NFL Week 18 Best Bets
January 6, 2022
We are looking to keep rolling on our NFL Week 18 betting picks and player prop picks. You will find the best picks and predictions for Week 18 below.
The first year of the expanded NFL schedule is ending somewhat tragically. Granted, it is just a one year sample size, but the result screams that the added week was unnecessary. With the already expanded playoff field in place, 11 of the 14 playoff teams are already decided. For the other four slots, four teams are in “win and in” scenarios.
In the NFC, the 49ers secure a playoff berth with a win against the Rams. If they lose, the Saints take that playoff spot with a win. That's it. That is the extent of the dramatics in terms of playoff life in the NFC.
The AFC is slightly more complicated, but not much. The Colts secure a playoff spot with a win over the lowly Jaguars. Assuming that likely event takes place, the last playoff spot comes down to the Sunday Night game, which is the last game of the season. The Chargers face the Raiders with the winner receiving the last playoff spot.
The real problem with Week 18 from a betting perspective is the amount of teams with nothing to play for. We may or may not get news in terms of who will play throughout the week in those games. The games where we know teams will play to win have some truly excessively high point spreads.
With the unknown on many teams and the added extremely high point spreads, there are only two betting plays I deem worthy this week. Let's get to them.
Be sure to check out all of our NFL Picks and Predictions.
Los Angeles Rams -4.5 vs San Francisco 49ers
✅ The Rams are on a five game winning streak. They have clinched a playoff spot and would clinch the division and a first round home game with a win on Sunday. That said, they have not played very well during this win streak. Their wins have been mostly ugly and the offense has been uneven at best. Two of their last three wins have come while putting just 20 points on the scoreboard against the highly exploitable Ravens and Seahawks.
✅ The 49ers are in a true must win spot. If they win, they lock themselves into a playoff spot. If they lose, they risk the Saints usurping their playoff spot. The Saints are 4.5 point favorites in Atlanta and highly likely to win, so the 49ers will be treating this game as a true elimination game.
✅ The 49ers owned the first matchup with the Rams. Kyle Shanahan has found success against McVay in the past, and that has a high degree of likelihood to continue. The 31-10 49ers win in the first matchup featured only Cooper Kupp finding success for the Rams offense. While Kupp will get his regardless, the 49ers might have a knack for stopping the rest of the offense. The 49ers also have their most unsung offensive weapon back in the fold. When Eli Mitchell is in the backfield, the offense moves far better and more consistently. He will be a huge key in this matchup.
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Los Angeles Chargers -3 vs Las Vegas Raiders
✅ The Raiders having a true shot at clinching a playoff spot is nothing short of cringeworthy. Their offense is truly among the worst in the league, and they have lucked into scheduling based wins down the stretch to be in this position. Their three game win streak has the glaring asterisks of the Browns and Broncos, both of those teams being in shambles. The Raiders won both of those games despite scoring a combined 33 points.
✅ Speaking of scoring futility, it is apparent Jon Gruden was more important to the franchise than we gave any credit for. In the nine games since the Gruden controversy and departure, the Raiders offense has been consistently inept. The team has failed to top 17 points scored in a whopping nine of those games. They are 4-5 in that span with scheduling gifts accounting for half of the wins. They are not equipped to outscore a Chargers team in this true elimination game for both teams.
✅ The Chargers are frankly the better team, and had great success in the first meeting between these teams. The 28-14 Chargers win was highlighted by the run game. The Chargers were able to run the ball with great success and the Raiders were not. This will be a huge key in this matchup because it is the run game that has hindered the Chargers defense this season. If they are able to even slow the Raiders usually inept ground attack, they should cruise to an easy win. Take the Chargers to strengthen the postseason field instead of the Raiders weakening it.
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