Week 18, the final week of the 2021 NFL season, is here at last! As you might expect, there are a ton of great games—both in terms of matchups and playoff importance. We’ve got divisional clashes between the Cowboys and Eagles, and 49ers and Rams. We’ve got a win-and-in game on Sunday Night Football between the Chargers and the Raiders. This is going to be a good weekend, folks.
Speaking of good weekends, I matched my season-high record with another 12-4 finish in Week 17. That brings my season total to a quite nice 95-63-1. Considering my...shaky belated start to the season, I’m impressed that I’ve managed to rebound so strongly. With an above .500 record guaranteed, it’s time to take some risks on a few spicy games this week. Read on for my picks and predictions for Week 18’s games!
Saturday Afternoon: Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at Denver Broncos (7-9)
The pick: Chiefs (-525)
Spread: Chiefs -10.5 | Over/Under: 45 | Moneyline: Chiefs -525, Broncos +385
This late-season divisional matchup has lost a bit of its luster with the Broncos officially eliminated from playoff contention, but it’s always fun to watch the Chiefs play. Kansas City is still in contention for the top seed and the first-round bye, so I expect them to come out guns blazing against Denver.
Saturday Night Football: Dallas Cowboys (11-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
The pick: Cowboys (-190)
Spread: Cowboys -4 | Over/Under: 43 | Moneyline: Cowboys -190, Eagles +160
While the Eagles were among the dregs of the NFL early in the year, they’ve rebounded well and are now positioned to make the playoffs with a win against Dallas. That’s going to be a tough task, as the Cowboys are unlikely to rest any starters this week as they jockey for a home playoff game. While Dallas has had some lapses and Philadelphia has more to play for, I think the Cowboys still end up winning this one.
Green Bay Packers (13-3) at Detroit Lions (2-13-1)
The pick: Packers (-180)
Spread: Packers -3.5 | Over/Under: 45 | Moneyline: Packers -180, Lions +155
This one is slightly more interesting because there’s a lot of speculation about how much Green Bay’s starters will play. The Packers have already locked up the top seed and first-round bye, but are reportedly planning to play their starters for at least some of the game. Even a quarter (or half) of the Packers starters is probably enough to get them the win against a game-but-undermanned Lions team.
Indianapolis Colts (9-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)
The pick: Colts (-1000)
Spread: Colts -15 | Over/Under: 44 | Moneyline: Colts -1000, Jaguars +650
The Colts inexplicably blew it against the Raiders last week, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’ll wipe the floor with a directionless Jaguars team on Sunday.
Washington Football Team (6-10) at New York Giants (4-12)
The pick: WFT (-300)
Spread: WFT -7 | Over/Under: 37.5 | Moneyline: WFT -300, Giants +235
While the WFT has been far from inspiring this season, they’ve at least been spicy at times with Taylor Heinicke at the helm. The same can’t be said for the Giants, who will now be starting Jake Fromm at QB after backup Mike Glennon—who was very, very bad to begin with—had season-ending surgery this week. Things have gone from bad to worse for the Giants, and Washington will be able to get one last win this season.
Chicago Bears (6-10) at Minnesota Vikings (7-9)
The pick: Vikings (-240)
Spread: Vikings -5.5 | Over/Under: 44 | Moneyline: Vikings -240, Bears +195
My foolproof method of predicting the Vikings has worked like a charm over the past three weeks. The pattern is inescapable, and my prophecy has come true:
Since Week 5, the Vikings have repeated the W-W, L-L pattern twice and are now in the next set with the win against Pittsburgh. Clearly, they will win [against the Bears in Week 15]—reigniting hope in the fanbase of making the playoffs—before promptly losing the next two to the Rams and Packers and falling out contention entirely.
Now we’ve come full circle, and the Vikings are once again on the winning side of the pattern. Unfortunately for Chicago, you can’t fight destiny.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) at Cleveland Browns (7-9)
The pick: Browns (-265)
Spread: Browns -6 | Over/Under: 38 | Moneyline: Browns -265, Bengals +215
The Bengals proved themselves to the world last week by defeating the Chiefs to clinch the AFC North, and have now earned a week of rest for their key starters. That means the Browns have a very good chance to close out the season with a win against Cincinnati’s backup QB.
Tennessee Titans (11-5) at Houston Texans (4-12)
The pick: Titans (-510)
Spread: Titans -10.5 | Over/Under: 42.5 | Moneyline: Titans -510, Texans +375
Despite a rash of injuries and a series of letdown games, the Titans have held strong and are now in an excellent position to claim the AFC’s top seed and a first-round bye. The only thing standing in their way is a Texans team that really shouldn’t be a challenge to defeat. Houston did manage to pull off the upset back in Week 11, but I have a hard time believing it’ll happen again.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1) at Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
The pick: Ravens (-190)
Spread: Ravens -3.5 | Over/Under: 41 | Moneyline: Ravens -190, Steelers +160
While the Steelers technically have a chance to make the playoffs if both the Chargers and Colts lose this week, I really need the Ravens to make sure that doesn’t happen. Lamar Jackson is still out, but Tyler Huntley has proved himself as a capable backup. I think Baltimore finds a way to clinch a winning season in Week 18.
New Orleans Saints (8-8) at Atlanta Falcons (7-9)
The pick: Saints (-190)
Spread: Saints -3.5 | Over/Under: 39.5 | Moneyline: Saints -190, Falcons +160
The kiss of death failed last week, but I mostly blame the Panthers for that. I need it to work one last time—against the Falcons in Week 18. Atlanta has already shown they can beat New Orleans on the road, now they just have to do it at home. However, the Saints going to Taysom Hill probably hurts the Falcons, who have struggled mightily against running quarterbacks.
New York Jets (4-12) at Buffalo Bills (10-6)
The pick: Bills (-1375)
Spread: Bills -16.5 | Over/Under: 40.5 | Moneyline: Bills -1375, Jets +800
The Bills are one win against the lowly Jets from clinching the AFC East, and I don’t think there’s much that New York can do to stop them.
San Francisco 49ers (9-7) at Los Angeles Rams (12-4)
The pick: 49ers (+175)
Spread: Rams -4.5 | Over/Under: 44.5 | Moneyline: Rams -210, 49ers +175
A very important divisional matchup awaits, as the 49ers and Rams clash for the second time. San Francisco needs a win to assure their place in the playoffs—a loss means they have a chance of falling out should the Saints and Eagles both win. The 49ers have already shown they know how to beat Los Angeles, and I think they’ve got more to play for.
Carolina Panthers (5-11) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4)
The pick: Bucs (-380)
Spread: Bucs -8 | Over/Under: 41.5 | Moneyline: Bucs -380, Panthers +290
The Buccaneers have lost a lot of pieces at wide receiver with Chris Godwin’s season-ending injury and Antonio Brown...departing. How that affects their playoff run is yet to be seen. I don’t believe it will affect their ability to blow through the Panthers on Sunday.
New England Patriots (10-6) at Miami Dolphins (8-8)
The pick: Patriots (-280)
Spread: Patriots -6.5 | Over/Under: 39.5 | Moneyline: Patriots -280, Dolphins +225
This one lost all of it’s luster with the Dolphins loss to the Titans in Week 17, which officially eliminated them from the playoffs. Now the Patriots are the only team with something to play for in this one, and it’s tough to pull off an upset against a very good team when you’ve got nothing to fight for but pride. The Patriots get it done.
Seattle Seahawks (6-10) at Arizona Cardinals (11-5)
The pick: Cardinals (-265)
Spread: Cardinals -6.5 | Over/Under: 48 | Moneyline: Cardinals -265, Seahawks +215
The Cardinals surprised me with their strong play and upset victory over the Cowboys last week. I want to like Arizona, they just keep making it difficult. However, they’ve still got a chance for a home playoff game if they get the win against Seattle. The Seahawks aren’t as bad as they were without Wilson, but they aren’t good enough to legitimately challenge quality teams. Arizona takes care of business.
Sunday Night Football: Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) at Las Vegas Raiders (9-7)
The pick: Chargers (-155)
Spread: Chargers -3 | Over/Under: 49 | Moneyline: Chargers -155, Raiders +135
The Raiders simply will not go down—it’s honestly admirable, considering how their season has gone. Now they face the Chargers in a win-and-in scenario for both teams. This could be an excellent game between two spicy-but-inconsistent teams. I’ve got a soft spot for the Chargers, and believe they’re the better team, so I’m sticking with Los Angeles.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.