NFL picks, predictions for Week 18: Jaguars take down Titans; Bills eliminate Patriots; Bengals beat Ravens


How do you make your picks in week 18 of the NFL season?

In some ways it’s almost tougher than Week 1. Some teams have everything from home field advantage to a division title to a wildcard berth. Others have the opportunity to rest appetizers. It makes for a chaotic week of choices, especially when those choices can be made in real-time based on other outcomes.

This makes week 18 the most exciting week, but also the most difficult selection. It begins Saturday as Kansas City looks to secure home field advantage in the AFC in Las Vegas. The AFC South will also be decided between Tennessee and Jacksonville. Sunday also has some great questions.

Will Buffalo knock New England out of the playoffs and give either Miami or Pittsburgh a chance to sneak in? Will the Green Bay vs Detroit game be a playoff for both sides? Only if Seattle loses to the Rams. There is a lot to clarify.

A look at our track record this season:

Recording: 162-91-2, .639

Here are our straight picks for week 18 (rows courtesy of BetMGM):

POWER RANKINGS: Chiefs, 49ers pass Eagles, Bills as new 1-2; Packers, Steelers, Patriots cling to life in Week 18

NFL picks, predictions for week 18

  • Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) at Las Vegas Raiders

Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ESPN

The Chiefs may become the AFC No. 1 for the third time in five years, and the line has reached double digits in some places. The Raiders almost played spoilers against the 49ers with Jarrett Stidham under center. Las Vegas lost the first meeting 30-29 and they are 4-2 ATS as underdogs. Patrick Mahomes II leaves no surprise here, however.

Choose: Chiefs 32, hunters 24

  • Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-7)

Saturday, 8 p.m., ESPN

The Jaguars beat the Titans 36-22 in Week 13, starting a four-game winning streak. The winner secures the AFC South, Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel has to decide between quarterbacks Joshua Dobbs and Malik Willis. Dobbs might be a better pick here, and he needs to be spot on against a Jacksonville running defense that has averaged 75 rushing yards allowed. Will Derrick Henry (hip) play?

Choose: Jaguars 26, Titans 21

  • Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-3)

The Texans are No. 1 for now, but the Week 1 tie with the Colts could complicate that if Houston wins here. Indianapolis’ nightmare season ends here, but interim coach Jeff Saturday has at least a chance to walk away with a win. The Colts win ugly at home.

Choose: Stallions 19, Texans 18

  • Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-4)

The Saints have won their last three encounters against the Panthers in this NFC South rivalry, and despite the ups and downs this season, New Orleans still has a 4-3 home record. Carolina interim coach Steve Wilks has made a good case for taking the full-time job, and a win here could seal it. The only problem is that 1-6 record on the road. Will Wilks overcome this?

Choose: Panthers 28, Saints 25

  • Minnesota Vikings (-1) at Chicago Bears

Why is this line so low? The Vikings are out of the mix for No. 1, meaning Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson are among the key players who could rest here. They could still beat a Bears team that has lost nine straight games. This is one to stay away from, but if Cousins​​and Co. are starting then look to Minnesota to try and memory bank that blowout loss to Green Bay.

Choose: Vikings 29, bears 24

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-8)

This is another place where the starters could sit. Tom Brady led the Buccaneers to the NFC South title. Brady wants to play in Week 18, but Todd Bowles may choose to place an experienced team ahead of a playoff run. The Falcons are 5-3 W/U this season, but that range still looks high considering four of those wins came with three points or fewer. Maybe Brady will play a half?

Choose: Falcons 27, Buccaneers 20

AJ Brown

  • New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-13.5)

Will Jalen Hurts play? Will the Giants rest the starters knowing they’re in 6th place? The line indicates this. Philadelphia won the first matchup 48-22. As much as hurts have to return, the defense has allowed 30 points a game over the past two weeks. Philadelphia is 1-2 ATS when favored by more than 10 points and it’s still a division game. The Eagles are still packing the No. 1.

Choose: Eagle 31, giant 20

  • Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5)

Mike Tomlin can still sneak the Steelers into the playoffs, just like last year. Kenny Pickett saved the season against Baltimore in week 17. However, the Browns have their second straight week of playing spoilers with Deshaun Watson and they can sweep the season series with Pittsburgh for the first time since 1988. Even if the Steelers can’t make the playoffs, this game will be hot.

Choose: Brown’s 23, Steeler’s 20

  • Dallas Cowboys (-5.5) at Washington Commanders

The Commanders were eliminated from the playoff race, catching a Cowboys team that still has a shot at home field advantage. Dallas has won the last three meetings Dak Prescott has completed more than 70% of his passes in each of the last three weeks, but he has to clean up the interceptions. Speaking of picks, Carson Wentz needs to be better than last week’s performance of three interceptions for Washington to stage an upset.

Choose: Cowboys 33, Commanders 20


  • New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (-7.5)

The Patriots still have a chance of making the playoffs, but they need a win over Buffalo to secure their final spot in the AFC. After years of being hounded by Tom Brady, the Bills have taken control of this AFC North rivalry by winning five of their last six encounters. Will they knock the Belichick-led Pats out of the playoffs here?

Choose: Bills 28, Patriots 22

  • New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-2.5)

The Dolphins have a shot at the AFC wild card, but Tua Tagovailoa is out, so it’s up to Teddy Bridgewater to break a five-game losing streak. The Jets are also on a five-game losing streak, losing their last four away games. Miami takes last place in the playoffs, but only just.

Choose: Dolphins 31, Jets 27

  • Los Angeles Chargers (-3) at Denver Broncos

The Broncos’ miserable season is ending and the Chargers have an opportunity to rest their starters here with little room for movement in the AFC playoff chase. As a result, this is another stay-away game. Denver played tight against Kansas City. Will they show up here?

Choose: Broncos 23, Chargers 19

  • Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-13.5)

The 49ers have won nine straight games and Brock Purdy has yet to lose a start. San Francisco is 7-2 ATS in this range. The 49ers could retire if the Eagles win, but the Cardinals won’t slow them down. San Francisco makes it 10 straight ahead of what should be a deep run in the NFC playoffs. The Cardinals are 3-3 ATS through a six-game losing streak.

Choose: 49ers 35, Cardinals 24

  • Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks (-6.5)

This is a precarious position for the Seahawks. Seattle needs to win first and hope the Lions beat the excitement on the road against the Packers. Seattle is 4-4 S/U at home this season and Baker Mayfield’s two road starts have not gone well. He averaged 121.5 yards on those two starts.

Choose: Seahawks 28, Rams 19

  • Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-4.5)

The Packers were on a five-game losing streak earlier this season, including a loss in Detroit. The Lions are 3-4 S/U and this would be the ultimate arrival for sophomore coach Dan Campbell. However, the Packers click at the right time and lead football with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. How many times have we seen Aaron Rodgers do this at Lambeau Field — where, despite those struggles, the Packers are 5-2 S/U this season and 29-6 S/U as of 2019 under Matt LaFleur.

Choose: Packer 31, Lions 26

  • Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-6)

Will Lamar Jackson return? How much rust will he show if that’s the case? Baltimore won the first meeting 19-17, but the Bengals were arguably the AFC’s best team in the second half of the season. The Ravens’ defense has only allowed 12.1 points per game in five games without Jackson. How does that translate against the Bengalis?

Choose: Bengal 24, Ravens 20

Dave Gallo

Dave Gallo is a pioneering sports analytics expert, renowned for his revolutionary work in AI-driven sports simulations, projections, and advanced statistical analysis. With a profound passion for sports and technology, he crafts cutting-edge computer models that accurately predict outcomes. Dave's game-changing insights have reshaped strategy, player evaluation, and decision-making across various sports. His dynamic presentations make complex analytics accessible and inspiring, ensuring his legacy as a visionary in sports analytics. Check out Dave's Pick Record.

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