The final day of the regular season has a total of 14 games that will nail down the playoff matchups. Some teams are completely out of it, or have nothing to play for to change their playoff position. That means some potentially crazy finishes as far as wins and losses are concerned.
Predicting winners might be a little challenging in Week 18, but these are the picks against the spread with all the knowledge known right now. Remember that things can change even as late as an hour before kickoff.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns -3
The line looks a little surprising, it’s because Cincinnati announced that they will not be playing Joe Burrow. There is a little bit of a chance that Cincinnati could change their seeding with a win, but they feel more confident in giving their star quarterback some rest. They locked up the divisional title last week, and now it’s about staying tuned up and ready to go for a possible playoff run.
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Another reason why Cleveland is favored comes down to Baker Mayfield. After having a shaky start against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, he’d love to go out on a high note for the regular season. Expect Cleveland to be just a bit more motivated in this one and pick up a victory on their home field.
Pick: Cleveland Browns -3
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers -1
Green Bay is taking very little risk in injuring their key players in the season finale. Not only is Aaron Rodgers sitting out the contest, but so are Aaron Jones and Davante Adams. That makes this game pretty unpredictable, but Jordan Love will be trying to show that he has the potential to one day be a regular starter.
As for Detroit, this is one team that’s given high effort all year long despite their record. They’ve been in a lot of games, and they have too many prideful players hoping to secure that next contract. It’s looking more and more like Detroit will finish the regular season with a win, which is something to build on looking forward.
Pick: Detroit Lions +1
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings -3
The Chicago Bears have looked pretty good in the last two weeks, giving their fans some hope moving forward. They don’t have a place to look forward to, but they are still playing with pride and will give Minnesota all they can handle on their home field.
Minnesota gets Kirk Cousins back at quarterback, which should help them solidify their offense once again. Dalvin Cook will also get plenty of touches in the backfield, allowing Minnesota to put up four or more touchdowns in total.
Can Chicago keep up? They’ll keep it close for a little bit, but the quarterback uncertainty finally catches up to them. David Montgomery makes it interesting on the ground, but it’s not enough as Minnesota pulls away late.
Pick: Minnesota Vikings -3
Washington Football Team at New York Giants
Washington Football Team -6.5
Two teams with very little to play for don’t make for the greatest regular-season finale. However, Washington seems to keep picking up victories even while eliminated from the playoffs, and it seems unlikely that will stop this week.
As for New York, they seem completely lost on both sides of the ball. This means it will likely be a loss to close out the year, but will Washington be able to cover almost a touchdown spread?
Taylor Heinicke is looking to give himself a shot at being a full-time starter next year. Finishing off strong for Washington can be a key. Take Washington to win and cover.
Pick: Washington Football Team -6.5
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars
Indianapolis Colts -15.5
Indianapolis comes in with all the motivation in the world to take down the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not only are they the superior team on paper, but they want to get a playoff spot. With the better team severely motivated and the struggling team only playing for draft position, this has all the makings of a blowout.
Jonathan Taylor will get the ball early and often, exposing Jacksonville’s defense one run at a time. He could single-handedly dominate this game, but Indianapolis will pass enough to make it a blowout as well. Even with a huge spread like this, it’s really hard to not pick Indianapolis.
Pick: Indianapolis Colts -15.5
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens -4.5
It’s fair to say that both teams feel like 2021 was a bit of a disappointment. They both missed the playoffs, and both had plenty of questions going into next season. What is likely Ben Roethlisberger‘s last game for the Pittsburgh Steelers will be a challenging one, as Baltimore is still playing hard despite all the injuries.
Lamar Jackson wants to end the regular season on a high note. The only way he’s going to be able to accomplish that is by establishing all elements of his game from the beginning. Expect both quarterbacks to have one of the best games of the year. However, the home team prevails.
Pick: Baltimore Ravens -4.5
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
Tennessee Titans -10.5
Tennessee controls their destiny on Sunday. As long as they go into Houston and beat an inferior Texans team, they are finishing with the number one seed. They’ve done this all without Derrick Henry during the second half of the year, and their game plan won’t change in Week 18.
Houston should expect a lot of running from Tennessee, as well as a defense that can crush opponents. Davis Mills has looked pretty solid as the quarterback for Houston, but he just doesn’t have enough weapons to make this a competitive game.
Expect a double-digit win for Tennessee as they go into the playoffs as one of the true Super Bowl contenders. Some might think that Ryan Tannehill doesn’t have the firepower to be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, but every other aspect of their team is outstanding.
Pick: Tennessee Titans -10.5
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
New Orleans Saints -4.5
Atlanta has a chance to be the spoiler as they host the New Orleans Saints to wrap up the regular season. These two teams always seem to play a close game, and it will be no different this time around.
Matt Ryan is hoping to get the best of their rivals with a great passing game. He’s been fairly consistent all year long, and it’s not like New Orleans has the best pass defense in the world. They’ll counter with Taysom Hill getting a lot of touches in the backfield, but it stays a close contest all day long.
Atlanta has too much of a chance to win outright to not pick them. As the underdog, they could even lose by a field goal and still win with the spread. Take the home team to get the best of New Orleans to wrap up the regular season.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons +4.5
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills -16.5
This is nothing more than a tuneup game for the Buffalo Bills as they get ready for the playoffs. They are more than a two-touchdown favorite against their downstate rivals, and it’s not like the Jets have anything to play for. Expect the running game to establish things early on, with Josh Allen bringing things home with a solid passing game.
The only reason why they are the pick to cover as well is that the defense will get after Zach Wilson. New York struggles to score against most teams anyway. This turns the contest into a blowout.
Pick: Buffalo Bills -16.5
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots -6
The Miami Dolphins came back down to earth after getting crushed by the Tennessee Titans. With their playoff hopes now gone, the season finale will be a bit of a letdown. Meanwhile, New England is hoping to get ready for the postseason. They also have revenge on their minds, as they lost a tough one in Week 1 to Miami.
Look for a lot of runs from New England, as they found success against all types of teams so far this year. It will be an interesting quarterback battle between Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa, but New England gets the better of that end as well. A double-digit win is not out of the question for New England.
Pick: New England Patriots -6
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
Seattle Seahawks -6.5
Both teams are coming in hot on offense, so this has the potential to be a bit of a shootout. Seattle is looking for one last push, while Arizona is prepping for the playoffs. For many, it’s going to come down to the marquee quarterback matchup between Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson.
Wilson has the experience, but Murray has the better squad behind him. Even though Arizona should win this game at home, the spread seems a little high. Seattle keeps it close enough to make things interesting, but ultimately falls.
Pick: Seattle Seahawks +6.5
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -8
Tampa Bay is a much better team on paper, but no one‘s exactly sure who will play and for how long on Sunday. They’ll go up against a Panthers team giving Sam Darnold a shot at quarterback.
Tampa Bay’s defense will love this matchup, as they get a chance to go after Darnold over and over again. If they can put some pressure on Carolina, they can rely on a running game attack on offense. That means a pretty light day for Tom Brady, even if he has some passing records in his sight.
The Bucs will have a look at the bigger picture when going into this game. That’s why Carolina is probably the safer pick since they are +8, but the Buccaneers still win this game.
Pick: Carolina Panthers +8
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams -5.5
In the first matchup, San Francisco got the better of the Los Angeles Rams. However, things will look a little bit different as Trey Lance is scheduled to get the start for the 49ers this week. He showed some signs of being a future star against the Houston Texans, but the Rams will put a lot more pressure on him to test his ability.
Another thing working against San Francisco is that their rushing consistency won’t be there in Week 18 compared to usual. Getting that many points is challenging when looking at the Rams, but they are at home and Matthew Stafford doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. As long as they control the game from the beginning, they should be able to win and cover.
Pick: Los Angeles Rams -5.5
Los Angeles Chargers at Los Vegas Raiders
Los Angeles Charges -3
This is the final game of the NFL regular season, set to kick off after 8 o’clock. Chances are, the two teams will know exactly what they need to do going into the game, which could change up strategy.
The Raiders have all the motivation in the world to steal a wildcard berth by winning this game. If they want to do so, they win by having success on the ground. Derek Carr has just not been solid enough with his passing game to outshine Justin Herbert and the Chargers.
There could be a decent amount of points scored on both sides in this one, which means the Chargers are the prohibitive favorites. They just have a more robust offense, and their defense is a little bit better as well. Take the Chargers to win in cover.