2018 NASCAR Playoffs odds, predictions: Proven model picks winner of Monster Energy Cup grid

The 2018 NASCAR playoffs get underway Sunday at 3 p.m. ET at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This event kicks off 10 races that will determine the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup champion, and sportsbooks have released 2018 NASCAR playoffs odds as the opening race draws closer. Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch are the co-favorites at 9-4, but they're followed closely by 2017 champion Martin Truex Jr., who is going off at 9-2. Before you lock in any 2018 NASCAR playoffs picks, you need to see what SportsLine's Mike McClure has to say.

McClure, who has a mechanical engineering degree, grew up around race tracks. Big racing events like this are in his blood, and his model has been crushing its 2018 NASCAR picks.

It has made some huge calls in NASCAR late in the season, including correctly projecting wins for Kyle Busch at Chicago and Martin Truex Jr. at Sonoma. It also nailed three of the top four finishers at Michigan, and was high on long-shot winners Kurt Busch (20-1) at Bristol and Brad Keselowski (12-1) at Indianapolis. Anybody following its picks this season is up huge.

Now that 16 drivers are locked into the 2018 NASCAR playoffs grid, SportsLine has simulated the entire 10-race schedule 10,000 times and the results were surprising.

One pick we'll give away for the 2018 NASCAR playoffs: Clint Bowyer, going off at 15-1, makes a surprising run at the top five.

Bowyer comes into the playoffs with a ton of momentum after a strong second half of the season. He won at Michigan in the June race and recorded top-five finishes at Chicago, Sonoma and Indianapolis. With 12 top-10 performances overall and a pair of wins on the season, he has shown he can be a top NASCAR contender.

A driver to avoid in the 2018 NASCAR playoffs: Kyle Larson at 10-1. He barely cracks the top 10 in the projections despite being one of the top Vegas favorites.

Larson had 14 top-10 finishes this year in 26 starts on the Monster Energy Cup circuit, but failed to record any wins. Even after a big year in 2017 when he won four races, he finished eighth in the playoffs, so there are far better values available in this loaded NASCAR playoff bracket.

The model is also targeting three monster long shots with odds of 20-1 or longer to make a serious run at winning it all. Anyone who backs them could hit it big.

So who wins the 2018 NASCAR playoffs? And which long shots come out of nowhere to make a surprising run? Check out the latest NASCAR playoff odds below and visit SportsLine now to see the full projected final standings from the model that is crushing its NASCAR picks this year.

Kevin Harvick 9-4
Kyle Busch 9-4
Martin Truex Jr. 9-2
Kyle Larson 10-1
Brad Keselowski 12-1
Chase Elliott 12-1
Clint Bowyer 15-1
Joey Logano 20-1
Denny Hamlin 20-1
Kurt Busch 25-1
Erik Jones 25-1
Ryan Blaney 30-1
Aric Almirola 50-1
Jimmie Johnson 60-1
Austin Dillon 500-1
Alex Bowman 500-1

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