NFL best bets, Patriots-Bills picks against the spread for Week 18
It’s not fair to write something clever or weird about picks for the Patriots-Bills game with everything going on in Buffalo. So I won’t.
At this point, it is not even certain that the game will be played. Hopefully on Sunday at 1 p.m., Buffalo’s huge fan base pours into that grand old stadium after receiving some really good news about Damar Hamlin’s prognosis.
Hopefully, by then his life won’t be in jeopardy yet, and things like seeds and playoff spots can seem important again.
Let’s take a look at the picks (and our locks of the week):
New England Patriots (+7.5) at Buffalo Bills
Mark Daniels (Season Record: Hairs: 3-7, Patriots: 8-1): Bills – The Patriots haven’t been able to compete with the Bills outside of a game that featured gusty winds. I don’t see this offense outperforming Buffalo in any situation.
Chris Mason (Season Record: Hairs: 6-11, Patriots: 9-7): Bills – It’s sure to be an emotional afternoon at Highmark Stadium, and I think the Bills will be fueled even more than usual by the home crowd. Even with a loss, the Patriots can still make the playoffs.
Nick O’Malley (Season record: Bulls: 12-5, Patriots: 8-8): Bills – The entire country will be looking for the Bills to come together after the scary incident involving their teammate. I won’t be the one to bet against them.
Barstool Sportsbook betting approved for Mass, mobile betting to launch in March
Jim Pignatiello (Season record: Locks: 4-10-3, Patriots: 13-3): Bills – Credit to the Patriots who have their playoff fate in their own hands in Week 18, but their season ends here with a double-digit loss.
Matt Vautour: (Season record: Locks: 8-9, Patriots: 11-5): Bills – If this game is played, I think it’s in character for this Bills team to come together and use the moment to honor their friend them and teammates.
Hair of the Week
Each week each of our VIP pickers also roll with a weekly block against the spread. So far, some of the locks have been stripped away, but here’s what we’re thinking about Week 19.
Mark Daniels: Bucs (+4) over Falcons – Tom Brady over Atlanta? Of course. Always. And forever. Even with the Buccaneers clinching a playoff spot, I don’t see the Falcons winning this game.
Chris Mason: Lions (+4.5) over Packers — Even if the Seahawks win earlier in the day, Dan Campbell’s team is poised to play spoiler and knock Aaron Rodgers out of the final NFC playoff spot.
Nick O’Malley: Jets (-1) over Dolphins – Jets defense is really good. I don’t see Miami managing much offense if their top quarterbacks are out.
Jim Pignatiello: Steelers (-3) over Browns – Pittsburgh has won five of its last six and needs a win to keep its playoff hopes alive. I think they win and go in here. Bonus points for another terrible performance by Deshaun Watson.
Matt Vautour: Cowboys (-7.5) over Commanders – Who will quarterback Washington Carson Wentz? Taylor Heinicke? Mark Rypien? Joe Theisman? Who cares. The Cowboys pounce on this one.
MORE PICKS FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The NFL is moving forward with the Week 18 schedule during a difficult and emotional week.
While coaches, players, fans and the sports community are focused on the health of Bills safety Damar Hamlin, the final weekend of the regular season begins Saturday with the Kansas City Chiefs visiting the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Chiefs (13-3) took over the AFC’s No. 1 seed when the Bills-Bengals game was suspended in the first quarter after Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and had to be revived on the field.
It’s uncertain whether the Bills-Bengals game will be restarted or canceled, so the Chiefs need a win to retain that top spot.
The Raiders (6-10) were eliminated last week after losing in overtime to San Francisco.
The Chiefs are 9 1/2 point favorites, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Pro Picks figures Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will want to finish strong after a battle against the lowly Broncos last week.
Houston (plus 2 1/2) at Indianapolis
The Texans (2-13-1) must lose to lock up the No. 1 pick in the draft.
New York Giants (plus 14) at Philadelphia
The Eagles (13-3) are playing for the No. 1 seed. The Giants (9-6-1) are locked into the NFC’s sixth seed.
BEST BET: EAGLES, 30-13
Tennessee (plus 6) at Jacksonville
The AFC South title is on the line. Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars (8-8) have won four straight. The Titans (7-9) are giving Josh Dobbs his second straight start, aiming to snap a six-game losing streak and secure a third straight title.
New York Jets (minus 1) in Miami
The Dolphins (8-8) are likely to start rookie Skylar Thompson because of injuries to Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater as they look to snap a five-game losing streak and try to earn a spot. The Jets (7-9) have been reduced to spoilers after losing five straight games.
Cleveland (plus 2 1/2) at Pittsburgh
The Steelers (8-8) still have a shot at a vacancy and want to avoid coach Mike Tomlin’s first losing season.
Tampa Bay (plus 4 1/2) at Atlanta
Tom Brady wants to play even though the Buccaneers (8-8) are locked in the NFC’s fourth seed. Bucs coach Todd Bowles can’t keep his starters around for long.
Carolina (plus 3 1/2) at New Orleans
This game would have had playoff implications had the Buccaneers not rallied against Carolina last week.
New England (plus 7) at Buffalo
It’s hard to imagine how the Bills (12-3) will handle playing this game with Hamlin in the hospital. The Patriots (8-8) need a win to clinch an at-large berth.
Minnesota (minus 7 1/2) at Chicago
The Vikings (12-4) fell to the third seed. Nathan Peterman starts for the Bears.
Baltimore (plus 6 1/2) at Cincinnati
The AFC North would have been up for grabs if the Bengals (11-4) had lost to the Bills. The Ravens are 2-2 with Tyler Huntley filling in for Lamar Jackson.
Los Angeles Rams (plus 6 1/2) at Seattle
The Seahawks (8-8) need a win and a loss by Green Bay to clinch a wild-card berth.
Los Angeles Chargers (minus 2 1/2) at Denver
The Chargers (10-6) don’t have much in play, either a fifth or sixth seed.
LONG SPECIAL: BRONCOS, 20-17
Arizona (plus 14) at San Francisco
The 49ers (12-4) would win title no. 1 with a win and loss by Philadelphia.
49 ERS, 34-9
Dallas (minus 7 1/2) at Washington
The Cowboys (12-4) still have a shot to win the NFC East.
Detroit (plus 4 1/2) at Green Bay
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (8-8) have climbed from 4-8 to a spot where a win clinches a berth. The Lions (8-8) need a win and a Seattle loss to get in after a 1-6 start.
Last week: Outright: 12-3. Against the spread: 9-6.
Season: Outright: 159-95. Against the spread: 128-121-5.
Thursday: Live: 13-6. Against the spread: 9-10.
Monday: Live: 10-7. Against the spread: 8-9.
Best bet: Straight: 9-8. Against the spread: 9-8.
Upset Special: Straight Up: 6-11. Against the spread: 8-8-1.