NFL Week 18 Betting Odds & Picks: Back The Ravens To Cover Over Steelers And Big Ben

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Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger could be playing in his final game on Sunday. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire)

For NFL Week 18, we’re focusing only on games with playoff implications. The early slate kicks off at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT with four key games: Steelers-Ravens, Bengals-Browns, Titans-Texans, and Colts-Jags. Let’s get to the odds, betting analysis, and ATS pick for each game. All lines were current as of Friday morning.

PIT Steelers vs BAL Ravens Odds NFL Odds

NFL · Sun (1/9) @ 1:00pm ET

PIT Steelers at BAL Ravens
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland

BetMGM: Up to $1,000 risk-free bet.

The Ravens were 4.5-point favorites to open over the Steelers, but the number can be had at -4 at DraftKings.

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1, 7-9 ATS) at Baltimore Ravens (8-8, 8-8 ATS)

Line: Ravens -4 (41.5)

The skinny: This battle of AFC North rivals features two teams with only a sliver of a chance to advance to the postseason.

Facts: For starters, if Indianapolis topples Jacksonville, neither the Ravens nor the Steelers will be able to earn a playoff berth.

Pittsburgh is coming off an emotional 26-14 prime-time home win over Cleveland on Monday in Ben Roethlisberger’s farewell game at Heinz Field. But he averaged only 2.3 yards a drop-back, the worst rate for anyone this year in a victory.

Steelers LB T.J. Watt had 3.5 sacks in that game, and is 1.5 away from breaking the NFL record of 22.5 set by Michael Strahan 20 years ago (with the help of Brett Favre’s dive).

The Ravens are on a five-game losing streak that started five weeks ago in Pittsburgh when they fell 20-19 on a missed 2-point conversion try with 12 seconds left. The Steelers had seven sacks in that one.

Analysis: Indications are Ravens QB Lamar Jackson will miss his fourth straight game while wrestling with an ankle injury and yield again to Tyler Huntley. Although Huntley guided Baltimore to four TDs in a loss at Green Bay three weeks ago, the Ravens didn’t have an offensive touchdown in last week’s 20-19 home loss to the Rams.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has lost its past four on the road, falling behind by at least 17 points in all of them, and will likely be without its starting center and top receiver.

With the Steelers on a short week and likely exhausted emotionally, the Ravens should give the home fans something to cheer about against a hated rival.

Steelers at Ravens Pick

Ravens 26, Steelers 10

CIN Bengals vs CLE Browns Odds NFL Odds

NFL · Sun (1/9) @ 1:00pm ET

CIN Bengals at CLE Browns
FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio

Before last week’s games, the Browns were listed as a 1.5-point pick over the Bengals, but with key Cincinnati players not playing the number has ballooned to 6 across the board. There’s also a possibilty of rain.

Cincinnati Bengals (10-6, 9-7 ATS) at Cleveland Browns (7-9, 7-9 ATS)

FanDuel Line: Browns -6 (38)

The skinny: This will be a battle of backup QBs when AFC North champion Cincinnati faces a Browns team eliminated from playoff contention.

Facts: Bengals QB Joe Burrow, who has thrown for more than 900 yards the past two games, will sit out to rest a knee he injured in the waning moments of last week’s division-clinching win over Kansas City, 34-31.

Likely joining him on the sideline will be RB Joe Mixon, the league’s second-leading rusher (1,205), and DE Trey Hendrickson, fifth in the league with 14 sacks. Both have COVID issues.

Cleveland will be without its starting QB, too, with the beleaguered Baker Mayfield prepping for shoulder surgery.

Thus, Cincinnati backup QB Brandon Allen, who was 6-for-21 and a 0.0 passer rating in last year’s finale for the Bengals, faces Browns backup Case Keenum, who directed a 17-14 win over Denver in his lone start of 2021.

Analysis: There’s a big difference between the QBs, with Keenum having led Minnesota to the NFC title game four seasons ago and also having a starting gig in Denver.

As for Allen? No way. Not even if someone like Nathan Peterman was starting for the other team.

Bengals at Browns Pick

Browns 27, Bengals 7

TEN Titans vs HOU Texans Odds NFL Odds

NFL · Sun (1/9) @ 1:00pm ET

TEN Titans at HOU Texans
NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas

Tennessee was an 11-point pick over the Texans to open, and the line has dipped to 10 across the board.

Tennessee Titans (11-5, 10-6 ATS) at Houston Texans (4-12, 7-9 ATS)

PointsBet Line: Titans -10 (42.5)

The skinny: Assuming heavily favored Kansas City defeats struggling Denver on Saturday, the Titans will need a win here to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff bracket.

Facts: When the teams met in Week 11 in Nashville, the Texans were 22-13 winners thanks largely to a +5 turnover differential and a 13-yard edge in average starting field position (41-28).

It was also one of only two games all season with that turnover margin and one of just four times a team that had less than 200 yards of offense (190) prevailed. But Texans rookie QB Davis Mills has replaced Tyrod Taylor since then.

Titans quarterback QB Ryan Tannehill had a career-high four INTs in that meeting, but in his last four games has thrown just one.

Two-time defending rushing champ Derrick Henry, who hasn’t played since breaking a foot in Week 8, but still stands sixth on the rushing chart with 937 yards, has been activated off IR. He has looked lively in drills, but it’s uncertain whether the Titans will use him here or wait until the playoffs.

Analysis: Houston hasn’t quite been a pushover in recent weeks, winning two of three, including a 41-29 triumph over the L.A. Chargers. But L.A. was severely short-handed with the absence of five Pro Bowl players. Also, a 30-16 win over Jacksonville came in the wake of the chaos surrounding the firing of coach Urban Meyer.

Tennessee’s second-ranked rush defense should be able to dictate against a team that ranks last in that category on offense.

Also, Tennessee has an enormous amount of motivation to bash Houston and not let up on the gas, unlike other teams that won’t have a bye and might want to rest stars earlier than normal.

Titans at Texans Pick

Titans 28, Texans 10

IND Colts vs JAX Jaguars Odds NFL Odds

NFL · Sun (1/9) @ 1:00pm ET

IND Colts at JAX Jaguars
TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, Florida

The line opened with the Colts a 13.5-point pick over the Jaguars, but the line has jumped as high as Indy -15.5 at BetMGM.

Indianapolis Colts (9-7, 10-6 ATS) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14, 4-12 ATS)

Line: Colts -15.5 (44)

The skinny: Indianapolis looks to clinch a wild-card berth with a win against a Jaguars team on an eight-game losing streak.

Facts: Since the Jaguars beat the Colts in Jacksonville 27-20 in last season’s opener as an 8-point underdog, they’ve gone 2-28 (10-20 ATS).

Jags rookie QB Trevor Lawrence, the first pick in 2021 draft, has started all 16 games this season but has only 10 TDs passes. That’s one more than the Saints’ Trevor Siemian has had in five games.

The Colts had a chance to clinch a playoff berth last week and rest some guys this week, but they were stunned at home by the Raiders, 23-20, as an 8.5-point favorite.

Indy is tied for first in the league with 33 takeaways, and the Jaguars have the most giveaways with 29, yet in the team’s Week 10 meeting the Colts forced only one turnover in a 23-17 win as a 10.5-point choice.

Analysis: Indy will get its yards and points behind Tannehill and runaway rushing leader Jonathan Taylor, and LB Darius Leonard and Co. should dominate a Jaguars offense that has had back-to-back TD drives only once this season. By contrast, in Jacksonville’s 50-10 loss to New England last week, the Patriots had five straight TD marches.

The concern here, and with other heavy playoff-bound favorites, is that the Colts will yank their key guys and allow for a backdoor cover. The Jaguars might even play with a little jump in their step to give grumpy fans in the stands something to smile about.

Colts at Jaguars Pick

Colts 20, Jaguars 10

Also read: Cowboys vs. Eagles odds and pick | Chiefs vs. Broncos odds and pick | Saturday NFL Player Props And Anytime TD Scorers

About the Author

Bob Christ

Bob Christ, based in New Mexico, has been a gaming writer (primarily the NFL) for almost four decades, with his work appearing in publications/websites across North America. He's a big fan of the Arkansas Razorbacks, Philadelphia's Eagles and Phillies, and inexplicably the NHL's Winnipeg Jets.

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