It's the last full slate of the NFL season so let's celebrate with picking some winners.
Our favorite moneyline picks for Sunday's Week 18 slate will focus on the most meaningful games to some of the more inconsequential on the slate. We are targeting the Buccaneers chances to clinch an NFC South title as well as the biggest game on the slate, the Sunday Night showdown for the AFC East between the Bills and Dolphins.
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Best Bets for NFL Week 18
- Buccaneers (-225) vs. Panthers
- Falcons (+160) vs. Saints
- Broncos (+125) vs. Raiders
Buccaneers vs. Panthers Prediction and Pick
While this may be a lot of points for the Bucs to cover on the road, I believe they are in line to simply win the game.
The Panthers defense has been a disaster all season, and it's been more of the same since the team's met in Week 13. Carolina is 25th in EPA/Dropback since Week 14, which is a big issue against the Buccaneers, who is second in that same metric on offense.
Mayfield may be nursing a rib injury, but the Bucs offense has hit another gear down the stretch and will be able to outpace the Panthers offense that is still looking for answers as the worst team in the league.
Sure, pride is on the line for the Panthers, but the team has been a disaster all season and are playing for next year. The Bucs get it done on the road.
Falcons vs. Saints Prediction and Pick
Our Iain MacMillian is taking a stand and banking on the Falcons to get it done on the road as considerable underdogs. Here's what he had to say in his weekly column, the Road to 272:
You can accuse me of being a Falcons homer all you want, but I'm going down with the ship and I'm making them my upset pick of the week. If they win and the Buccaneers lose to the Panthers, they'll be NFC South champions.
Sure, the Falcons can be infuriating to bet on, but if we take our emotions and the "eye test" out of it, there are arguments that could be made they're the better overall team compared to the Saints. They outrank them in Net Yards per Play, +0.2 compared to -0.1, and they beat them in their Week 12 matchup by a score of 24-15. Their defense also outranks the Saints' defense by a few metrics like opponent success rate and opponent yards per play.
Even if you want to make the claim the Saints are the superior team, are they 3.5 points better? I don't think so.
There's value on Atlanta right now when nobody in the world believes in them. I'll take them to win this game outright in New Orleans.
Broncos vs. Raiders Prediction and Pick
This is a meaningless game, but Sean Payton seems to like Jarrett Stidham at quarterback for Denver.
Don’t be surprised if the Denver defense – which forces a ton of turnovers – makes things tough on Aidan O’Connell. The Raiders have 24 turnovers this season, and came up short in Indy last week.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.
Track Reed's bets here!