of late, and the Jets are playing hard until the end. Unfortunately, it just won’t matter. Josh Allen is going to lead the Bills to an AFC East title.

Jets vs. Bills Prediction: Bills 38, Jets 10

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (-6.5)

The Seahawks are a tough team to read. I’ve said for years Pete Carroll should be fired, but they still seem to be playing hard for him despite their season being over.

The Cardinals are coming off an impressive road win over the Cowboys but don’t really have much to play for. They would need the Rams to fall at home to the 49ers in order to have a shot at taking the NFC West title away from them with a win. I expect Russell Wilson, the ultimate competitor, to do everything he can to prevent that from happening. Plus, if the Rams are clearly going to win, the Cardinals may pull their starters.

Seahawks vs. Cardinals Prediction: Cardinals 24, Seahawks 21

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (-5.5)

It’s difficult to find Week 18 games where both teams have something to play for. This is one of those games. The Rams need this win to secure the NFC West. San Francisco needs this win to make the playoffs.

With both teams heavily motivated, I expect a highly competitive contest. The 49ers smoked the Rams 31-10 back in Week 10. Matthew Stafford and friends intend to get them back. However, I like the 49ers to keep it close regardless of whether it is Trey Lance or Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback.

49ers vs. Rams Prediction: Rams 27, 49ers 24

Sunday Night Football: Week 18 picks and predictions

Let’s look at the current odds for the Sunday Night Football game and make our final pick and prediction for Week 18 of the 2021 NFL season.

Los Angeles Chargers (-3) at Las Vegas Raiders

The Game of the Week features a de facto playoff game in the AFC West. Both teams have a win-and-in scenario with the loser going home.

The Chargers bested the Raiders when these teams met in Los Angeles. That was way back in Week 4. Unless one team is way better than the other, I don’t like to bet on divisional sweeps. The Chargers are the better team and the one I’d prefer to see in the playoffs, but this is the type of game they lose. Unfortunately, lose, they will.

Chargers vs. Raiders Prediction: Raiders 26, Chargers 24

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here. Don’t forget to listen to the PFN Fantasy Football podcast and check out our free fantasy newsletter.

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