The NFL regular season is coming to an end, and Week 18 will bring a lot of drama. We have some clarity with so many teams benching starters. In this article, we will talk about some of the major players that are out this week and, of course, my NFL Picks for Week 18!
Also, I’ll be looking at some important player incentives that might help you with your decisions this weekend. Of course, there are some win-and-in games that are essentially playoff games. Those will be fun, and we will look at where the public is betting before making our bets.
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NFL Picks Week 18: Public Betting Trends and Player Contract Incentives
Teams Resting Starters or Starting Quarterbacks
- Baltimore Ravens – Inactive: Lamar Jackson and Odell Beckham Jr.
- Cleveland Browns – Inactive: Joe Flacco
- Kansas City Chiefs – Inactive: Patrick Mahomes
- Los Angeles Rams – Inactive: Matthew Stafford, Kyren Williams, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee
- San Francisco 49ers – Inactive: Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey
- Nelson Agholor 58 rec yds for 250K
- Dalton Schultz 4 rec for 250K / 6 rec for 500K
- Devin Singletary 73 scrimmage yards for 250K or $150K for 74 total scrimmage yards
- DeAndre Hopkins 49 rec yds for 1M / 7 rec for 250K
- Austin Ekeler 110 total yds for 100K
- Adam Trautman TD for 100K
- Geno Smith gets $2M if Seattle Makes the Playoffs
- Tyreek Hill needs 248 to set the receiving yards record
- Chris Jones .5 Sacks for 1.25M
- Jordan Love earn $500k if the Packers win and make the playoffs, $500k for each playoff win
- Lavonte David .5 sacks for $150K
- Devin Singletary 165 yards for $150K
- Jadaveon Clowney .5 sacks gets $750K
- Alexander Mattison 124 yards for $650K or $150K for 74 rushing yards
- Calais Campbell gets 2.5 sacks for $500K
- Bud Dupree 1.5 sacks for $1M
Pittsburgh Steelers (-4) at Baltimore Ravens
Steelers Moneyline -194
Ravens Moneyline +161
O/U 35 -110
Baltimore clinched the #1 seed in the AFC, so Lamar Jackson is out this week, and so is Odell Beckham Jr. Odell is busy purchasing another yacht and jinxing Baltimore. It will be Tyler Huntley vs. Mason Rudolph. Huntley is 3-5 in his starts, and Rudolph is 7-4-1 in his.
The concern with Jackson not playing is how many more Ravens will sit or not finish the game. Right now, the public is betting on the Ravens to cover 66% of the time. Moneyline betters like the Steelers 57% of the time.
Baltimore has some injured players, also missing the game will be Kevin Zeitler, Marlon Humphrey, Malik Harrison, and Daryl Worley. Zay Flowers is also doubtful with a calf injury. Kyle Hamilton missed last week and is likely to miss this week with four Ravens’ corner backs questionable. Pittsburgh can still make the playoffs, but it is a long shot (29%).
Pittsburgh Steelers Playoff Scenarios
- Steelers win against Ravens, AND Bills lose to Dolphins OR
- Steelers win against Ravens, AND Jaguars lose or tie against Titans OR
- Steelers win against Ravens, AND Texans and Colts tie OR
- Steelers tie against Ravens AND Jaguars lose to Titans, AND Texans and Colts do not tie
- Jaguars lose to Titans AND Broncos win against Raiders, AND Texans and Colts do not tie
My Picks: Pittsburgh Steelers -4 / Over 35
The public is taking the under 77% of the time, and I have more faith in the backup QBs. Steelers are averaging 32 points alone with Rudolph, and Baltimore is missing half of their starters.
The Ravens are more concerned with staying healthy than keeping Pittsburgh out of the playoffs. Pittsburgh wins this one and covers. They have won two games in a row under Mason Rudolph, putting 30 and 34 points up.
Houston Texans (-1) at Indianapolis Colts
Texans Moneyline -110
Colts Moneyline +102
O/U 47.5 -110
Both teams are running out of room on the injury report, with several players on both sides being questionable. Indy has 10 players on the injury report to watch, and Houston has eight. Houston has already ruled out Noah Brown and Jonathan Greenard. Both of these teams deserve a lot of credit for how much they have improved this year.
They owned the 2nd and 4th worst records in the league last year. If Stroud doesn’t get hurt, the Texans might be in the playoff discussion. The Colts still have a shot at making the playoffs.
Indianapolis Colts Playoff Scenarios
- Colts Loss would mean they are DONE for the season
- Colts Win would mean they are IN
- Colts Tie would mean they are IN, only if BOTH Pittsburgh and Jacksonville LOSE
The public likes Houston a lot! Right now, 86% of public bets are taking Houston to cover the measly one-point spread. The Colts moneyline is only receiving 22% of public bets right now, and 51% of public bets are on the under at 47.5.
Houston does not own their first-round pick next year, and this does not look like a team trying to tank. They beat the Titans 26-3 last weekend. Knocking their rivals out of the playoff hunt would be a nice way to end their season.
My Picks: Houston Texans Moneyline / Over 47.5
Indianapolis found something with this coaching staff, and they have been playing well with Gardner Minshew. But the injuries are really piling up. Including their offensive line captain Ryan Kelly.
The Colts have been a great Cinderella story this year, but C.J. Stroud is just too good. Stroud and Houston play spoiler and send Indianapolis packing. Give me the over in this one, these teams rank high in passing attempts, pace of play, and points scored.
Sunday at 1 PM EST
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3.5) at Tennessee Titans
Jaguars Moneyline -192
Titans Moneyline +160
O/U 41 -110
Jacksonville Jaguars Playoff Scenarios
- Win and IN, a win gives them the AFC South Title
- They win the AFC South and are IN with a TIE between Indianapolis and Houston
- They are IN, if they tie AND a Pittsburgh loss or tie OR a Pittsburgh loss and a Denver loss or tie
Jacksonville will know their fates going into the game, with Indianapolis playing on Saturday. The Tennessee Titans are out of the playoff hunt, and this could be a send-off for Derrick Henry.
Jacksonville’s defense played well last week, shutting out the Carolina Panthers. They had six sacks last week, and their defense continues to improve. They have a massive advantage against this Tennessee offensive line.
Jacksonville won last week without Trevor Lawrence, who got some much-needed rest. Lawrence is expected to play this weekend, who tore up Tennessee earlier this season.
Evan Engram and Calvin Ridley had big games in their last game vs. Tennessee. Travis Etienne had a monster week last week, and Tennessee gave up 5.0 yards per carry to Devin Singletary.
My Picks: Jacksonville -3.5 / Under 41
Tennessee is a really bad team, and the only incentive in this one is to knock the Jaguars out. This game happens after the Colts game, and they may not even have that pleasure.
Tennessee has not shown up all season. No reason to expect them to finally put it together. Will Levis is practicing and might play this weekend, but I don’t think it matters. Jacksonville somehow sneaks their way into the playoffs with a win, covering, but give me the under.
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-3)
Saints Moneyline -171
Falcons Moneyline +143
O/U 42 -110
Both teams have a chance at making the playoffs, but both are considered to be long shots. They are both cheering for Carolina to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Not something that we would bet on, pun intended.
Atlanta is coming off of an embarrassing loss to Chicago that had delusional Bears fans chanting, “We Want Fields.” Arthur Smith deserves to be fired, but he has not been, and a win this week and a Buccaneers loss would put them in the playoffs.
Atlanta Falcons Playoff Scenarios
- Win, and Tampa Bay Win means they are OUT
- Tie, and Tampa Bay Win or TIE means they are OUT
- Win, and Tampa Bay Loss means they are IN (both finish 8-9, but Atlanta would have a better divisional record)
New Orleans Saints Playoff Scenarios
- Lose, and they are OUT
- Win and Tampa Bay loss or tie, they are in and the #4 seed in the NFC
- Saints can earn a wild card with a Win + Seattle loss or tie + Green Bay loss or tie OR
- New Orleans tie + Seattle loss + Green Bay loss
Right now, 53% of the public is betting on the Atlanta Falcons to cover. The moneyline bets are going toward the Saints 68% of the time. Another playoff type of atmosphere, the public likes the over 42.5 at a rate of 67%.
The last time they played they combined for 39 points. Atlanta has scored an average of 21 points in their last three contests. New Orleans is averaging 23 points during that same span.
My Picks: New Orleans Saints -3 / Under 42
Both of these teams are slow in pace of play and are low pass volume teams. Neither is known for the big play of giving up the big play.
I know Atlanta got trounced last week, but both teams are in the top 9 in points allowed per game. Atlanta is 9th, allowing 20.3, and New Orleans is 6th, allowing only 19.4 points per game. Give me the under and give me the beads. Bourbon Street will be bustling this weekend.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (-3.5)
Vikings Moneyline +156
Lions Moneyline -186
O/U 45.5 -110
The Detroit Lions will absolutely not be tanking. We saw them knock out the Packers last year. They had no incentive other than just knocking out the Packers, and they played hard. They will play hard again this weekend, and the Vikings almost beat them two weeks ago, 30-24.
Minnesota likely starts Nick Mullens, who they picked off four times but passed for 411 yards! Detroit has clinched a playoff birth, but they do have an incentive to play this week.
Minnesota Vikings Playoff Scenarios
- Minnesota LOSS means they are OUT
- Minnesota WIN means they are IN IF Seattle loses AND Green Bay loses, and Atlanta wins, OR Carolina wins
Detroit Lions Playoff Scenario
- #2 seed if they WIN and Dallas AND Philadelphia BOTH lose
The public is betting on Minnesota to cover 62% of the time. They moneyline bets are going to the motor city 81% of the time. The public is expecting some points to be scored here, and I can’t blame them. Both of these offenses have a high pace of play and are amongst the league leaders in points scored.
This is an indoor game, and I am expecting a lot of points. Great game to head over to our partners at Underdog and play some pick ’ems.
My Picks: Detroit Lions -3.5 / Over 45.5
Expect a big game for Jared Goff. Minnesota is 25th, allowing a 93.6 passer rating, and 32nd in completion percentage. Detroit needs to make a statement, and they do it this week, putting their paws on the Vikings’ throats.
It would be a big win for Detroit as they would take out their frustrations on the Zebras on the Minnesota Vikings. This game will go over as both teams are throwing the ball everywhere indoors.
New York Jets at New England Patriots (-1.5)
Jets Moneyline +108
Patriots Moneyline -128
This might be the most unwatchable game on the slate this week. Both teams are eliminated from the playoffs, and both teams stink. The offseasons for both teams will be far more interesting than this one.
Both teams could improve their draft position with a loss, I don’t see either coaches tanking here. But neither team has been able to win even when they tried for most of the season.
Right now, Vegas and the public like New England to win this one. 71% of public bets are on the favorite to cover. The moneyline betters are taking New England 80% of the time.
As of now, the total is set at a lowly 30.5, and betters are still taking the under 71% of the time. These offenses are historically bad, and both of these teams can’t wait to get to the offseason. Their seasons have been incredibly frustrating.
My Picks: New England Patriots -1.5 / Under 30.5
This could be it for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. I expect him to do everything in his power to win this one. New York has been eliminated from the playoffs, and since then, their defense has allowed 28 points to Washington and 37 points to Cleveland. They look like they are planning vacations.
Their offense actually has woke up, scoring 48 points in the last two weeks with Trevor Siemian. I am betting on Belichick to win this one at home. Dropping New England out of the top 5 draft spots as a going-away present.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4.5) at Carolina Panthers
Panthers Moneyline +198
Buccaneers Moneyline -225
The safest bet in football this year has been betting against Carolina. I forgot to place a bet on their owner throwing a drink at a fan. What were the odds on that? Tampa Bay controls their destiny, and they could not have asked for a better opponent.
Carolina is a mess, and they have already started their offseason by firing half the coaches. Tampa Bay is looking to win their division for a third straight season.
The public likes the over in this one, with 71% taking the over so far this week. Right now, 77% of the moneyline bets are on Tampa Bay, but Carolina covering is a popular pick. Bets are going towards Carolina, covering 58% of the time with the 4.5-point spread. Carolina is 4-10-2 against the spread this season. Tampa Bay is 10-6 against the spread this year.
My Picks: Tampa Bay -4.5 / Over
Baker Mayfield revenge game? Look for Tampa Bay to assert themselves this weekend and punch their ticket to the playoffs. This defense will overwhelm Carolina and make things much easier for their offense.
Tampa Bay’s offense has been cooking this season with Baker Mayfield and hot head coaching candidate Dave Cannales. Look for them to put up 30 points on their way to the playoffs.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-7)
Browns Moneyline +247
Bengals Moneyline -309
The Cleveland Browns are heading to the playoffs with Joe Flacco at quarterback. Cleveland has clinched the #5 seed in the AFC. That is not something that any of us saw coming, but here we are.
The Bengals are out, which is not something we expected, either. Cleveland is resting some of their starters. No Flacco or Amari Cooper. Jake Browning is playing for a future contract, but the Bengals could likely sit some of their stars as well.
I would watch the injury report on this one. We could see a lot of backups play. I am a little nervous about this one and might play it safe and sit this one out. But if you are betting on this one, I am taking the Bengals.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson is expected to start, and a pre-season-style starting lineup will be trotted out for Cleveland. A Bengals win would put them at .500, and Trey Hendrickson is looking to fight for the NFL sack crown.
My Picks: Bengals Moneyline / Under 38
This is basically a preseason game, I am taking the under and so is 85% of the public. Cleveland’s moneyline is getting 52% of the bets at plus odds. Right now, 54% of bets are taking Cleveland to cover the seven-point spread.
I have Cincinnati winning this one. Jake Browning actually has something to play for. I will spot Cleveland the points since they are playing the second string. But I am taking the under in this one.
Sunday at 4:25 PM EST
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-3)
Bears Moneyline +135
Packers Moneyline – 161
The Chicago Bears fans were chanting, “We want Fields!” as they whooped Atlanta last week. This coaching staff and the players on the roster show zero signs of tanking.
Fields is playing for his NFL career, and so is this coaching staff. Look for the Bears to give it their all this weekend, they still have the #1 picked locked thanks to Carolina as well. No snow is scheduled for Green Bay, but a cold, windy 27-degree day in Lambeau is ahead of us.
Green Bay Packers Playoff Scenarios
- Win, and they are IN
- Loss and they are IN only if Vikings lose, Seahawks lose, AND Buccaneers or Saints lose
Right now, 75% of the public is taking the Bears to cover the three points. While 53% of the public is betting on Chicago’s moneyline. Their play last week has the public backing Chicago, but only 47% are taking the over in this one. Weather is a factor, but the last time these teams played, they scored a combined 58 points.
My Picks: Green Bay Packers -3 / Over 45
I am taking the Packers in this one and taking them to cover. Chicago looked great last week, but so did Green Bay. The Packers have looked good for the majority of the year, and they can go to the playoffs with a win.
This is a well-coached team, and they are playing well on both sides. The Packers are also getting healthy at just the right time. Chicago finishes their season with a loss, and we can start the Caleb Williams debates now!
Philadelphia Eagles (-5) at New York Giants
Eagles Moneyline -233
Giants Moneyline +190
The New York Giants nightmare season is almost over and their playoff hopes are dead. New York is currently drafting at #5 overall. They could potentially improve their draft position with a loss and a win by New England, Arizona, or Washington.
If they won, they could fall as far as pick 8 or 9. Philadelphia is worried more about playoff seeding. An Eagles win and a Cowboys loss would clinch the #2 seed.
So winning is important for Philadelphia. Right now, 64% of public bets are on the New York Giants to cover. Philadelphia is getting 59% of the moneyline bets right now.
The total is set at 42, and 71% of the public is taking the over in this one. Philadelphia smoked the Giants in all three of their games last year and beat New York 33 to 25 two weeks ago.
My Picks: Philadelphia Eagles -5 / Over 42
Philadelphia has had New York’s number for a long time now. In recent years, they have just been bullying the Giants. New York has nothing to play for, and Philadelphia does.
A higher seed would give them a home-field advantage for the majority of the playoffs. Look for Philadelphia to be ready to go and New York to be thinking about their New Year’s resolutions.
Seattle Seahawks (-3) at Arizona Cardinals
Seahawks Moneyline -147
Cardinals Moneyline +124
The Seattle Seahawks have had an up-and-down season. They were buyers at the trade deadline, sending a 2nd round pick to the Giants for Leonard Williams. But injuries and inconsistent play have them fighting for their playoff lives.
Arizona had zero expectations this season and has played fairly well under their new coaching staff, considering. They have also dealt with injuries, including no Kyler Murray for the first half of the year.
Seattle Seahawks Playoff Scenarios
- Seattle Seahawks Win and Green Bay Loses or ties, means they are IN
- Seattle Seahawks Tie AND Green Bay loses, AND Tampa Bay Loses or Ties
- Seattle Seahawks Tie AND Green Bay loses, AND New Orleans Loses or Ties
- Seattle Seahawks Lose, they are OUT
Arizona could play spoiler, if the Seahawks lose they are going home. This team has battled injuries all year, but they are starting to get healthy and play good football.
Seattle won a pivotal game against Philadelphia and then beat the Titans. Their loss to Pittsburgh last week hurt their chances, but it was a close game. Right now, 61% of the public is betting on Arizona to cover. The Seattle moneyline is getting 80% of the public’s money.
My Picks: Seattle Seahawks -3 / Over 47.5
The public likes the over at 75%, and so do I. This is a playoff game for Seattle and I look for them to be aggressive. Arizona has a good offense and can put up points too.
Give me the over, and give me Seattle in this one. They control their destiny, and this team is a winning organization. Geno and the boys make the playoffs and cover against Arizona.
Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders (-2.5)
Broncos Moneyline +132
Raiders Moneyline -157
Both teams were eliminated from the NFL playoffs last week. We will see Aiden O’Connell and Antonio Pierce trying to make a case to keep their jobs. Sean Payton isn’t letting Russ cook, instead he is putting him on ice. Stidham gets the start and we saw the Broncos last week with him.
They didn’t look good, and without the playoffs, expect an even less hungry team. The Raiders love Pierce, and I expect them to rally.
The public bets are going towards Las Vegas to cover 58% of the time. Denver’s moneyline is getting 52% of the bets. While the total is at 37, the public is taking the under 97% of the time.
The last time these teams played, we had Russell Wilson vs. Jimmy Garoppolo, and they scored only 33 points.
My Picks: Las Vegas Raiders -2.5 / Over 37
Las Vegas has been playing inspired under Antonio Pierce. Expect them to come fired up, and even if Josh Jacobs can’t go, Zamir has been fine. This offense has been much better, and this team has been much better.
Addition by subtracting Josh McDaniel. Pierce and the boys go in and cover easily against Denver. Give me the over as well. This is not the same Raiders team.
Dallas Cowboys (-13) at Washington Commanders
Cowboys Moneyline -881
Commanders Moneyline +558
This is the largest spread of the week and could be the biggest beatdown of the week as well. Dallas is rolling, even if there is a lot of controversy around it. Dallas has a lot of reasons to win, so they can get the #2 seed and have home-field advantage in the playoffs.
The Dallas Cowboys will be hosting a game in Week 1 in the playoffs, but a win could guarantee they don’t have to go to Philly. Washington’s coaching staff knows this is their last game. They have royally screwed up Sam Howell’s confidence. This team is a hot mess.
My Picks: Dallas Cowboys -13 / Over 47
Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb likely don’t have to play a full game to win by 30. Washington has had the league’s worst pass defense this year, and there are no signs of improvement.
Dallas’ offense has been red hot and they should be able to handle Washington. The Commanders’ offensive line has been an issue all year. Look for Dallas to dominate the trenches in this one. Their offense has been lost lately, Dallas, by a lot!
Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5)
Chiefs Moneyline +156
Chargers Moneyline -187
The Kansas City Chiefs have already clinched a playoff spot. They do not have much to play for, the other games really effect who the Chiefs will play. Right now, 77% of the public is betting on Kansas City to cover.
Only 60% are on the Kanas City moneyline. The over is getting only 43% of the bets right now. Kansas City is resting their key starters for this week. Los Angeles might still find a way to lose, but this could be another snooze fest.
My Picks: Los Angeles Chargers -3.5 / Under 35
Kansas City resting their starters while Los Angeles is already playing backups, give me the under in this one. Players like Austin Ekeler are playing for their NFL careers, so give me the Chargers in this one.
Kansas City gets some much-needed rest and time to prep for the playoffs. Los Angeles gets a win and tries to finish their season on a high note.
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (-4)
Rams Moneyline +167
49ers Moneyline -200
Both of these teams have locked up the playoffs, and they are benching a lot of starters. This is another preseason game that will likely have some surprise performances and a lot of unknowns.
Sam Darnold and Elijah Mitchell vs. Carson Wentz and Ronnie Rivers! San Francisco is still the favorite, and this could be a fun game just seeing Wentz vs. Darnold. But, as far as good football, I don’t know if we see that.
The public is taking the Rams to cover at 4.5, and after seeing their Inactive list, I’m not so sure about that. Los Angeles is getting 63% of the moneyline bets as well.
The total is set at 41, but the over is still getting 59% of the bets. There are not many trends to point to here with all of the changes in the rosters this week. With all of the unknowns, this one might be another to avoid.
My Picks: San Francisco moneyline / Under 41
I am taking San Francisco in this one, both teams are playing backups and San Francisco has a deeper roster. Look for the teams to run the ball a lot as they both look towards next week.
I am taking the under in this game and expecting this one to be over quickly. Both Wentz and Darnold have been known to be turnover-prone. We could see a defensive score in this one. I would probably bet on that and Elijah Mitchell’s rushing yards.
Sunday at 8:20 PM EST
Buffalo Bills (-2.5) at Miami Dolphins
Bills Moneyline -153
Dolphins Moneyline +128
The NFL got an awesome game for their night game. In Miami, we should have no weather issues and a tough division rivalry game with a playoff atmosphere.
Right now, Buffalo is the favorite, and the public is backing them to cover 55% of the time. Bills’ moneyline is getting 66% of the public’s bets. The last time they played, Buffalo beat Miami by the score 48-20. Miam got embarrassed and some say exposed, as they have struggled against teams above .500. Miami is already in, Let’s look at Buffalo’s playoff scenarios.
Buffalo Bills Playoff Scenarios
- Win at Miami clinches AFC East and #2 Seed in the AFC
- Tie Clinches a Playoff Spot
- Steelers loss/tie clinches a playoff spot
- Jaguars loss/tie clinches a playoff spot
- Texans-Colts tie clinches a playoff spot
- Buffalo ELIMINATED if they lose to Miami AND wins by BOTH Jaguars AND Steelers as long as the Colts-Texans do not tie
My Picks: Buffalo Bills -2.5 / Over 48.5
The Miami Dolphins have struggled in big games against playoff teams even going back to last year. This year has been no different and this team is banged up.
They have multiple injuries on defense including the losses of both Jaelen Phillips and Bradley Chubb. Buffalo is coming in at full strength, but they are in much better shape than Miami. The Bills beat up on Miami earlier this season, and they will do it again. Buffalo covers and give me the over!