Your curated list of wagers for Week 18 of the NFL season, from moneylines and player props to overlooked underdogs.
One of the strangest betting seasons ever took a much darker turn Monday evening as a player in our over/under needed nine minutes of resuscitation on the field to save his life. Fortunately, Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin is progressing miraculously well in his recovery — but the horrifying incident during the Bills-Bengals game on Jan. 2 served as a reminder that there’s a lot out there that’s a whole lot bigger than sports.
With the mood around the league absolutely surging given the good news regarding Hamlin’s ever-improving condition, let’s appreciate the fact that we can approach the final regular season slate of the campaign and determine some NFL Week 18 best bets.
NFL Week 18 Best Bets Overview
Best Over/Under Bet of Week 18
- Over/Under: 38
Really, the schedule-makers could not have done a better job planning the worst possible matchup to conclude the slate.
On one side, you’ve got the hapless Houston Texans, owners of the NFL’s worst record. On the other, it’s a fellow division resident, the Indianapolis Colts, who have probably had an even more disappointing season, notching just four wins entering Week 18 even though they were the AFC South favorites coming into the campaign.
Nothing’s really gone right for either side. Offense — or lack thereof — has been a big chunk of the downfall for both these teams, and if not for the Denver Broncos, your two lowest-scoring clubs in the league are right here, striding in while each averaging a puny 16.1 points per week.
Indy’s messy quarterback situation has been much-publicized and this is clearly the worst version of it, as Sam Ehlinger will be in the saddle. In his two lone starts earlier this season, the second-year signal-caller wasn’t terrible — but he didn’t do much either, failing to throw a touchdown pass in those games. The Colts managed only 19 points collectively.
While Houston has allowed more than 24 points on a weekly basis, its pass defense has been respectable, with opponents chucking for 209.8 yards through the air. That’s 12th-lowest among all 32 teams. They’ll get their cracks at Ehlinger, too, given the Colts o-line has yielded more sacks than all but one team (Broncos).
The 10th-ranked passing D will be in action as well. Yes, Indianapolis is dealing with injuries on this side of the ball but there’s still enough healthy talent here to put forth a quality showing. Hopefully, Stephon Gilmore — still one of the game’s best corners — will bypass his questionable tag and play in the finale.
It’s not like the Texans trot out some scary group on offense anyway. No one in the league is plating fewer total yards than this cellar dweller (278.8), and with an odd pairing of Davis Mills and Jeff Driskel being deployed at QB throughout games, they’ll likely continue their minimal gains.
When these two division rivals met to commence the season in Week 1, the result was a comical 20-20 tie that cashed under bets. Both encounters last year also produced wins for the low side. I anticipate a similar resolution in this one.
A pair of bottom feeders simply finishing out a shoe that supplied miserable seasons for both of them provides the nucleus for an ugly, passive affair. With the juice being tilted toward +100 on the under, I’m opting to buy a couple of points for that key number of 40. Such a decision protects us in the event of a 23-17 score.
The Pick: UNDER 40 (-146)
Best Spread Bet of Week 18
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
- Spread: Lions +4.5/Packers -4.5
Ironically, both occurrences took place in back-to-back campaigns — 2017 and 2018 — although a lot of that had to do with Rodgers either barely playing (one quarter in completely meaningless ‘18 finale) or not playing at all (both ‘17 matchups).
Detroit took the first meeting this year in November — a revolting 15-9 victory — putting them in the rare position of going unbeaten opposite what is essentially their big brothers. Far more importantly, this next bout will determine a playoff berth.
Well, that’s if the Seahawks lose in the 4 p.m. window, in which case the Lions would still be alive for a postseason bid. If Seattle beats the Rams, however, that would make this contest worthless for Dan Campbell’s club, who would then be relegated to the role of playoff spoiler.
Think about it: A Seahawks ‘W’ could cause one of the biggest emotional downward swings for a team in recent history. The Lions have done a real commendable job battling back from a 1-6 start to even be in this position; but if a playoff life is suddenly swooped from right under them before even taking the field for their season finale, it becomes that much more challenging surviving the predicament that is Lambeau in January.
Even if Seattle does fall — thus making this a win-or-go-home scenario for both teams — taking the Pack here is the only logical decision to make in regards to the spread. How could you go against Aaron Rodgers after all the adversity Green Bay dealt with during their earlier struggles?
Obviously, Rodgers is still one of the elite QBs around. In a must-win spot, he’s garnering a familiar opponent that he’s pulverized for quite some time. Just look at Rodgers’ 18-7 record across these 25 encounters, in which he’s etched a 105.8 passer rating and a 53-11 TD/INT ratio.
Yeah, I’m not squaring off with that. Meanwhile, the weather could be as big a difference as any, with frigid temperatures being anticipated in the weather forecast.
We already know Rodgers is experienced in these terrestrial elements — and been successful — and we can also use the limited experience from his counterpart, Jared Goff, in such conditions as an extra tool to help base our bet on. Not only that, Goff hasn’t looked good at all in the cold.
Only a few games but still potentially telling. After all, Goff began his career in St. Louis (indoors) before the franchise relocated to Los Angeles (warm weather). Now in Detroit, he’s playing mostly indoors again.
The Lions deserve a ton of credit for the run they’ve been on the second half of the season and I hope Campbell gets ample Coach of the Year votes. But this is where the ride ends — as it has for so many others before them in the frozen tundra.
The Pick: PACKERS-4 (-125)
Best Teaser Bet (2-team, 7 points) of Week 18
The Kansas City Chiefs enter Week 18 in the driver’s seat to claim the AFC’s No. 1 seed for the postseason. Beating the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday earns them that prize, which includes a scrumptious first-round bye.
Even if this game didn’t carry significant importance, the Chiefs would surely be a reliable bet anyway to simply pull out a win — even more so against this version of the Silver and Black. MVP frontrunner Patrick Mahomes, who is currently -1800 for the award, is 8-1 for his career against this particular opponent, and Saturday’s matchup will arguably be his easiest one to date in this division rivalry.
That’s because Derek Carr — the man responsible for that lone Raiders win two years ago — was benched and sent home by the team in a gross miscarriage of gridiron justice. Jarrett Stidham, come on down!
Yes, the former New England Patriot did play well in his first start last week against an upper-echelon 49ers defense. Given what Stidham exhibited over a larger sample during his time under Bill Belichick, though, it should be pretty clear that he’s not a long-term fit.
It’s hard envisioning Mahomes letting this massive opportunity slip away. His incredible track record (113.1 passer rating, 26-3 TD/INT ratio) when seeing this opponent is worth backing as well. Oh, and let’s not forget he’s chasing Peyton Manning’s NFL record for most passing yards in a season.
For the other end of this teaser, we are rolling with a Minnesota Vikings squad one day later that is — without question — easily the most disrespected 12-win team in history.
Yeah, yeah, negative-point differential. Needing to win games close and/or ugly. Whatever. This is still a division winner that boasts one of the best offenses in the league.
Most importantly, look at the opposition this week… Nathan Peterman is back.
Who knows if this is the former fifth-round draft pick’s final NFL start? It’s a miracle Peterman is even getting the nod in this series finale given how bad he’s been. Look no further than the 33.2 passer rating (!!!) he’s posted as a pro.
I mean, that’s all that really needs to be said. Additionally, the opposing Chicago Bears possess one of the worst pass defenses in the league, and with Justin Jefferson also still pursuing the NFL’s single-season receiving yards record, Minnesota might just go for all the style points and deposit a crooked number on the scoreboard here.
Best Prop Bet of Week 18
Too much uncertainty tied to most of these Week 18 games means avoiding a player prop bet this week is not a bad idea
Extra Best Over/Under Bet of Week 18
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
- Over/Under: 40.5
It’s the final game of the season for the 12-4 49ers and there’s still a prize to nab.
A San Francisco victory coupled with an (unexpected) Eagles loss means the Niners earn the NFC’s No. 1 seed, and thus meaning they get a first-round bye.
Their elite defense is obviously aware of this, and especially after a surprise off showing last week versus a backup QB in Vegas, I expect a shutdown performance.
Pulling off such a feat shouldn’t come too hard for one of the league’s best defensive units. David Blough will be starting for the Cardinals and he’s weak.
Along with that, DeAndre Hopkins (knee) is out, meaning Arizona is kinda in a tough spot leaning on a third-string quarterback.
No doubts should exist that the 49ers will be strong on D — as this team always is.
As for the Cards defense, we shall emphasize that this is J.J. Watts’ final battle in the NFL. If that doesn’t inspire an already-decent group, I don’t know what will. Buy the hook for the 24-17 possibility.
The Pick: UNDER 41 (-120)
NFL Best Bets Record for the 2022 Season
- Over/Unders: “7-9“ (BUF-CIN Over voided)
- Spreads: 6-6-2
- Teasers: “5-9-1“
- Props: “10-10“
- Overall Record*: “28-34-3,” -17.48 units
*Each over/under is graded to win 2 units; everything else for 1 unit
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