If you’re trailing in your NFL pick ’em pool, then you have to take some risks with underdogs or unpopular favorites this week. If you’re still alive in your NFL survivor pool, then there’s no more “saving teams.” No matter what type of strategy you’re employing in your various football pools this week, one constant remains: You need to get your picks right. Fortunately, the experts from TeamRankings are here to help inform your Week 18 NFL picks with tips and advice on five key games.
Picks that are being underrated by the public can yield weekly gains that make the difference between winning and losing a season-long NFL pool, while smart upset picks can drive success in weekly pools. TeamRankings is the only site that provides customized picks that maximize your edge in NFL pick ’em pools. Check out TeamRankings’ Football Pick ’em Picks, NFL Survivor Picks, and NFL Betting Picks.
Week 18 NFL Pick ’em Pool Picks: Tips, strategy
How We Identify NFL Week 18 Value Picks
This article is written on Wednesday, but if the win odds and pick popularity numbers hold, the teams below all provide compelling risk-vs.-reward trade-offs to differentiate your Week 18 picks from your pool opponents.
It’s important to note that we’re not necessarily saying you should make all of these picks. In particular, some upset picks may be unnecessarily risky for your pool, even if they are technically undervalued. You need to take an overall level of risk with your picks that’s appropriate for your pool size and rules. Season-long pools typically call for more conservative picks than single-week pools, but if you find yourself trailing a leader with two weeks to go to get in the money, you may also need to increase the number of risks you take. If you want our game-by-game pick recommendations for all of your specific pools, use our Football Pick ’em Picks product.
Note: Win odds and estimated pick popularity data below may change between publication time and kickoff time. If you want the latest numbers, our product updates multiple times per day.
Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Point Spread: -6.0
Pick Popularity: 22%
Category: Value Favorite
The Bengals have already clinched the AFC North. Cincinnati RB Joe Mixon is out this week after testing positive for COVID, and QB Joe Burrow (knee) will also not be starting. That’s why the line has shifted to the Browns being a sizable favorite.
So far, the public data shows most people are still picking the Bengals. Take advantage and lock in the Browns.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
Point Spread: -4.0
Pick Popularity: 68%
Category: Value Favorite
The Saints are the favorite here, but enough people are picking a Falcons upset to make New Orleans a worthwhile pick. New Orleans needs to win to make the playoffs. Atlanta beat them earlier in the year in New Orleans, so that might also be factoring into the public pick rates here.
Fun fact: The Saints have a winning record (11-8) in Atlanta since the NFC South was formed in 2002, including going 6-1 as a favorite.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Point Spread: -7.0
Pick Popularity: 77%
Category: Favorite at a Reasonable Price
Both Dallas and Philadelphia are in the playoffs, and Dallas has clinched the NFC East. Philadelphia is locked into either the No. 6 or No. 7 seed in the NFC. Dallas could improve all the way to the No. 2 seed, but it would need some other upsets for that to happen. The Cowboys are about a touchdown favorite right now, but enough of the public is giving the Eagles a chance that there’s value in just staying on Dallas.
Several key Eagles players are likely out for Saturday’s game after testing positive for COVID, including OL Jason Kelce, TE Dallas Goedert and DL Fletcher Cox. Given that they have already clinched a playoff spot and can’t do much to improve their positioning, the Eagles aren’t likely to rush players back.
Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers
Point Spread: +4.0
Pick Popularity: 11%
Category: Value Upset Gamble
The Packers are a very popular pick against Detroit, which is not surprising given that Green Bay is 13-3 and the Lions are 2-13-1. But the Packers have already clinched the top seed in the NFC, so there’s no guarantee that they play their starters throughout the entire game.
The betting market has adjusted the line down to where Detroit is seen as having a legitimate chance of winning. With the low popularity, the Lions have a lot of value if you’re looking for an upset where the better team will likely treat it more like a preseason game in the second half.
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Point Spread: +8.0
Pick Popularity: 2%
Category: Value Upset Gamble
We wouldn’t normally include an eight-point underdog as a pick recommendation, but it’s the last week of the season. If you’re trailing and need a big upset to jump you up your pool’s standings, it’s worth considering the Panthers.
Carolina is extremely unpopular. Only the Jets (as a 16-point underdog) are being picked less frequently. About 83 percent of the public is picking Tampa Bay with the spread, which is the most popular pick of the week in spread pools. But we estimate the Panthers’ win odds at 26 percent. With so few entries picking them, you are likely to be one of a few (in a large pool) or maybe the only one who picks them.
The Buccaneers have some key offensive players out, including RB Leonard Fournette and WR Chris Godwin. They aren’t playing their best right now. The Panthers would need to have a good defensive performance, but if you need to throw a Hail Mary, this is the best game in which to attempt it.
Week 18 NFL Survivor Pool Picks: Most popular picks
It’s the final week for survivor pools unless they extend into the playoffs. That means the future is now and there is no saving up for a different week. If entries have made it this far, they have likely used most of the good teams.
Here are the most popular picks so far for Week 18.
- Tennessee Titans (36% popularity) at Houston Texans
- Washington Football Team (14% popularity) at New York Giants
- Baltimore Ravens (10% popularity) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
- New Orleans Saints (7% popularity) at Atlanta Falcons
- Buffalo Bills (4% popularity) vs. New York Jets
You can check out our Week 18 pick analysis and get our customized pick recommendations if you are still competing in a survivor pool.
Get All Our Week 18 NFL Picks
Football Pick ’em Picks from TeamRankings is the only product that gives you the picks, tools, and analysis you need to maximize your edge in NFL pick ’em pools. It uses algorithms to identify the calculated risks that give you the best chance to win your straight-up, point spread, or confidence pool.
From a strategy perspective, game theory is a foundational aspect of winning pick ’em pools. In short, to win a pick ’em pool, you have to score points that your opponents miss. That means you need to identify unpopular picks that are worth a calculated gamble and avoid trendy upset picks not worth the risk. Our product does all that number crunching for you, 71 percent of our subscribers report winning a prize in football picks contests.
If you want to learn more about football pick ’em pool strategy, you can also check out our free articles about strategy for winning football pick ’em pools. Good luck in your pools this week!