We made it!
After a crazy preseason, and the longest regular season in National Football League history, with the most games in history, we have got to Week 18.
The last regular season week of the NFL season.
The way it was looking a few weeks ago, many people thought that the final two days of the campaign (that is right, there are two Saturday games) would be chaotic, with double digit meaningful games on the slate. But that is not the case now: 11 of the 14 playoff teams are known already, and most of those teams have little to play for seeding-wise.
If you notice, though, there are still three spots up for grabs: two in the AFC, and one in the NFC. The NFC comes down to two teams: San Francisco needs to beat the Rams to make it, or see the Saints lose. But the 49ers have a tough task: LA needs the win to lock up the NFC West, and the second seed in the NFC. With Arizona hot on the Rams’ tail, San Fran probably has the toughest NFC task.
New Orleans can get in with a win over the Falcons, and a San Fran loss, and both games will be going on simultaneously in the late window.
Of course, there are two spots left in the AFC. One of them could be locked up by the Colts, IF they can beat 2-14 Jacksonville. A win by Indy in the early window would then make the Sunday night game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders, which is the last game of the regular season, makes that contest the best thing that could happen: win the game, and you are in the playoffs, with a loss sending the other team home until next September.
Other games matter too, with the AFC East title still up for grabs between Buffalo and New England (both 10-6), and the top seed in the AFC still not locked up: the Titans will be the top seed with a win over Houston.
What about the rest of the games?
Well, I am not going to lie to you: there are some games this week that if I found myself betting on them, I would have to question what I am doing with my life. The worst thing you can do is try to bet on a game between teams with nothing to play for: there could be so many different outcomes, as well as lineups, that would really make it very tough to handicap. Of course, there are always prop bets to win in bad games, though, so maybe that a silver lining?
So with all of that in mind, which are the biggest games of NFL Week 18? Take a look below, as I break them down, and then check out the How to Bet podcasts for our favorite games of the week.
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The Broncos are out of the playoffs after collapsing down the stretch, so this game means nothing to them. But it is a HUGE game for the Chiefs, who can put pressure on the Titans for the top seed in the AFC.
In reality, though, it might just be important for Kansas City to go into the playoffs on a winning note, after the last second loss to the Bengals in Week 17. The loss might not have been the worst thing ever, but two losses on the trot? That might be an issue after they did not lose for two months.
This was all set to be a massive game, but both teams are now in the playoffs, and all but set to be where they are now in the seeding.
Of course, it is still the Cowboys vs. the Eagles in Philadelphia, with the fans having all afternoon and early evening to get “ready” for the rivalry game. Can Gardner Minshew have a night?
Read more about this game in our Saturday Night Football Best Odds & Bets guide.
Cincinnati locked up the AFC North with an impressive 34-31 win over the Chiefs, which might help the Bengals down the road. This game is basically meaningless now, so I would expect to see some backups in action.
The Browns lost 26-14 to the Steelers on Monday Night Football, and this has to be a very disappointing campaign for the Browns, who were the only team eliminated from the playoffs from the AFC North BEFORE they played Monday.
This might end up being a massive game, or it might end up as a nothing game. If the Colts win in the early window, they will have 10 wins. Obviously, if someone wins the Sunday night game, that team would have 10 wins.
Those two things would eliminate both teams from the playoffs. But if the Colts were to LOSE, this game would be massive.
But hey, it is a rivalry game, and maybe Big Ben’s final game, and both teams will be in the playoff hunt when the kickoff starts the game
This one is pretty easy, even with the loss last week by the Colts. If they beat the Jaguars this weekend, Indy will be in the playoffs, and will be DANGEROUS.
Is there any way that Jacksonville wins this game? I mean, if the Jags went out and blew the top pick for the second year running by beating Indy, I would have to seriously question what that organization is doing. The Colts will win this big.
Green Bay has clinched the division, the top seed, and favorite role in the NFC. That means you are most likely not going to see anybody of value on the field.
Detroit still has a chance to pick up the first pick, but at worst will be picking second in the draft. A win here would still see the Lions pick second, and might be of more value. To be honest, there is no quarterback available this high anyway until 2023.
This is a draft order game, and for Giants’ fans, hopefully the last game in charge for the majority of the front office (you should have hired Marc Ross as GM) and coaching staff.
Please watch this video from Dan Orlovsky absolutely RIPPING Joe Judge: he uses the phrase “Timmy Tough Nuts”, and I wish I had heard it so much sooner in my life.
Washington SHOULD be back next year, if the Football Team gets players back and finally picks a name. If this team can get a QB in, they could be dangerous.
Tennessee HAS to win this game to get home field advantage in the playoffs, and if it does, Mike Vrabel HAS to get Coach of the Year. His team has been missing Derek Henry, who was on the way to an MVP season, and still may (will) go 12-5 in a tough AFC.
For a team that started 1-8 and lost 11 of 12 games, Houston has not been the worst team in the NFL. Yes two of its wins were against the Jags, but the Texans also beat Tennessee and the Chargers, and have been in a lot of games. Houston will get the third pick with a loss, and might get more if they trade Watson.
All of a sudden, the Bears have a chance to get to seven wins, in a season they might have won four, and probably should have been more competitive in a lot more.
Minnesota has been disappointing, but has only itself to blame for missing the playoffs. The Vikings have two killer losses: at home to the Browns early in the season and on the road late to the Lions. But they also have one truly impressive win all season (Green Bay, 34-31), and really do not deserve to be in the playoffs. Both of these teams are stuck in purgatory, unless Green Bay loses Aaron Rodgers, then they might have a chance in 2022 if they get better.
Oh, btw, DO NOT BET THIS GAME.
The Saints need this game to make the playoffs, and could be bolstered if the Rams jump out to an early lead against San Fran. But New Orleans needs to take care of business in its own game, and that might be tough against the Falcons.
Atlanta has not been bad (not great either), but like the Vikings, has two bad losses that really tanked the season. Kyle Pitts is a SUPERSTAR, though, and this is another team that could be on the rise with the right offseason moves. This is not going to be an easy game to handicap.
Would it be too simplistic if I just wrote Bills by 30?
The line on this is already -17 on Monday, and might be -20 by Sunday. There is NO WAY this game is close, right? Buffalo had its wobble for a little while, and beat the Jets 45-17 in the first game.
That score looks about right here.
Miami won seven games in a row to get into playoff contention, then did not show up when it needed to the most against a good Tennessee team. Yes, the run was fools’ gold, against a lot of bad teams.
New England needs this game to at least TRY to put some pressure on the Bills, but if it is 30-0 in Buffalo in the second quarter, we could see Bill Belichick rest some players for the rest of the game. I would pass on this game, or maybe just bet the Pats in the first half.
Stunned this game was not moved to Saturday night, but the NFL most likely (definitely) wanted one of the late window games to be decent, so here we are.
San Francisco NEEDS to win this game, but so do the Rams: there is a huge difference getting the two seed and playing at home until the NFC Championship game (unless the Packers lose, then the Rams would host the NFC final) and getting the fifth seed and having to go on the road for three weeks until the Super Bowl, which is going to be in their home stadium (hmmm, I have heard that somewhere).
The Rams are going to be a near TD favorite in this contest, but have not played well of late. This is a tough game to call.
Arizona stopped the rot last week, in a huge 25-22 win over the Cowboys. Even if the Cards do not win the NFC West and finish 12-5 as the Wild Card, they know they can go into Dallas and win.
The Seahawks got a huge win in what might be (it will be) Russell Wilson’s last home game in Seattle, and now they can go out in style against the Cards on the road. Wilson will have a big game, that is for sure. I might take the over here.
The Bucs are the strangest 12-4 team in NFL history, and might get to 13-4 with a win over the hapless Panthers. Antonio Brown bounced in the middle of the game but I am not down with the hate; I thought Tom Brady’s comment was spot on, because Brown needs support, and there is way too much Timmy Tough Nuts stuff on social media from people who have never played the game at this level and taken the beating these players do. But besides that, the Bucs are banged up going into the playoffs.
But they have Brady, and the Panthers do not have any viable quarterbacks. Tampa might play no one though, and that should mean this game is tough to take.
I am very excited for this game. I have said this for the better part of 18 weeks, but the NFL schedule maker has been fantastic all year, and this one could be the best of the bunch.
To set the scene, by the time these two teams kick off, this should (will) be for the final AFC playoff spot, which could mean a matchup with the Chiefs in the Wild Card round. Lots of AFC West action for us all.
I think we could see a big number here.
Read more about this game in our Sunday Night Football Best Bets & Odds guide.
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