NFL Week 18 Predictions

Not all of these games have relevance, but some have massive implications.

KC@DEN (4:30pm, ESPN, ABC): The Broncos will be playing with nothing to lose, but they’re still missing Teddy Bridgewater and are against a team that has beaten them in every matchup since 2015. That’s 12 consecutive losses by the Broncos against the Chiefs. I’m going KC 23, DEN 13

DAL@PHI (8:15pm, ESPN, ABC): In theory, this game matters. Dallas has an outside chance at the 2-seed if both the Rams and Buccaneers lose against the 49ers and Panthers, respectively. Philadelphia has less on the line, as they will get the 6th or 7th seed regardless, but maybe the idea of hurting their biggest rival in primetime will motivate the team, especially before the playoffs when teams like having momentum. Still, I’ll take DAL 24, PHI 20

GB@DET (1:00pm, FOX): Green Bay has the NFC’s 1-seed locked up, so I fully expect them to rest some starters against a feisty Lions team that plays much better at home than away. Jordan Love will get the majority of the snaps at QB for the Packers and will be entertaining, but I think the Lions are going to give the Packers their best shot while the Packers will not do the same for the Lions. DET 21, GB 17

IND@JAX (1:00pm, CBS): This game is huge for Indianapolis, and they will probably put down their woeful divisional neighbors (not rivals, this is not a rivalry). The Colts had difficulty doing this a couple weeks ago, but they have a lot more momentum now and are out for blood in this game, considering that it’s crucial for their playoff hopes. If they lose, after all, they could still miss the playoffs, and would need losses from LAC, NE, & PIT to get in as the 7-seed. If they win, they can potentially grab the 5-seed and clinch a playoff spot regardless of what else happens. Jacksonville wants the 1st pick in the draft, and probably don’t care very much about this game. IND 29, JAX 16

WAS@NYG (1:00pm, FOX): This game is not a relevant one, as both of these teams are out of the playoffs. The Giants have won 5 of their past 6 games against the Football Team, but this Giants team is one in freefall. Joe Judge is somehow likely returning as head coach next year, which does not inspire any confidence from, well, anyone other than the teams they’re playing. In spite of the way his team is playing, however, Judge decided to make several public comments this week about Washington, giving Ron Rivera plenty of bulletin board material. That, combined with the total lack of offense by the Giants, gives me an indication that the final score will be WAS 23, NYG 9

CHI@MIN (1:00pm, FOX): Had a few of these one-score games gone in Minnesota’s favor this year, we might be talking about an entirely different scenario. However, we live in this timeline, and both teams are out of the playoffs. Both coaches are on the hot seat, but the Bears have won their past two games, albeit against the Seahawks and Giants. The Vikes just got done getting shredded by the Packers after starting Sean Mannion at QB over rookie Kellen Mond, which has drawn some criticism. They’ll have Kirk Cousins back this week though, so I’ll pick MIN 23, CHI 21

CIN@CLE (1:00pm, CBS): Cincinnati is resting its starters against the Browns. Cincy resting its starters is good for Cleveland. Cleveland is resting Baker Mayfield. This is also good for Cleveland. I have Cleveland winning this game, probably by a lot, because the Bengals don’t care about this game. They’re happy to stay at the 4-seed and face whoever shows up to their stadium as the 5-seed. Give me CLE 31, CIN 17

TEN@HOU (1:00pm, CBS): Tennessee is fighting to keep the 1-seed and give Derrick Henry just a bit more time before he has to carry the load. This team is having a lot of players come off of injured reserve, and are one of the few relatively healthy teams going into the playoffs. Titans probably get a bit of a scare early on before pulling away in the 2nd half. TEN 31, HOU 21

PIT@BAL (1:00pm, CBS): Baltimore has lost a lot of games recently, but they’ve stayed in all of them (well, all of them but the game against CIN). I mean, 4 out of their last 5 losses have been by 2 points or less (PIT, CLE, GB, LAR). I think this Ravens team has been unlucky this season and they look to end the season strong against a limited Steelers team. Both of these teams have a shot at a wild card spot if they win, so there are stakes here. It’s close, but the Steelers are an awful road team, so I’ll take BAL 20, PIT 16

NYJ@BUF (4:25pm, CBS): The Jets are a tough team at home, but on the road they are lesser. Buffalo, meanwhile, is gearing up for a potential deep playoff run. Last time they played, Buffalo won 45–17 at Metlife. Buffalo has a shot at the 2-seed if KC loses at DEN, giving us some extra stakes, but Buffalo will play at least 1 home game regardless if they win this game. Give me BUF 41, NYJ 20

SF@LAR (4:25pm, FOX): The Rams are a good football team that has finally figured out how to win messy games on the road, evidenced by their recent close wins on the road: Won by 7 points at Arizona, Won by 7 points at Minnesota, won by 1 point at Baltimore. Their only home game in that stretch was against Seattle, who they beat by 10 on a Tuesday night. This Rams team has faced a lot of adversity, and they are about to face their biggest piece of it: the team that has beaten them in their last 5 matchups. The 49ers are starting Tre Lance, and one can figure that they’ll be punishing the Rams on the ground like they did in their last matchup, a 31–10 SF victory. I like what the Rams are doing, but the 49ers are their kryptonite. I’ll take a much closer game than the last, SF 27, LAR 24

SEA@ARI (4:25pm, FOX): Arizona has finally found its footing again. It helps that Center Rodney Hudson returned last week, putting Arizona at 9–2 in games when Hudson starts and 2–3 in games he hasn’t started. Seattle might be playing hard for Russell Wilson, but Arizona is playing for the division. ARI 34, SEA 24

CAR@TB (4:25pm, FOX): Tampa Bay is very, very injured, but this Carolina team is about as much of an obstacle as it is a speed bump. TB is fighting for the 2-seed, CAR can’t find their fight. TB dispatched them two weeks ago by a score of 32–6, and I don’t expect this game to be any more exciting. TB 24, CAR 9

NE@MIA (4:25pm, CBS): Miami has no shot of making it to the playoffs anymore, but they would love to put a dent in New England’s ambitions. The Dolphins are 3 for their last 4 home games against the Patriots. Its defense is ferocious, and I expect them to be able to get home against Mac Jones. However, New England is a similar team and knows that Miami completely lacks a run game and runs a fairly limited offense behind Tua Tagovailoa. I’ve got NE 16, MIA 13

NO@ATL (4:25pm, FOX): New Orleans would love to win this game and sneak into the playoffs, and Atlanta would love to knock their hated rival out of playoff contention. The Saints’ d-line is devastating and I expect them to make life difficult for Matt Ryan. Taysom Hill is starting at QB for the Saints, likely a better option than Trevor Siemian, who started for New Orleans in its 2-point loss to Atlanta earlier in the season. I’ve got NO 24, ATL 23

LAC@LV (8:20pm, NBC): The winner goes on, the loser is eliminated. By all metrics, this is a playoff game. The two could both get in if the Colts lose against the Jags assuming they can tie it, but neither of these teams plan on doing that against its divisional rival. The Chargers likely get Derwin James back, who helped LAC win its last matchup with LV by a score of 28–14 with an interception and 3 tackles. In recent weeks, Vegas has knocked off CLE, DEN, and IND, all decent teams, but has not faced a good passing attack since getting its doors blown off by Kansas City 48–9. They also allowed 32 points from the Bengals and 33 points from the Cowboys. This Chargers team has a fantastic passing attack, and the Raiders will need to keep up. That might not seem too difficult on paper, with the Chargers having one of the NFL’s worst defenses, but this team’s ceiling is very high, despite being an inconsistent team. Ultimately, I’ve got LAC 36, LV 27, and watch out for these Chargers in the playoffs, because they can upset anybody.

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