NFL picks, predictions against spread Week 18: Chargers rip Raiders; Rams edge 49ers; Bills match Patriots

The NFL expansion to week 18 means there is an additional opportunity to supplement our stats with game picks and predictions against the spread. Although Week 17 did not provide the results to meet our expectations, it is good that there is one more chance to do so just before the playoffs.

Last week’s slate can be tough, as some teams that have clinched playoff positions will be judicious of their regular staff. On top of that, having all teams play matchups within their own division adds a layer of familiarity and unpredictability.

Below, we dive into our latest and latest intrepid forecast for the 2021 season:

(Game odds reflect starting odds for week 18, courtesy of FanDuel)

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NFL Picks vs. Spread for Week 18

Sunday 8:20 pm ET, NBC

The Chargers have Justin Herbert back on the right track on offense, but just as importantly, their defense enjoyed a game of improvement after the Texans’ debacle in Week 16. The Raiders have struggled to get to this position. to steal a wild card spot. of rivals on the road. Derek Carr is still having trouble and Las Vegas will try to win on the ground. But Los Angeles is more multiple and versatile, and there is much more to exploit against the defense of the hosts.

Chargers win 34-27 and cover the spread.

  • NFC Game of the Week: 49ers at Rams (-5.5, 44.5 o / u)

Sunday 4:25 pm ET, Fox

The 49ers won the first game to stay warm in the series, but chances are high that first-round rookie Trey Lance should start in the rematch. Lance warmed up to make big plays with his arm and legs against the Texans, but facing the pressure and coverage of the Rams is different. The 49ers will also have limited success. On the other hand, Matthew Stafford will cut turnovers and destroy a secondary that isn’t built to slow down his wide receivers.

The Rams win 24-20 but can’t cover the spread.

  • Block of the week: Colts (-15.5, 44 o / u) over Jaguars

Sunday 1 pm ET, CBS

The Colts won’t waste their second chance to get down to business. The Jaguars pulled out as expected against the Patriots for us last week, so we’ll go down again that well given how desperate the visitors are for a second straight playoff berth. This shouldn’t be difficult to do, as Indianapolis can simply feed Jonathan Taylor often against a weakened running defense.

The Colts win 30-10 and cover the spread.

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  • Upset of the week: Falcons (+4.5, 40.5 o / u) over Saints

Sunday 1 pm ET, Fox

The Falcons have had a good first season with Arthur Smith as head coach. With playoff hopes dashed, they will focus on playing the Saints spoiler at home. This is sure to be another close game between the mutually hated rivals of Dirty South. New Orleans’ offense may be effective against Taysom HIll, but Atlanta will counter with a strong host effort from Matt Ryan. Younghoe Koo knocks out the winner of the game in a physical battle of attrition.

Falcons win 23-20

Saturday 4; 30 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Chiefs will do their best to push the Titans down to the No. 1 spot. The Broncos retired everywhere last week and Patrick Mahomes remains the outright owner of the team he made his first start against in his rookie final. . Mahomes is getting a lot of help from the running game and continues to expand his weaponry. Drew Lock is wasting his weapons and the running game has cooled off as well.

The bosses win 24-10 and cover the spread.

  • Cowboys (-3, 41.5 o / u) at Eagles

Saturday 8:15 pm ET, ESPN

The Cowboys need to be wary of their limited chances of finishing in the top two, which doesn’t mean much anyway, as the Packers have already secured the No. 1 seed, home-field advantage and the only goodbye to the playoffs. . They could face the Cardinals in a rematch of their Week 17 and there is also the possibility that they will play the Eagles in consecutive weeks. It would be smart if they let the key players on both sides rest to be in full force for the wild card round. The Eagles could play a bit more starters for tuning purposes, especially on defense. Flip a coin when you expect to see little of Dak Prescott or Jalen Hurts.

The Eagles win 20-17.

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  • Bears in Vikings (-3, 44.5 o / u)

Sunday 1 pm ET, Fox

The Bears have won two straight games while the Vikings raged against the Packers in Week 17. But since Chicago has already had some last few highs for Matt Nagy, Minnesota needs to finish on a good note at home for Mike Zimmer, just in case. . Kirk Cousins’ return to QB should help that cause with Justin Fields still uncertain to play on the other side. Look for Dalvin Cook and David Montgomery to trade big running games with Justin Jefferson making a difference in aerial games.

The Vikings win 31-24 and cover the difference.

  • Packers (-1, 44.5 o / u) at Lions

Sunday 1 pm ET, Fox

The Packers won’t take chances with a lot of players hit, including Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones and Davante Adams. Your defense might also need some healing. Jordan Love will have his second extended play action and will need to operate with a few other backups. Green Bay doesn’t want to wear down on defense either, setting up a double goodbye before the divisional playoffs. Detroit hasn’t given up any games all season for Dan Campbell and will take advantage of a rested opponent to end on a positive note. The Amon-Ra St. Brown’s team brings out the best of the Equanemious St. Brown’s team with lots of help from D’Andre Swift.

The lions win 23-20.

Sunday 1 pm ET, CBS

The Titans haven’t changed their identity without Derrick Henry. They are a little less explosive, but they are an excellent team, with a lot of physical career, with a defense that remains relentless and is receiving more help from a maligned secondary. They will run often again with former Texan D’Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard and Ryan Tannehill will continue to feed on better energy. The Texans don’t have enough defense or Davis Mills around to play spoilers.

The Titans win 24-14 but can’t make up the difference.

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  • Washington soccer team (-6.5, 38.5 o / u) at Giants

Sunday 1 pm ET, Fox

Washington is still pushing for wins with nothing to gain, a testament to Ron Rivera’s motivation. Taylor Heinicke has one more chance to be the undisputed starter and will build on a good spreading performance of the ball against the Eagles. The Giants didn’t try much to compete with the Bears last week, as their offense and defense have become shells for Joe Judge. Judge already seems to be thinking about how to train better in 2022.

Washington wins 17-14 but fails to cover the difference.

  • Steelers at Ravens (-4.5, 42 o / u)

Sunday 1 pm ET, CBS

The Steelers will try to sweep away their rivals to salvage something from a disappointing season. The Ravens have outperformed through all their major injuries to even being at .500, thanks to trainer John Harbaugh. With near misses against the Packers and Rams in mind, Baltimore will take down a familiar opponent at home to create good vibes for a more formidable season with Lamar Jackson in 2022.

The crows win 20-17 but fail to cover the spread.

  • Bengals at Browns (-3, 44 o / u)

Sunday 1 pm ET, CBS

The Bengals should avoid playing Joe Burrow after his right knee injury, knowing his seeded situation can’t change too much, assuming the Chiefs win on Saturday. Cincinnati did what it had to do to secure the division title in Week 17 and will use this no-nonsense intrastate showdown as a half set-up and half goodbye. The Browns, like the Ravens, will position themselves for better fortune next year with a much-needed good showing from Baker Mayfield.

Browns win 23-17 and cover the spread.

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  • Patriots (-6, 40 o / u) at Dolphins

Sunday 1 pm ET, CBS

The Patriots will remember how they lost a low-scoring defensive fight to the Dolphins in Week 1. The Dolphins pressed for a playoff spot after freefalling from that winning performance in New England, but that was quickly crushed in Tennessee. The Patriots will continue to mount the running game and an efficient Mac Jones to outmatch Tua Tagovailoa, pressuring the Bills to win as road favorites as well.

The Patriots win 27-16 and cover the spread.

  • Jets on invoices (-16.5, 45.5 o / u)

Sunday 1 pm ET, CBS

The Bills will respond well to the Patriots who pressure them again with a divisional split to the upstate. Josh Allen needs a tune-up before the playoffs, but Buffalo won’t shy away from a traditional red-hot running game either. The defense also needs to keep attacking and making great plays against Zach Wilson. There isn’t much to like at any level of the Jets’ offense.

The bills win 31-14 and cover the margin.

  • Panthers at Buccaneers (-8, 42.5 o / u)

Sunday 1 pm ET, Fox

The Panthers are starting Sam Darnold. The Buccaneers will continue to start Tom Brady, but he may not finish and, given all his injuries, they won’t face any of their hit players to better prepare for another Super Bowl run that begins in the wild-card round. The Bucs’ defense becomes a confidence-building game to show just how deep they can go as the offense gets more methodical with a rush-intense approach.

The Buccaneers win 27-20 but fail to cover the spread.

  • Seahawks at Cardinals (-6.5, 48 o / u)

Sunday 4:25 pm ET, Fox

The Seahawks came to life on offense thanks to the Lions showdown, perhaps making one last push for Russell Wilson to enjoy playing the scheme where an explosive running game begets explosive passing games. Wilson should stay on point with more help from Rashaad Penny to keep Seattle in their game, beating Kyler Murray well. But Arizona started to feel it again on both sides of the ball in Dallas and will make sure it keeps up with the way the Rams play against the 49ers.

The Cardinals win 24-20 but can’t make up the difference.

  • Week 17 record against the spread: 7-8
  • Week 17 record straight up: 12-3
  • ATS season: 140-113
  • Straight season: 172-82