The NFL regular season concludes this weekend with all 32 teams taking to the field Saturday or Sunday. Most of the playoff positions have already been decided, but one wild card remains vacant in both conferences and a few divisions remain in flux.
In our NFL Week 18 betting picks and predictions, we look at the best bets to make in three of the most important games of the regular season’s final weekend.
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-6.5) Pick
Halfway through the season, it appeared the Titans would run away with the AFC South for the third consecutive year. After starting the year 7-3, Tennessee has dropped six-straight games. The Jaguars season has been the opposite, starting with an abysmal 2-6 record before rattling off wins in six of their last eight.
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The AFC South division is on the line when the two teams face off on Saturday night. With momentum on their side, one of our best bets for NFL Week 18 is the Jags as a touchdown favorite.
Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence is becoming a star in his sophomore season and proving why the former No. 1 pick was such a highly-touted prospect. Despite some struggles early in the year, Lawrence is knocking on the door of a 4,000-yard passing season. He’s thrown 24 touchdown passes to just eight interceptions with a 66.5% completion rate.
The Titans season has gone downhill quickly, losing to the Cowboys 27-13 last week. They still have hopes for the postseason — a win and they’re in — but will do so with Joshua Dobbs commanding the quarterback position on offense.
Jacksonville came away with the victory in the first of the team’s two meetings this year. The Jags won 36-22 behind one of Lawrence’s best games as a pro. The second-year quarterback threw for 368 yards and three touchdown passes for a 121.9 rating.
Tennessee struggled on offense throughout much of the season but the loss of quarterback Ryan Tannehill in Week 15 was the biggest turning point. The Titans are averaging the third-fewest yards per game and their 17.6 points per game is the league’s fifth-worst.
The Titans have struggled to get all-pro running back Derrick Henry going in recent weeks. It won’t get any easier this week against a Jaguars defense that ranks among the top ten in shutting down the run.
Over their last six games, the Titans have gone just 0-5-1 against the spread (ATS) whereas the Jags have gone 5-1. With the playoffs on the line, it’s hard not to roll with the hot team that has all the momentum. In one of our best NFL Week 18 picks, take the Jags to cover and keep their season alive.
New York Giants (+14) at Philadelphia Eagles Pick
For years, the NFC East was criticized as one of the league’s weakest divisions. The script has been flipped this season with three teams punching their tickets to the postseason — and Washington was close to making it all four. The Giants, firmly locked into the sixth seed, head down I-95 to take on rival Philadelphia to close out the regular season.
There’s a lot of uncertainty in this matchup at some key positions, including Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. Giants head coach Brian Daboll has been coy on whether he’ll rest any starters knowing that their playoff positioning is locked in stone.
Generally, it’s best to avoid games with such uncertainty, but even with a lot of question marks surrounding the game, 14 is too much for a gritty New York team that has played tough all season.
New York has only lost by more than 14 points twice this year — most recently against the Eagles. The Giants lost the first matchup, 48-22, which featured three Jalen Hurts touchdowns. One of our best bets of Week 18, we like the Giants to keep it close — especially if Hurts isn’t 100% healthy.
Without Jalen Hurts in the lineup, the Eagles have dropped two straight. Their once-firm grip on the No. 1 seed is now in jeopardy. A win on Sunday secures a bye and home-field advantage, but a loss coupled with a Cowboys win would drop them out of the division lead and into a wildcard spot.
The expectation is that Hurts may play this week — and that’s already baked into the spread — but the biggest difference between the first matchup and this matchup is offensive linemen Lane Johnson. The four-time Pro Bowler was instrumental to the Eagles’ offensive success this season and although he’s postponed his surgery to play in the postseason, don’t expect to see him on the field this week.
Although the Giants technically don’t have anything to play for seeding-wise, head coach Brian Daboll and company certainly want to enter the postseason off a win over division rival Philly.
The Giants are 9-2 ATS this season as an underdog, and two touchdowns are too much for a questionable Eagles team to cover. In our Week 18 NFL predictions, we like the Giants to keep it close, but ultimately lose 24-16.
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-4.5) Pick
Sometimes, it doesn’t always matter how you start the season — it’s how you finish. Despite looking dead in the water in the middle of the year, the Packers and Lions turned around their seasons and are playing for a wildcard berth in their final game of the year.
The Minnesota Vikings have already claimed the NFC North crown, but both the Lions and Packers have life heading into the finale — a bleak prospect just months ago. One of our best bets of NFL Week 18, we like the Packers to cover and take the seventh seed on Sunday night.
Green Bay was just 4-8 before rattling off four straight victories and they do not need any help to make the playoffs: just win and they’re in. The Packers knocked off rival Minnesota last week, 41-17, and are averaging 29.8 points per game in their winning streak.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell’s future with the team looked to be in doubt after the team started the season 1-6. A 15-9 win over the Packers in Week 8 was the turning point for Detroit and the Lions have gone 6-2 after that divisional win. To make the playoffs, however, they’ll need a win over Green Bay and a Seattle loss earlier Saturday. If Seattle defeats the Rams on Sunday afternoon, the Lions will already be eliminated by the time of kickoff. The spread could move up to a touchdown should that happen, although Campbell and the Lions would likely still play hard to spoil their rival’s playoff dreams.
Green Bay has the stronger roster and the edge at the sport’s most important position. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers had the fifth-shortest odds to hoist the Lombardi before the season, and they’re finally playing up to their potential.
Both teams have been covering at an impressive rate recently, with the Lions 3-1 ATS and the Packers 4-0 ATS in their last four games. In our Week 18 NFL predictions, we like the experience and talent of Green Bay to prevail. We have the Packers winning 27-20 and taking the last wildcard seed.