NFL Week 18 Odds & Picks
John Lanfranca: Let me get this straight. The news of Mike White being out is worth 4.5 points to the spread? Bettors are so terrified of Zach Wilson starting at QB, they rushed to bet the Dolphins here; but good news, it’s Joe Flacco starting for the Jets, not Wilson.
In the three games Flacco started, the Jets offense ranked 16th in offensive DVOA. In the three games Tua Tagovailoa has missed, the Dolphins offense ranked 19th in the same category.
Skylar Thompson will get the start for Miami, and I am not sure he should be laying points against many teams. Thompson has averaged an inefficient 5.1 yards per attempt, with 4.3% of his throws deemed turnover worthy. He’ll also be without the services of Terron Armstead, the Pro-Bowl left tackle who has allowed only 15 pressures on 435 pass blocking snaps this season.
Points will be at a premium in this divisional battle, thus grabbing anything above a field goal is a tremendous value. I would still play this down to +3.
What is QuickSlip?
QuickSlip is an Action Network feature that allows users to automatically pre-load their bet slip at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Brandon Anderson: These are both deserving playoff teams, but the injury report went sideways at the wrong time. The NFL is a war of attrition, and the Jets and Dolphins lost.
A week ago, this looked like a marquee Week 18 postseason play-in. Instead, the Jets are already eliminated and the Dolphins are barely hanging on, and both teams will turn to third-string QBs as Joe Flacco and Skylar Thompson battle.
It’s not just the quarterbacks, though. Both offensive lines are in sorry shape. With Terron Armstead doubtful, it looks like we’ll be missing all four offensive tackles in this game.
Miami’s secondary is in shambles with Xavien Howard questionable and others missing, and key trade acquisition Bradley Chubb is a question mark as well. I figure some of these guys will give it a go in such a big game, but still, the Jets have a clear health advantage.
I love the bottom. How can you not like an under in a key January game in the weather with two third-string quarterbacks and no blocking? Besides, these teams have been mirror images of late.
You already know the Jets are all defense with a piecemeal offense, but the Dolphins profile the same over the past six weeks with an improving defense offsetting the faltering attack. The Jets are 11-5, and for all the hype surrounding Miami, the offense has been held to 21 or fewer in 10 of 16 games.
The Jets are the better team right now. Their defense is easily the best unit on the field, and even an ancient Flacco is a better option than Thompson, who got thrashed by these very Jets in his only other professional start.
Miami is at home and still alive for the playoffs, but that’s really the only reason this team is favored. I trust Robert Saleh’s guys to come out swinging, end the season on a high note and send the Dolphins packing.
I’ll lean Jets instead of betting, partly because I’ve already faded Miami’s playoffs, but you can bet this multiple ways. I like the under best, but you could bet Jets as well or play a SGP with both — or you can take maybe the safest combo play with the Dolphins team total under 20.5.
The Pick: Bet Under 37.5
Leans: Jets +3; Dolphins TT Under 20.5
Sam Farley: Hear me out. Yes, you are right, Garrett Wilson hasn’t scored since Week 12, but the key to this bet is Joe Flacco.
The former Raven is starting this game, with Zach Wilson serving as his backup. Flacco started the first three games of the season, and when you dig into the numbers from those contests, the stats clearly point towards a big role for Garrett Wilson.
In the games Flacco started with Garrett Wilson, the rookie wide receiver saw 33 total targets, with his lowest number in any game being eight. He only hauled in 18 of those attempts, but the volume was there.
At +260 I’ll be banking on Flacco and Wilson resuming where they left off.
Simon Hunter: I don’t always bet a rookie as a four-point favorite, but when I do, it’s the last week of the season. Let’s get weird, people.
Week 18 is all about chaos and madness. Unfortunately, with how many lines are moving, it’s hard to find a game that won’t move like crazy by the time you read this.
Back to this one, though, we know the deal: Tampa Bay is resting starters for the playoffs, even if Todd Bowles says they’re going to play. The Falcons, meanwhile, have nothing to play for, but aren’t going to change a thing. They’re going to give it a go and try to take down a rival division.
The Falcons just want to run the ball all game against a team that doesn’t want to be there. It’s too good to be true.
This line should be closer to Falcons -6. Luckily for us, the public has come in heavily on Tampa. The fact that we might get Blaine Gabbert or Kyle Trask is why this number should be -6.
Brady has carried this terrible Bucs squad all season. Take him out of the equation and this is a bottom-five team.
I love this number and I am hoping it drops by kickoff. I’d bet the Falcons to -5.
Brandon Anderson: I bet the Under 40.5 immediately when this line was posted after Pittsburgh’s Sunday night victory and wasn’t surprised when it dropped quickly to 38.5. It’s bounced back to the original total now and I still love the bottom.
You already know how good Pittsburgh’s defense has been since the return of TJ Watt. Watt and the Steel Curtain have made us a lot of money in the last couple of months. But the Browns defense has gotten really good too. They’re up to 6th in DVOA over the last six weeks, including top three against the pass.
Cleveland is also struggling offensively since switching to Deshaun Watson. The offense is scoring just 12.6 points per game with Watson, and the Browns rank below average both passing and rushing with their new QB under center. It’s hard to see them finding a fix against this great Steelers defense, but the Browns defense should hold Pittsburgh in check too and keep this one interesting.
Steelers games are at 41 or below in seven of the last eight, and all five Watson Browns games have gone under this number. Watson is 9-4 to the lifetime under with a total under 44, and Kevin Stefanski under 44 are 10-4. This game also fits some late-season division under trends.
I wanted to keep riding Pittsburgh as a side here, but there are all sorts of red flags backing Cleveland. The Browns fit that Week 17 trend from the top better than any other team since they just won last week. Late-season division underdogs on a one-game winning streak are also 48-18-1 ATS (73%), and underdogs in late-season AFC North division games are 42-23-1 ATS (65%). The Steelers are also 4-11 ATS (27%) after beating the Ravens under Mike Tomlin, so this is a letdown spot even with the playoffs on the line.
I do like the matchup for Pittsburgh. Cleveland’s defense is great against the pass but still beatable on the ground, and the Steelers are running well, while Pittsburgh’s defensive strength in the run game matches up better.
Still, at +3, I have to lean Browns given all the trends red flagging Pittsburgh. I’ll skip a side and just ride the Under 40.5.
Sam Farley: This isn’t a sentence I was expecting to write in Week 18, but my best bet for Texans at Colts is Sam Ehlinger to score a touchdown at +500.
The rookie didn’t look great in his two starts for the Colts earlier in the season, but he still rushed 11 times. He was looking to use his legs, just like he did during his collegiate career at the University of Texas, where he had 33 rushing TDs.
Now, he faces the worst defense in the NFL when it comes to stopping the run. He’s also without the team’s best rushing threat (Jonathan Taylor) so there’ll be opportunities for him to use his legs and make plays.
Ehlinger will believe that he’s fighting for the chance to be a starter next year — at +500 I think he’s a great price to score here.
Brandon Anderson: The Bengals are arguably the biggest losers from the decision to cancel Monday night’s game. They can no longer win the 1-seed — although they needed help anyway — and are apparently incensed that a loss here would leave them flipping a coin to determine who would host a rematch in next week’s playoff.
The line suggests there will be no coin flip.
The Bengals are huge favorites. They’re the far healthier team now that their edge rushers are playing again.
Baltimore is still missing Lamar Jackson, and it is not even a certainty that Tyler Huntley will play. He’s listed as questionable, and if there’s concern about Jackson’s availability next week, then it might make sense to rest Huntley now. Other key names like Marcus Peters, Calais Campbell and Desean Jackson are also questionable.
The Bengals are the far better team with Jackson sidelined. Baltimore’s offense just hasn’t been good, and the passing defense remains very beatable. Joe Burrow has been good in the cold at 5-1 ATS and should be able to do enough to secure a win.
But we have to play the numbers. Huntley has featured prominently in 10 NFL games over his career. All but one of them covered this spread, the lone miss by half-point, and eight of the 10 games finished within a field goal.
John Harbaugh is 5-1 ATS as an underdog of at least 9.5 points, with all but one of those games finishing within one score. Harbaugh knows how to slow the game down, ugly it up, and give his guys a chance.
If you like the Bengals, you may want to play just the second half. Cincinnati has covered 21 of its last 24 second halves, and Baltimore has been excellent in the first half under Harbaugh. Such a high line pushes me towards Baltimore, and if you think the Ravens keep it close, the under 40 looks good. Ravens under are 12-4 this year, while Bengals under are 10-5.
Remember, this was an emotional, exhausting week for Cincinnati. It’s possible the Ravens punt this game and wait for next week, but if they try, I think they can keep it close and give themselves a shot.
What chance would you give Baltimore to win outright? The Ravens are +350 on the moneyline, implying 22% to win. But if the Ravens do win, the Chargers (+138) will quickly become late-afternoon favorites in Denver.
LA is the healthier and better team, but right now, that line expects the Bolts to rest since a Ravens loss locks up the 5-seed for the Chargers and a far better first-round matchup.
We can play a Ravens-Chargers ML parlay at +970 at FanDuel, an implied 9.3%. Baltimore certainly has a better chance to win than that, and a Ravens win triggers great value on the Chargers later. That’s the best angle here.
Sam Farley: Big things were expected of Dawson Knox this year, but he never really broke out like everyone hoped. That said, much like last season when he suddenly came to the fore at the business end of the season, cometh the man, cometh the hour.
You can grab +230 on Dawson Knox to find the end zone, which is incredible value. He’s scored in each of the past three weeks and was targeted 20 times combined in those games — not bad considering he’s only been targeted 63 times all season.
Combine that with the fact he’s facing a Patriots defense, that, while very good, has a weak spot. They’ve given up 10 touchdowns to tight ends, and you can see why that +230 looks like a big price.