Week 18 NFL Picks: The Regular Season Finale
Folks, we’ve arrived at the final week of the regular season. The regular season finale features a number of teams jockeying for playoff position. The Week 18 NFL picks will showcase a number of these matchups below, but before we get into it, here’s a reminder of how things went in Week 17:
- Saints +5.5 (W)
- Saints/Eagles O43.5 points (L)
- Commanders -1 (L)
- Jaguars -4.5 (W)
- Packers -3.5 (W)
- Vikings/Packers O48 points (W)
- Bengals to win (T)
Season Record: 56-59-5
Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
- Spread: Jaguars -6.5
- Titans ML: +225
- Jaguars ML: -265
- O/U: 40 points
Frey’s Picks: Jaguars -6.5, O40 points
The Tennessee Titans have fallen off a cliff down the stretch of this season, and now, they are throwing Joshua Dobbs out there at QB in a game that will decide the AFC South. The Titans have now lost six straight games and have allowed the Jaguars to jump into first place in the division.
Meanwhile, over this same stretch of six games, Trevor Lawrence has caught fire for Jacksonville. They have gone 5-1 in the past six weeks, and Lawrence has a TD:INT ratio of 11:2 in that timeframe. Expect the Jaguars to come out firing, and they will win this game to earn their first playoff berth since 2017.
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers
- Spread: Steelers -2.5
- Browns ML: +125
- Steelers ML: -145
- O/U: 40.5 points
Frey’s Pick: Steelers -2.5
The Pittsburgh Steelers as a franchise are no strangers to important games, and this upcoming Sunday, they are another team fighting for their playoff lives, as improbable as it may be. After starting the season 4-8, Mike Tomlin’s Steelers have now won four straight games to put themselves in a position to potentially land the No. 7 seed in the AFC playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Browns are another team with very little to play for this week, other than potentially spoiling a playoff run for their division rivals. Expect Tomlin to have his guys ready for this game, and they will continue his streak of .500-or-better seasons.
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears
- Spread: Vikings -7.5
- Vikings ML: -330
- Bears ML: +275
- O/U: 43 points
Frey’s Picks: Vikings -7.5, U43 points
The Chicago Bears will be starting Nathan Peterman this week, which has caused this line to balloon from 1.5 points to 7.5 points in favor of the Vikings. It wouldn’t be surprising if Chicago rested even more of their starters, considering there is very little reason for them to try to win this game. In fact, if they lose, and the Texans win, Chicago will land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Meanwhile, the Vikings will at least run their starters out to begin Sunday’s game against the Bears. They have an outside chance at earning the No. 2 seed in the NFC, depending on what happens in San Francisco later that afternoon.
Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers
- Spread: 49ers -14
- Cardinals ML: +675
- 49ers ML: -1050
- O/U: 40.5 points
Frey’s Pick: Cardinals +14
Speaking of San Francisco, the 49ers managed to escape a scare against the Las Vegas Raiders and Jarrett Stidham last weekend. Now, they find themselves in a spot where they face off with David Blough and the Arizona Cardinals in Week 18.
This point spread has jumped to 14 in the middle of the week, and let’s be clear, the 49ers will probably win this game. However, especially if they jump out to an early lead, they could take out some of their starters in the second half of the game. If that happens, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see a backdoor cover from the gunslinger David Blough as he attempts to prove he can be a fulltime QB2 in the NFL.
Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers
- Spread: Packers -4.5
- Lions ML: +191
- Packers ML: -221
- O/U: 49 points
Frey’s Pick: Lions +4.5
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers have been on the hot streak of all hot streaks in recent weeks. They’ve gone from 4-8 and dead in the water to a situation where if they win this week, they are in the playoffs. The problem is, they have to beat the Detroit Lions in order to get there.
Now look, the Packers have historically owned the Lions, especially in the Aaron Rodgers era. Prior to the turn of the calendar to 2022, Green Bay had won five straight games against the Lions. Now, though, they are on a two-game losing streak against Detroit, including an ugly 15-9 loss earlier this season at Ford Field.
The Packers will probably find a way to win this game, but I would expect the Lions to keep it close. In fact, it would be the most Lions way to miss out on the playoffs for Mason Crosby to hit a game-winning, 55-yard field goal as time expires.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.