My NFL picks this week are building on a solid second half record, with seven winning weeks out of nine (78%). Playoffs are on the line for seven teams, but only three will make the cut. Check out their odds to make the playoffs, then and now, along with trends that can help you win!
The Indianapolis Colts are one of seven teams vying for a playoff spot, and Indy controls its own destiny
NFL Picks to Make the Playoffs
Bookmakers also posted odds on whether or not certain teams would make the NFL playoffs. If you had a crystal ball then, you’d be lining up a first class ticket to Hedgeville in Week 18, as the odds have changed dramatically!
Seven teams this weekend are vying for three playoff spots, five from the AFC and two more from the NFC. I’ve noted each team’s preseason odds to make the postseason, along with some juicy nuggets for bettors to chomp on.
My NFL picks this week will be ready on Friday, and I’ve posted seven winning weeks out of the past nine (78%). Give yourself the best chance to win with Week 18 NFL picks from an expert sports handicapper!
AFC Battle Royale: NFL Picks Sunday
The Bills (10-6) and Patriots (10-6) are still fighting for the division, but each has assured itself a playoff berth. They are both faves this week, with Buffalo on the inside lane at home vs. the Jets. A straight up win, and the Bills claim the East for a second-straight year.
KC (11-5), Tennessee (11-5) and Cinci (10-6) are also in, leaving five teams fighting for scraps. Each of those five teams’ preseason odds to make the playoffs is noted (POMP).
Indianapolis (9-7) at Jacksonville (2-14)
Line: Colts -15.5 and O/U 44
POMP: Colts (Y -120 / N even money)
Moneyline odds on Jacksonville to win are listed at +700. In the sports betting rule book on ‘How to Hedge a Bet’ there is a picture of the Colts -120 next to Jacksonville +700. It’s a multiple choice with three payback options, and all of them are great. If you get the wrong answer, you close the book and never wager again.
- Weak teams that allowed 40-plus points last week are 89-46 ATS (66%) when they are being outscored by more than 10.0 PPG on the year.
The Jags’ scoring margin is -13.7 which is dead last in the league. Jacksonville owns a 24-15 ATS record vs. the Colts and this series has produced some wildly entertaining games. Colts RB Jonathan Taylor ripped the Jags for 253 yards on 30 carries in last year’s finale, so you might want to check out the prop shop at your online sportsbook.
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Pittsburgh (8-7-1) at Baltimore (8-8)
Line: Ravens -5.5 and O/U 41.5
POMP: Steelers (Y +160 / N -200), Ravens (Y -300 / N +240)
Big Ben completed 24 of 46 pass attempts in Monday’s Memory Bowl, or 2.67 yards per attempt. That’s the second-lowest average all-time, just behind Jesse Palmer (Giants) in 2003 (2.56 YPPA). He’ll have nothing left for the Ravens, but he does have Najee Harris, whose 1,172 rushing yards is #4 overall.
Pittsburgh also has TJ Watt (21.5) on the attack, chasing down Michael Strahan’s (22.5) NFL record sack-lead since the stat became official.
- The Steelers are 31-16 UNDER (66%) when facing a soft passing D that allows more than 7.5 yards per attempt, and Baltimore ranks #32 in the league at 7.8 YPPA allowed.
Yes, the Ravens allow more yards per pass attempt than the Jets, Lions, Jags and Texans!
Everything about this game is screaming UNDER except for the fact that it’s win or go home. The fourth quarter of this game could be a wild one with John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin digging deep into their bag of tricks. In all likelihood, the Colts will win straight up and neither one of these teams gets a ticket to the dance.
Sunday Night Showdown
Of the nine NFL teams listed as road favorites this weekend, the Chargers are the only one led by a rookie head coach. So not only is Brandon Staley green as Nevada’s legalized weed, he’s laying road chalk in a divisional, primetime, must-win game. The Raiders are also now playing this season for John Madden.
Did I miss anything?
Los Angeles (9-7) at Las Vegas (9-7)
Line: Chargers -3 and O/U 49.5
POMP: Bolts (Y +110 / N -130), Raiders (Y +350 / N -450)
LA’s four road wins this season were impressive. They took down two non-conference foes in the East by margins of 3 and 4 points. In Week 3, they got past the Chiefs 30-24. Then in Week 13, Los Angeles blasted the Bengals 41-22, a win made even more impressive by what Cinci has done since.
- The Chargers own a 21-8 ATS (72%) record vs. the Raiders in the past 29 meetings.
- After scoring 25-plus points in four-straight games, road teams that allow more than 24 PPG on average are just 4-22 ATS (15%) when the betting line is within +/-3 points of Pick `em.
My NFL computer prediction for this game leans to the road side, but it’s a very close margin. Consensus betting on this game is equally tight. After everything the Raiders have gone through this season, it’s amazing they’re still in this position but the winner of this game will punch a ticket to the playoffs. How sweet is that for a Sunday nighter?!?
Top Week 18 NFL Betting Trends from the NFC
New Orleans and San Francisco are kicking off their respective games at 4:25 pm ET and if the Niners win or tie, they’re in. A New Orleans loss will also catapult San Fran into the promised land, but the Saints know that the Rams are bringing their A-game. A win for Los Angeles locks up the NFC West title, the No. 2 seed, and a much better opening round matchup.
New Orleans (8-8) at Atlanta (7-9)
Line: Saints -4.5 and O/U 40
POMP: Saints (Y +110 / N -130)
- The Saints have played UNDER in 6-straight and they also have a streak of 7-straight UNDERS in the month of January, dating back to Jan. 13, 2019.
- On average, the Saints stayed south of the total by -8.6 PPG during this current January-UNDER streak.
San Francisco (9-7) at Los Angeles (12-4)
Line: Rams -4.5 and O/U 44.5
POMP: 49ers (Y -200 / N +165)
The Rams will win a tie-breaker over Tampa Bay for the No. 2 seed, and the Bucs are hosting Carolina earlier.
- In a game between two high-caliber offenses, road dogs are 32-10 ATS (76%) during the second half of the season following a game where they outgained their opponent by 100-plus yards.
- Teams that won straight up last week but failed to cover (Rams), are 47-10 OVER (76%) vs. teams coming off a home win.
This game between NFC West rivals could be electric, in spite of a current 5-game UNDER streak between these two. Check team totals and stay on top of the latest Week 18 NFL odds here.