NFL Week 18 betting breakdown: Odds, trends, score projections

NFL Week 18 betting breakdown: Odds, trends, score projections


Tony Mejia,,, @MejiaDinero

Jets (7-9) at Dolphins (8-8)

Time: 10:00, KVVU-5

Line/total: Dolphins -3, 36½

Analysis: Rookie QB Skylar Thompson will battle Joe Flacco, who turns 38 next week, and try to help the Dolphins reach the playoffs with a win if the Bills beat the Patriots. Miami is one of the hardest hitting teams in football, and its poor secondary will be challenged with Flacco starting over the inconsistent Zach Wilson. The Jets won 40-17 in Week 5, when Thompson helped produce the only three points in the second half.

By the numbers: Miami has won the last six meetings between the teams in South Florida. … Under is on a 4-0 run in Jets games. … Both teams are on five-game losing streaks.

Pick: Dolphins 23, Jets 20

Browns (7-9) at Steelers (8-8)

Time: 10 am

Line/total: Steels -2½, 40

Analysis: Pittsburgh fans will split their attention between the Steelers game and action in Miami and Buffalo, as the Jets and Bills must win to leave the door open for a playoff spot. QB Deshaun Watson has struggled for the Browns since returning to action. Steelers rookie QB Kenny Pickett has made mistakes but has impressed with his toughness under pressure. DE Jadeveon Clowney was kicked out by the Browns on Friday, so Pickett will have one less pass rusher to deal with.

By the numbers: The Steelers are in danger of their first losing record at home since 1999. … Under is 6-0 in the Browns’ last six games. … Pittsburgh is on an 0-5 skid against the spread as the favorite against AFC North foes.

The pick: Steelers 20, Browns 16

Texans (2-13-1) at Colts (4-11-1)

Time: 10 am

Line/total: Colts -2½, 37½

Analysis: Since taking over for Frank Reich, interim Colts coach Jeff Saturday won in Las Vegas, but has since gone 0-6 and posted the longest lead (33-0) in NFL history. The Colts have gone 107-16 since taking the lead over the Vikings on Dec. 17. But they’re favored here as the Texans would move away from their hold on the No. 1 pick. 1 in the draft with one win and one loss to the Bears. Sam Ehlinger will start at QB for Indianapolis, and Davis Mills will be at QB for Houston. Yuck.

By the numbers: The under is 6-0 in the teams’ last six meetings. … These teams tied 20-20 in Week 1 when the Colts were 7-point road favorites. … Indianapolis is 1-5 ATS against AFC South foes. … Houston will end the season underdogs in every game.

Pick: Colts 20, Texans 16

Buccaneers (8-8) at Falcons (6-10)

Time: 10 am

Line/total: Falcons -4, 40½

Analysis: With seed no. 4 in the NFC, Tampa coach Todd Bowles has ruled out a group of players, mostly on defense. But QB Tom Brady and OT Tristan Wirfs will start. How long they will play remains to be seen, but it would be an upset if they are there in the second half. The youth movement continues for Atlanta, which snapped a four-game skid against Arizona last week. Rookie QB Desmond Ridder and RB Tyler Allgeier have shown much improvement since being given bigger roles.

By the numbers: The Falcons have been involved in six straight one-possession games. …The Under is on an 8-1 run in Atlanta games, picking up a shutout in its last six games. … Tampa Bay has won six of the last seven meetings, including a 21-15 win in Week 5.

The pick: Falcons 24, Bucs 19

Panthers (6-10) at Saints (7-9)

Time: 10 am

Line/total: Saints -3½, 42

Analysis: Word is out that Jim Harbaugh has interviewed for the Carolina coaching gig. But interim coach Steve Wilks has staked a claim for the job by leading a young group that split to a 5-6 finish. Three of the losses have been in one-possession games. QB Sam Darnold has improved under Wilks’ watch and threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 30-24 loss to the Bucs. The Saints are looking to wrap up their fourth straight win and have not given up more than 18 points in five straight games.

By the numbers: New Orleans has won nine of the teams’ last 12 meetings. But it is in danger of being swept in a season series for the first time since 2015. … Carolina has lost 10 of its last 11 road games. … The Saints are 8-1 under the run.

Pick: Saints 20, Panthers 19

Patriots (8-8) at Bills (12-3)

Time: 10:00, CLASS-8

Line/total: Bills -7½, 43½

Analysis: With Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin recovering nicely from Monday night’s scare, the Bills can finally breathe again. He even lifted the squad by surprising them via video conference on Friday. Although Buffalo’s practice schedule was cut short for obvious reasons, we’re ready to see if having fresher legs provides an advantage in a short week after the first-quarter layoff in Cincinnati. New England will make the playoffs with a win and arrives in upstate New York as healthy as it has been all season.

By the numbers: The Bills have won five of the teams’ last six meetings. … Favorites are 9-0 straight up in Patriots last nine games. … New England is going 8-0 in January in the regular season.

Pick: Bills 26, Patriots 20

Ravens (10-6) at Bengals (11-4)

Time: 10 am

Line/total: Bengals -9, 40

Analysis: The Bengals will win the AFC North no matter what happens here. Cincinnati owns an AFC-best seven-game winning streak. Revenge has been in play since the Bengals fell to Baltimore 19-17 on Oct. 9. But Ravens QB Lamar Jackson won’t be around for that. Backup Tyler Huntley will start but is battling shoulder soreness, so look for Baltimore’s offense to be heavy.

By the numbers: The Ravens are on a 6-0 run against AFC North foes. … The Bengals are on a 12-1 ATS streak, covering seven straight. … Cincinnati ranks fourth in passing and 26th in rushing offense. … Baltimore ranks second on the ground and 29th in the air.

Pick: Bengals 30, Ravens 12

Vikings (12-4) at Bears (3-13)

Time: 10 am

Line/total: Vikings -6, 42½

Analysis: Minnesota’s 41-17 loss to the Packers on Sunday dropped the Vikings behind the 49ers at No. 3 in the NFC, but they still have a lot to play for and will open the game with their starters. Chicago will be without QB Justin Fields and will instead go with Nathan Peterman. So expect us to see a 10th straight loss from the Bears, who could secure the No. 1 overall in the draft if Houston beats the Colts.

By the numbers: Chicago has been outscored 76-23 the last two weeks. … Despite their stellar record, the Vikings have a minus-19 point differential. … Bears are on a 2-7 ATS skid. … Minnesota leads 6-0.

Pick: Vikings 24, Bears 14

Rams (5-11) at Seahawks (8-8)

Time: 13:25

Line/total: Seahawks -6, 41½

Analysis: Seattle needs a win and a Lions win over Green Bay to make the playoffs. WR Tyler Lockett is expected to return to action for Seattle and RB Kenneth Walker III wasn’t even listed on the final injury report, so Pete Carroll’s team appears to be in good shape. Rams QB Baker Mayfield has played well since arriving and is joined in the backfield by another tight end looking to finish in RB Cam Akers. Rain is expected.

By the numbers: Seattle is on a 3-0 streak. … The Rams have covered seven of the last eight meetings. … Los Angeles is on a six-game road losing streak (1-4-1 ATS).

Pick: Seahawks 23, Rams 17

Giants (9-6-1) at Eagles (13-3)

Time: 13:25

Line/total: Eagles -16, 43

Analysis: All eyes are on Philadelphia QB Jalen Hurts’ availability, but it looks like he’ll start. The Eagles must win to clinch the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the NFC after suffering back-to-back losses. New York is already in the playoffs and will likely rest all of the beat players. Expect to see veteran QB Tyrod Taylor get an extended run for the Giants, who are locked into the No. 1 seed. 6 after outscoring the Colts 38-10 in their highest scoring game of the season.

By the numbers: Philadelphia won the first meeting 48-22 in Week 14, posting a season-high score. … The Eagles have won eight straight at home against the Giants. … New York is on a 5-1 ATS run, just failing to cover against the Eagles.

Pick: Eagles 30, Giants 17

Cardinals (4-12) at 49ers (12-4)

Time: 13:25

Line/total: 49 ers -14½, 40

Analysis: RB Christian McCaffrey missed some practice this week but is expected to suit up and play for the 49ers as they look to at least stay in the No. 2 in NFC, if not stick. WR Deebo Samuel and RB Elijah Mitchell have also been cleared to play, so rookie QB Brock Purdy has more weapons to work with as he continues his ascent. Arizona DE JJ Watt will play what is expected to be his final game after he announced his intention to retire.

By the numbers: The 49ers look to extend an NFL-best nine-game winning streak here (7-2 ATS). … San Francisco is on a 7-0 ATS run against NFC West foes. … Arizona is averaging 15.8 points since losing QB Kyler Murray.

Pick: 49ers 31, Cardinals 9

Chargers (10-6) at Broncos (4-12)

Time: 13:25, CLASS-8

Line/total: Broncos -3, 39½

Analysis: The Chargers will know from the get-go whether they’ve already clinched the No. 5 playoff seed in the AFC or need to beat Denver to lock it up. That will determine how much time Los Angeles plays its starters in this game, if at all. Denver is 0-1 since firing coach Nathaniel Hackett and nearly won at Kansas City last week leading into the fourth quarter.

By the numbers: Los Angeles beat Denver 19-16 in OT in Week 6. … The Broncos have lost nine straight division games. … Denver is on a 4-0 streak after an 11-1 losing streak.

Pick: Broncos 21, Chargers 19

Cowboys (12-4) at Commanders (7-8-1)

Time: 13:25, KVVU-5

Line/Total: Cowboys -6½, 40

Analysis: Washington will give rookie QB Sam Howell his first NFL start after losing three straight with Taylor Heinicke and Carson Wentz behind center. He will face a solid Dallas defense that still has hope of winning the NFC East. The Cowboys have won eight of their last 10 games, with both losses coming in OT. Depending on what’s going on in Philadelphia at the same time, the backups could wrap this up for Dallas.

By the numbers: The Chiefs are on a 4-0 record at home. … Washington is on an 0-4 ATS skid. … Dallas has won 10 of its last 11 games against NFC East foes, beating Washington 25-10 in Week 4 and sweeping last season’s meetings 27-20 and 56-14.

Pick: Cowboys 31, Commanders 16

Lions (8-8) at Packers (8-8)

Time: 17:15, KSNV-3

Line/total: Packers -5, 49

Analysis: Detroit could be in for a buzzkill if the Seahawks beat the Rams and knock the Lions out of playoff contention. But Detroit’s starters will definitely play and let it all out no matter what. For Green Bay, which has won four in a row, it is also a victory in the playoffs. Weather won’t be a factor as it will be a balmy 20 degrees at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers’ only three-interception game came in Detroit, adding to his motivation.

By the numbers: Rodgers has a TD pass in 15 straight games and had his first TD run of the season last week. … The Lions have won and covered four of their last five as losers and are on a 9-0 ATS streak against NFC North foes.

Pick: Packers 31, Lions 20

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