Somehow, the end of the 23/24 NFL regular season is already upon us, with the final week of matchups right around the corner. The playoff picture is almost complete, but while some teams already have their spot secured, others are still fighting for a shot at the postseason.
This comes with plenty of added complications, from sitting starters to tanking for a better draft pick, and it only makes betting more difficult than ever. But that’s where we come in...
We’ve done all the research for the Week 18 schedule and picked our favourite spread bets, while providing the best possible odds you can find on the market.
Eagles (-2.5) @ Giants
The Eagles have had a tough run the last few weeks, with 4 losses in their last 5 games to the 49ers, Cowboys, Seahawks and most surprisingly, the Cardinals. But the one win during that stretch came vs the Giants in Week 16, with a 33-25 scoreline.
As much as Brian Daboll would love to cash in on Philly’s rocky run, they’re now eliminated from playoff contention and should really focus on improving their spot in the draft. Whether they want to pick up a new signal caller to replace Daniel Jones next season or give him more weapons when he returns, who knows. But one thing is for sure… If there’s a team that should tank this weekend, it’s the New York Giants.
Meanwhile, the Eagles may have their playoff spot confirmed, but their seed is yet to be decided. Depending on Sunday’s results, they could end up with the 2nd, 3rd or 5th seed in the NFC. If the Eagles win and the Cowboys lose, then they'll top the NFC East. So, winning this weekend will only help their chances of hosting the Wild Card round, and with a 6-2 record at Lincoln Financial Field, I’m sure Nick Sirianni won’t be taking this game lightly.
In short, the Eagles have plenty to play for (including pride and confidence) and the Giants will only benefit from losing. Given the scoreline of their recent clash, I doubt Philly will have any issue winning by a field goal and covering this spread.
Cowboys (-6.5) @ Commanders
The Cowboys are also playing for a 2nd, 3rd or 5th seed in the NFC and beating the Commanders’ 29th ranked pass defense is the only thing left to do.
Dak Prescott has been on fire this season and shows no signs of slowing down. He’s linked up with Ceedee Lamb for over 1600 yards and 12 touchdowns, while the likes of Brandin Cooks and Jake Ferguson have been feasting too. The Cowboys should have no trouble moving the chains and finding the end zone against this lacklustre defense.
More importantly, Washington are already eliminated from the playoffs, so just like the Giants, it’s in their best interest to finish with the worst record possible at this point. They may not officially tank the game, but expect to see plenty of back-ups on the field, who will be facing the Cowboys top 5 defense and 3rd ranked offense in passing and scoring.
You could be thinking - ‘ what if Mike McCarthy rests his star players if they take a big lead’. Well, with a -6.5 spread on the alt lines, that concern is out of the equation. If Washington somehow keeps it within 2 scores, there’s no chance Prescott & Co. are coming off the field.
Vikings @ Lions (-2.5)
After the Lions brutal last-second loss in Week 17, I expect Dan Campbell to be very motivated coming into this matchup. They may be division champs for the first time since 1993, but I still believe they’ll look for a win here over resting all of their starters. Goff & Co. need a boost after last week’s demoralising loss and they should find it facing a team they’ve already beaten this season.
And regardless of what the Lions decide to do, it’s impossible to have any faith in whoever the Vikings put at QB. Besides Justin Jefferson and TJ Hockenson, it’s tough to find any bright spots in this Minnesota’s roster.
Now, the Vikings aren’t technically eliminated from the playoffs just yet, but they currently hold a 4% chance to make a postseason appearance (per the NFL). To do so, they need to beat the Lions, then get a ton of help from underdogs around the league including: Bears to beat Packers, Cardinals to beat Seahawks, then Falcons to beat Saints AND/OR Panthers beat Buccaneers. So, short of a complete miracle, the season is over for Minnesota.
In their last matchup 2 weeks ago, Detroit won by 6. They should easily cover a field-goal margin this Sunday.
Buccaneers (-4.5) @ Panthers
After failing to win the NFC South last week, the Bucs will get another shot at clinching the division crown as they travel to Carolina to face the worst team in all of football.
The Panthers currently sit dead last in the league with a 2-14 record, and are unsurprisingly, very much eliminated from the postseason. We could see interim head coach Chris Tabor decide to put his starters out for their final matchup, but this would be a mistake. Bryce Young isn’t yet the star they hoped he would be, but in a meaningless game, it only makes sense to protect your most valuable asset. So, there’s a good chance that we see back-up Andy Dalton make an appearance this weekend.
Either way, the Bucs have the NFC East championship riding on this game, as well as the potential No.3 seed. Sure they stuttered last week - as they failed to find points until the fourth quarter - but they shouldn’t have as much trouble versus a 2-win team.
In short, we have one team playing for a divisional crown and a higher playoff seed, while the other has nothing to play for. The Bucs should easily cover this spread, so long as last week was just a bump in the road.
Chiefs (+3.5) @ Chargers
Betting on the Chiefs with Mahomes out of the game may seem strange, but let me explain... Andy Reid has chosen to rest his star QB for the postseason and we all know that Mahomes has been the only bright spot in KC's offense this season, but it's very likely that the Chargers try to lose this one on purpose.
The bottom line is that the Bolts will only suffer if they win this weekend, as it will likely bump them down multiple spots in the 2024 draft. More importantly, the usual 'head coach playing for pride' is not a factor. Brandon Staley was fired weeks ago, and management will be looking to pick up his full-time replacement in the offseason. The Chargers have nothing to gain and everything to lose from beating the Chiefs.
Not to mention, the spread is at +3.5 for KC. So, we just need them to keep things within a field goal to cover the spread (or win of course). I'll take the Blaine Gabbert led Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday.
(Header Image Credit: Cary Edmondson - USA TODAY Sports)