NFL Office Pool Picks Week 18 with Expert Analysis and ATS Predictions
The final week of the NFL season is here, and each team is looking to make their final push for the playoffs or otherwise end the season properly. There is still plenty of uncertainty, especially following the tragedy on Monday Night Football. With the game rightfully suspended following the tragedy surrounding Demar Hamlin, it is still unsure how the NFL will proceed with the matter. For the time being, the focus will be on his health as well. However, assuming the NFL goes on as scheduled, we will attempt to do the same. Here is a look at the Week 18 slate with some early predictions for what to expect.
Doc’s Sports offers NFL picks for every game on our NFL predictions page.
Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) over Las Vegas Raiders
The Chiefs need a win and a Bills loss to jump into the top seed in the AFC but have their postseason spot locked up. The Raiders are outside of the playoff picture and have struggled mightily throughout the year. However, they have shown some renewed signs of life, especially after announcing Derek Carr would be benched for the final two games. In his absence, Jarrett Stidham put forth a solid performance by completing 23 of his 34 pass attempts for 365 yards and three touchdowns. While he did toss two interceptions, he took the 49ers to overtime, where the Raiders lost by a field goal. Expect Stidham to continue playing with plenty to prove but for Kansas City to be too much in this one. While this one may stay competitive for a while, count on the Chiefs offense to be too much and for them to pull away. Chiefs 33, Raiders 20.
Jacksonville Jaguars (-6.5) over Tennessee Titans
The Titans look like a shell of the contenders they seemed to be shaping into earlier in the year. They have slipped to 7-9, including losing their last six games coming into this matchup. Mike Vrabel is going with Joshua Dobbs over rookie Malik Willis in a ‘win and you’re in’ matchup, but none of the quarterback options are particularly great. The Jaguars already defeated Tennessee 36-22 in Week 14, have scored at least 30 points in three of their last four, and will be playing for a postseason berth as well. While the Titans can make up for their downward spiral by coming out on top, it is difficult to have much faith in their offense. Take the Jaguars to outscore Tennessee and cruise to a 27-17 victory.
Cincinnati Bengals (-7) over Baltimore Ravens
The Bengals will likely not make up their matchup with the Bills, and the event surely had a profound impact on each player. Both teams have clinched their postseason berths, and Lamar Jackson’s status is still uncertain. One would think they would give him some time on the field if healthy to kick off some rust ahead of the playoffs. Cincinnati’s 5th ranked rushing defense will be put to the tease against the run-heavy Ravens, but both teams may consider giving some of their starters the week off. This is one you should keep an eye on what players do and do not suit up before the game kicks off, but I lean toward the Bengals coming out on top. Their seven-game win streak is still active, and they have been playing some impressive football throughout the second half of the year. Bengals 27, Ravens 17.
Carolina Panthers (+3.5) over New Orleans Saints
Both these teams have been eliminated from the postseason but have plenty to play for. For Carolina, Steve Wilks has put forth an impressive performance as interim head coach, leading the team to a 5-5 record despite Christian McCaffrey being traded away. Sam Darnold will also be looking to make his case for why he deserves consideration as a starting quarterback, whether on the Panthers or somewhere else in the NFL next season. The Saints do not have their own first-round pick and are currently riding a three-game winning streak, so first-year head coach Dennis Allen will be looking to end on a high note. Their recent victory over the Eagles was impressive, even considering Philadelphia was without Jalen Hurts. While New Orleans is riding high, look for Carolina to pull off the upset and lay a strong foundation for next year. They have scored an average of 26 points across the past five weeks, and the change in team attitude from the start of the season has been notable. Panthers 30, Saints 24.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) over Cleveland Browns
Mike Tomlin deserves a massive amount of credit for the coaching job he has done in turning this season around. Pittsburgh is coming off what is likely their most impressive win of the season, as Kenny Pickett led the team to a comeback victory over the Ravens on Sunday night. The team moved to 8-8 and put Pittsburgh within striking distance of the postseason. Cleveland has been eliminated from the postseason race but is coming off a 24-10 victory over the Commanders in which Deshaun Watson has begun to show signs of shaking the rust off. While Watson will surely play the entire game and still has plenty to prove, the Steelers have more to play for and have been improved their level of play in recent games. Pittsburgh 27, Cleveland 20.
Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) over Houston Texans
In what is set to be among the ugliest of the Week 18 matchups, the 4-11-1 Colts will match up with the 2-13-1 Texans, with these two teams picking up the tie in their Week 1 matchup. The Colts have been outscored 97-16 since they had the 33-0 lead at halftime against the Vikings. Houston also has not played inspiring football, and a loss would cement them the number one pick in the draft. With Jeff Saturday looking to make his case to continue as head coach moving forward, and the Texans content with cementing the number one pick, take the Colts to pick up the win and end the season on a high note. Indianapolis 17, Houston 6.
Minnesota Vikings (-4) over Chicago Bears
The Bears have not won a game since Week 7 and come in with a 3-13 record overall. The Vikings will also be coming off a loss, as they were defeated by the Packers 41-17 last week. Kirk Cousins struggled in the matchup, throwing three costly interceptions, and Justin Jefferson was held to just one catch for 15 yards. There is some speculation that they wouldn’t mind losing this game as well, as their playoff berth has been clinched and currently are set to face the New York Giants, whom they have already defeated this year. A loss by Chicago would mean they have the number two overall pick at worst. Even if Minnesota rests their stars, backup Nick Mullens should have no issues making an impact in the passing game. Take the Vikings to get the win and prove they are a significantly better team. Vikings 31, Bears 17.
Buffalo Bills (-7.5) over New England Patriots
The Patriots have a lot to play for as they improved their record to 8-8 and find themselves right in the postseason mix. The most straightforward way for them to get in would be for them to beat the Bills. This will not be an easy task against the team that has looked like the best team in the NFL for most of the season. Buffalo ranks 5th in the NFL in scoring while allowing the second-fewest yards, and fewest points. In what is sure to be an emotional matchup, lean toward the Bills picking up their 13th victory and carrying the momentum into the postseason. New England will likely end up needing some additional help if they are to find their way into the playoffs, with the Dolphins, Steelers, and Titans games all playing a role. Bills 31, Patriots 20.
Miami Dolphins (PK) over New York Jets
After getting off to a hot start to the season and controlling their playoff destiny, the Jets have lost five consecutive games and been eliminated from contention. The Dolphins also have fallen off from their hot start and will now need a win and some help to get in. Tua Tagovailoa is in concussion protocol once again, and Teddy Bridgewater will miss the game with a dislocated pinky on his throwing hand. Skylar Thompson will get the start in this must-win matchup, but he has struggled in his given opportunities this season. The Dolphins best chance will be getting the ball out of his hands quickly and allowing their dangerous receivers to make an impact, but this will be a difficult task against a hard-nosed Jets defense. Don’t expect this to be a high-scoring game but for the Dolphins to do just enough to find a way to win. Miami 17, New York 9.
Atlanta Falcons (-3) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay is locked into the 4th seed, with nothing to lose or gain in this matchup. On the other hand, the Falcons have been playing better football of late and are coming off a 20-19 victory over the Cardinals. Desmond Ridder has looked solid as the starter and will be looking to prove he deserves an extended opportunity for the job. Running back Tyler Allgeier has also looked impressive and is coming off a 95-yard and touchdown performance last week. With the Buccaneers likely to sit or pull their starters early, pencil this in as the Falcons having more to prove and for them to be prepared to deliver. Atlanta 24, Tampa Bay 17.
Arizona Cardinals (+14) to cover vs San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have officially announced their presence as one of the premier Super Bowl contenders, even despite them being down to their third-string quarterback. They are riding a nine-game winning streak and have a chance at securing the top seed in the NFC with a win and an Eagles loss. On the other hand, Arizona has been a mess this season. They sit at 4-12 and are on a six-game losing streak. This is expected to be head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s final game with the Cardinals, and it also will be JJ Watt’s last game before retirement. Expect the 49ers to come out on top but for the Cardinals to put forth enough of a fight to cover the spread. San Francisco 31, Arizona 20.
Dallas Cowboys (-4) over Washington Commanders
The Cowboys are still hoping for a first-round bye in the postseason, but they will need a loss from the Eagles and 49ers for this to occur. Regardless, it starts with them getting a win over their NFC East rivals. The Washington Commanders come into the matchup with a 7-8-1 record and were eliminated from the playoff race last week. Washington benched Taylor Heinicke in favor of Carson Wentz, who struggled greatly with three interceptions contributing to the loss. It is unclear who will get the start, but the early indications are that Wentz will not be under center. The quarterback mess continues to plague the team, and count on them to be unable to keep up with Dallas’ scoring. Cowboys 24, Commanders 13.
Denver Broncos (+3) over Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers have clinched a spot in the playoffs and are locked in on their seed, so this is a matchup that could result in some stars being rested. The Broncos showed some signs of life in their first week since firing Nathaniel Hackett, as they narrowly lost 27-24 to the Chiefs. While Denver’s goals for the season are unattainable, they cannot afford to not leave it all on the field. As Los Angeles shifts its focus to the postseason, look for Denver to pull off the upset and end the season on a high note and set the tone for next season. Broncos 24, Chargers 17.
Seattle Seahawks (-6.5) over Los Angeles Rams
The Seahawks are competing with the Lions and Packers for the final playoff spot and will need help from these opposing teams to punch their ticket. The Rams have nothing to play for with their 5-11 record and have their focus shifted to next season. After a convincing 51-14 win over the Broncos in Week 16, they came crashing down to earth with a loss to the Chargers. These two teams faced off in Week 13, where the Seahawks beat Rams 27-23. While Seattle has struggled a bit to end the season, they have flashed enough this season and possess enough experience for them to get a win. Take the Seahawks to pick up the victory and keep their playoff hopes alive. Seahawks 27, Rams 20.
New York Giants (+14) to cover vs Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles will still be looking to lock down the number one seed despite coming off back-to-back losses. The Giants secured a convincing 38-10 win over the Colts in which they clinched their playoff spot. They will not be able to move up from their wild card spot, so this is a game they could afford to rest some players. Jalen Hurts looks set to make his return, and the Eagles will be happy to get him back following Gardner Minshew’s recent struggles. New York has lost eight straight games at Lincoln Financial Field, and the Eagles need a win for the sake of their confidence as well as locking up the top seed. Expect them to leave it all on the table to get the win and clinch the first-round playoff bye. Even still, the 14-point spread feels just a bit too large. Take the Giants to cover with the Eagles getting a 31-23 victory.
Sunday Night: Detroit Lions +4.5 to cover vs Green Bay Packers
While the Seahawks win could spoil the Lions chances, this could very well be a ‘win and you’re in’ scenario for both teams. Even if this isn’t the case, the Lions can be counted on the compete hard and would have no problem spoiling their divisional rival’s playoff hopes. Detroit is coming off a 41-10 victory over the Bears, while Green Bay extended their winning streak to four games. This is going to be a tight game, and laying the points is the safer bet. However, it is difficult to bet against Aaron Rodgers at this stage in the season, especially the way the team has been clicking of late. Look for Rodgers to extend his three-year playoff streak with a 27-24 win.