Nate Previews Every NFL Game for Week 18
NATE PREVIEWS EVERY NFL GAME FOR WEEK 18 – We’re at the end of the NFL season and there’s still plenty of value to be had with some of these games. Check out my preview of every NFL game for week 18 below.
Hey, while you’re at it, head on over to the Godzilla Wins Daily Picks page and see our staff picks for this week.
Steelers at Ravens (+3.5, o/u 35)
Baltimore should be resting most of its starters, including potential MVP Lamar Jackson.
That means Tyler Huntley will be taking snaps in a basically meaningless game for Baltimore. Pittsburgh is looking to ride the momentum that Mason Rudolph has provided off the bench for them as they come in looking to sneak into the playoffs after winning two straight.
Huntley is a very capable backup and if Baltimore had any motivation to win whatsoever, I suspect this line would be much different, even with Huntley at quarterback.
For the Steelers, I’m trying not to put to much weight into a two-game sample after we’ve experienced Browning Mania, the Tommy DeVito Era, Joshua Dobbs Renaissance, and the Nick Mullens Experiment. All of those went well for a brief moment, until the wheels came off. I’m ready to put Mason Rudolph into that group after Saturday.
Weird betting stat: teams in must-win scenarios in the final week of the season are 18-28 against the spread when playing teams with no motivation to win.
Baltimore is simply a better, hotter team. They aren’t going to let the Steelers sneak into the playoffs without putting up a little bit of a fight.
BEST BET: Ravens +3.5
Texans at Colts (+1.5, o/u 47.5)
My AFC South futures are still alive with the Texans! Let’s ride!
The winner of this will snag a Wild Card spot in the AFC, and if the Jags lose then the AFC South title wil belong to the worst-to-first Texans.
The Texans have hit the wall in terms of offense, largely due to a myriad of injuries at wide receiver and along the offensive line.
The good news for them is that the Colts defense is pretty soft. The stats are ok, but they’re inflated because they’ve played a bunch of garbage quarterbacks. C.J. Stroud has proven himself to be anything but garbage.
I don’t trust Gardner Minshew to pull a rabbit out of his hat to win this game. The Texans will force him to beat them with his arm, and that’s a recipe for disaster.
BEST BET: Texans -1.5
Buccaneers at Panthers (+4.5, o/u 38)
The Panthers aren’t a very good team. They have lost two in a row following a last-second field goal in week 15. The amount of time they’ve spent leading any game this season is just downright hilarious.
The Bucs aren’t setting the world on fire, but a win here will put them atop the NFC South and punch their ticket to the postseason.
This isn’t really a bet on the Panthers who have looked horrible, so much as the fact that I can’t really justify laying 4.5 points with a Tampa Bay team that has spent much of the season with a horseshoe firmly in their ass.
I was going to make this a lean, but the more I think about it, the more I think Carolina ruins a surprising Tampa Bay season.
PICK: Carolina +4.5
Jaguars at Titans (+5, o/u 39.5)
I’m way too locked in on the Texans winning the AFC South to even consider Jacksonville winning this game. This line is almost certainly inflated due to the return of a hobbled Lawrence and the fact that the Jags are in a must-win spot.
Tennessee hasn’t been great this season, but they’ve been relatively competitive lately even in their losses. They’ve had the lead at some point in the 4th quarter in five of their last six games, so it’s not like teams are just walking over them.
Jacksonville can’t run the ball at all right now and that’s a lot to put on Trevor Lawrence given that he’s dealt with a high ankle sprain, concussion, and sprained A.C. joint in his throwing shoulder. This is a fun Mike Vrabel spot because you know he’ll get his underdog team primed to pull off the upset.
BEST BET: Titans +5
Vikings at Lions (-3.5, o/u 45.5)
The Vikings briefly tried Jaren Hall at quarterback last week and it didn’t go well. He was replaced at halftime by Nick Mullens who will be getting the start once again. Detroit is coming off a controversial loss to the Cowboys in a very competitive game.
The plan for the Lions is to at least put the starters out there for a little while since they can improve their seeding with a little help. If it doesn’t look like help is coming in the second half, Dan Campbell could bench his starters to prevent injuries and unnecessary fatigue.
The Vikings have a ton of familiarity with the Lions, so I’m sure they’ll be ready for whatever Jared Goff and Co. may throw at them for as long as the starters are in.
This feels like a backdoor cover, at worst, and a potential outright Minnesota win.
PICK: Vikings +3.5
Falcons at Saints (-3.5, o/u 42)
Unbelievably, these two teams are playing for the NFC South crown if the Buccaneers lose to Carolina.
I sort of hate the Saints. There are few teams, aside from the Chargers, who seem to do less with their talent. Their roster is ancient, but on paper they still look like the should be better.
Derek Carr has basically been his regular old self in the Big Easy which has been terrible news for the fanbase.
Both of these teams played terrible schedules and it’s difficult to get a good read on how mediocre or bad they are. My money is that the Saints aren’t in quite the same disastrous moment organizationally as the Falcons.
LEAN: Saints -3.5
Browns at Bengals (-7, o/u 37.5)
Joe Flacco will be resting his tired and old body this week since the Browns have nothing to play for after clinching a playoff spot.
Aside from Flacco and the “major” offensive players on offense sitting this on out, quite a bit of the elite defense has landed on the injury report in the last few weeks. I suspect pretty much everyone will get a head start on resting up for the playoffs.
I doubt we see much production from the Browns on either side of the ball. The Bengals are already out of the playoffs so they’ll just be going through the motions here.
I’d expect a conservative gameplan from both teams as they look to close the season with a purely meaningless game.
LEAN: UNDER 37.5
Jets at Patriots (-2, o/u 30.5)
The Jets have once again decided against using Zach Wilson’s boyish good looks and childish charm to try and help them win a football game. He’s probably played his last game for this proud New Jersey-based franchise.
I think Belichick may be slightly more motivated to close out the season with a win, but that’s only because the Jets have been looking forward to next season since about five minutes into their first game.
I don’t hate the over if you don’t want to take a side. This total is hilariously low because the offenses are just so bad. My concern if you’re an under bettor is that they’re so bad they may create some easy scoring opportunities via turnovers.
LEAN: Patriots ML
Bears at Packers (-3, o/u 44)
LEAN: Bears -3
Eagles at Giants (+5, o/u 42)
LEAN: OVER 42 and Giants +5
Cowboys at Commanders (+13, o/u 46)
Seahawks at Cardinals (+2.5, o/u 48)
Rams at 49ers (-4, o/u 41)
LEAN: Rams +4 and UNDER 41
Chiefs at Chargers (-3.5, o/u 35)
Broncos at Raiders (-3, o/u 38)
LEAN: UNDER 38 and Broncos +3
Bills at Dolphins (+3, o/u 49.5)
BEST BET: UNDER 49.5