Week 17 may have been one of the more normal weeks of the 2021 NFL season. There were five double-digit favorites, and while not all of them covered, none of them lost. The Buccaneers came close, but there were few upsets that were entirely unexpected. The Raiders, Cardinals and Bengals winning outright surprised some, but there weren’t any massive shocks to the NFL ecosystem as there have been in weeks past.
As such, NFL bettors were able to enter Week 18 without too many big losses. Now, they’ll have to navigate Week 18, one that is notorious for being among the most difficult to figure out.
While some NFL teams are still playing for playoff spots and seeding, most are playing for nothing but draft positioning. As a result, these teams could opt to sit their starters and evaluate their roster depth.
Even some of the division winners jockeying for seeding may sit their starters, especially in the NFC where the Packers have locked up the No. 1 seed. Why? Because the difference between the Nos. 2 and 4 seeds isn’t that significant and they’ll want to be healthy during the postseason.
Because of this,gamblers will have to keep an eye on the betting odds and lines to see if there is any line movement throughout the week. The point spreads will prove volatile as more news is revealed about which teams are and aren’t resting their normal starters, so don’t be afraid to bet favorable lines early in the week or use teasers to create even more favorable spreads.
Injuries will continue to matter for bettors as well. Many teams fighting for nothing will choose to be extra cautious in Week 18, as we’ve already seen with Baker Mayfield and the Browns.
For more expert NFL predictions, check out Sporting News’ picks straight up and against the spread for Week 18.
WEEK 18 PICKS: Against the spread | Straight up
NFL odds for Week 18
Below are the latest Week 18 NFL odds, including point spreads, money lines and over-under totals for every game, according to FanDuel Sportsbook .
Last updated: Wednesday, Jan. 5.
NFL point spreads Week 18
|Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos||KC -10|
|Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles||DAL -7|
|Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions||GB -2.5|
|Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings||MIN -2.5|
|Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars||IND -15.5|
|Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans||TEN -10.5|
|Washington Football Team at New York Giants||WAS -6.5|
|Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens||BAL -5.5|
|Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns||CIN -3|
|New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins||NE -7|
|New York Jets at Buffalo Bills||BUF -16.5|
|Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||TB -8|
|New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons||NO -4.5|
|Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals||ARI -6.5|
|San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams||LAR -4|
|Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders||LAC -2.5|
NFL money lines Week 18
|Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos||DEN +370|
|Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles||PHI +250|
|Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions||DET +120|
|Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings||CHI +120|
|Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars||JAX +730|
|Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans||HOU +420|
|Washington Football Team at New York Giants||NYG +250|
|Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens||PIT +190|
|Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns||CLE +124|
|New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins||MIA +245|
|New York Jets at Buffalo Bills||NYJ +810|
|Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||CAR +295|
|New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons||ATL +172|
|Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals||SEA +235|
|San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams||SF +166|
|Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders||LV +120|
NFL over-unders Week 18
|Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos||44|
|Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles||42.5|
|Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions||43.5|
|Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings||44.5|
|Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars||44|
|Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans||43|
|Washington Football Team at New York Giants||38.5|
|Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens||42|
|Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns||42|
|New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins||40|
|New York Jets at Buffalo Bills||43.5|
|Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||41.5|
|New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons||40.5|
|Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals||48|
|San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams||44.5|
|Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders||49.5|
WEEK 18 PICKS: Against the spread | Straight up
NFL best bets for Week 18
Dolphins (+7) vs. Patriots
OK, so on paper, the Patriots might seem like the right side here. They’re still competing for the AFC East title while the Dolphins were officially eliminated from playoff contention last week, so the motivational edge lies with the Patriots.
However, New England has had its share of struggles over the years against the Dolphins, especially playing in Miami. That makes them vulnerable, especially as seven-point favorites.
Since 2013, the Patriots are, shockingly, just 2-6 when traveling to Miami. They have simply not been able to win in Miami, struggling even when Tom Brady was their quarterback. How can they expect Mac Jones, a rookie, to fare much better?
The Dolphins have a solid defense overall. It has had its share of issues this year, but they excel blitzing quarterbacks and do so on nearly 40 percent of their defensive plays. Jones hasn’t seen that type of pressure this season. In fact, he has only been pressured on 27.8 percent of his dropbacks this year. But when pressured, his turnover-worthy play percentage rises from 2 to 3.7.
The Patriots’ defense is well-equipped to slow Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins’ offense, but this seems to have the makings of a low-scoring game, much like their first meeting, a 17-16 Dolphins win at Gillette Stadium in Week 1. We’re getting a touchdown here, so it’s best to roll with the Dolphins, especially since the Patriots could rest their starters in the second half if the Bills build an insurmountable lead on the Jets and clinch the AFC East.
BetQL agrees that Miami is the right side here. They have the Dolphins listed as a four-star bet and their model says that they should only be 5.5-point underdogs. Pro bettors are siding with the Dolphins as well, as they have an early 10 percent pro money advantage.
For more top betting picks from BetQL, click here.
49ers (+4) at Rams
Sean McVay doesn’t have many weaknesses, but one of them is playing against the 49ers. McVay has struggled against fellow offensive wunderkind Kyle Shanahan and since both took NFC West head coaching jobs in 2017, McVay’s Rams have a 3-6 record against Shanahan’s 49ers. This includes five consecutive losses for the Rams.
It was presumed that the recent struggles may have been related to Jared Goff’s performance, but Matthew Stafford couldn’t beat the 49ers as road favorites earlier in the year. Now, Los Angeles will try to snap the streak and win the NFC West while the 49ers will need to win to stay in the playoff race.
Both teams have a reason to play hard this week, but the 49ers may have the advantage. Why? Because they can get after Stafford. The veteran quarterback has been banged-up this season and hasn’t looked right in recent weeks. The Rams have won each of their last two games, but they have only been by a combined eight points. During those contests, Stafford has committed a combined six turnovers, three in each game.
Turnovers were an issue in the Rams’ 31-10 loss to the 49ers in Week 10. Stafford threw a couple of picks in that one, and that was enough to keep him out of rhythm in the game. Can the 49ers do it again? Their cornerbacks aren’t exactly strong right now, and Odell Beckham Jr. has developed better chemistry with Stafford, but the 49ers should still be able to keep this one close.
It will be important to watch the spread this week, as we’re still not sure whether Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance will be quarterbacking the 49ers. If it’s Lance, the 49ers may be bigger underdogs, but that would make them a more appealing pick since Lance is more explosive than Jimmy G and could make some big plays.
Either way, the 49ers are built to keep this game close by getting pass-rush pressure on Stafford. If they can do that and create turnovers, they could win outright. As such, they’re another good underdog to trust.
IYER: How Antonio Brown exit impacts Buccaneers’ Super Bowl chances
Jaguars (+15.5) vs. Colts
I imagine you’re probably thinking something along these lines right now: This guy is insane. Why would he recommend betting on the Jaguars here? They’ve lost eight games in a row and have been defeated by an average of 21.8 points per game in their last five!
That point is well-taken. So is the fact that the Colts need to win to make the playoffs.
That said, this spread is still too high, especially given how many issues the Colts have had against the Jaguars in recent seasons.
Since the beginning of the 2016 season, the Colts have a record of just 6-5 against the Jaguars. They haven’t beaten the Jaguars twice in one season since 2014, which was the last season that the Colts actually won a game in Jacksonville. Incredibly, they have lost six straight games at TIAA Bank Field, including last year’s season opener, a game that they were favored to win by eight points.
There’s no doubt that the Colts have the superior roster. They should be able to run roughshod over the Jaguars with Jonathan Taylor and their defense should give Trevor Lawrence fits. But is that enough to trust them to win by two touchdowns? Probably not. After all, the Colts have only done that once in their last 12 meetings with the Jaguars. That includes a 23-17 win from earlier this season.
The Colts should still win, but this contest could end up being closer than most expect. Most of their recent games against the Jaguars have been. And considering the line value we’re getting on this game — the advanced line on this game Colts (-8.5), meaning that the line has shifted seven points — Jacksonville should be the bet here.
BetQL agrees with us. They have the Jaguars (+15.5) listed a five-star bet, as their projected spread for this game was Colts (-12). That means we’re getting 3.5 points of line value, per their model.