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Week 18 is here for the first time in the history of the NFL. It's confusing and perplexing because Week 17 has so long been the finale of the regular season. Having the regular season extend into the middle of January is throwing everything off. The calendar feels weird, my brain doesn't know how to operate and I'm expecting this weekend to be the playoffs still.

But it's not! And this is the new reality moving forward for the NFL. Plus it gives me one more week to catch Pete Prisco in season-long picks. 

And the old Week 17 rules apply: you have to handicap motivation but remember that motivation, while it may change a team's interest in winning a game, does not affect a team's interest in covering the spread. Proceed with caution.

All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook

NFL Week 18 Picks

Chiefs at Broncos

Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET
TV:
 ESPN/ABC | Stream: fuboTV (click here)
Follow: CBS Sports App

Latest Odds: Denver Broncos +11.5

This game got Saturday flex status to motivate Kansas City to play a full game. The Chiefs are still chasing the No. 1 seed but need to win or tie and have the Titans lose to the Texans. Andy Reid likes to rest his guys when he can but he also likely wants to hold on to the No. 2 seed and multiple home games. A win gets him to 12-5 and guarantees he can't fall below the second overall spot. Teddy Bridgewater is on IR so it's the full Drew Lock show. I think Denver can find a way to sneak through the backdoor but Kansas City is a good bet to win here. A loss would throw an early wrench in the AFC playoff projection. Patrick Mahomes is 8-0 in his career against Denver (6-2 ATS), and the Chiefs are riding a 12-game winning streak against Denver. 

The pick: Chiefs 28, Broncos 20
Props, Best Bets: Nope

Cowboys at Eagles 

Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET
TV:
 ESPN/ABC | Stream: fuboTV (click here)
Follow: CBS Sports App

Latest Odds: Philadelphia Eagles +6

The Eagles clinched a playoff berth last week and Nick Sirianni indicated he'd be willing to potentially sit players, including Jalen Hurts, who he needs to be healthy for the postseason. The Cowboys need a pretty crazy parlay to move up to the No. 2 seed, but the No. 3 seed is definitely in play. And the higher the Cowboys are seeded, the more likely Jerry Jones is to get multiple home games. The other thing for Dallas here is a need to actually look sharp on offense after struggling against Arizona. Stumbling into the playoffs with questions on offense won't do anything for the mood around Jerry World. Dak Prescott's been outstanding against division opponents, so unless there's a massive COVID situation with Dallas or Mike McCarthy intends to sit everyone, I like Dallas in this spot.

The pick: Cowboys 24, Eagles 14
Props, Best Bets: Cowboys -7

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Colts at Jaguars

Sunday,1 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

Latest Odds: Jacksonville Jaguars +14

Wildest stat of Week 18: the Colts haven't won at Jacksonville since 2014, despite the Jags having one winning season in that entire stretch (2017, of course). This is a very different situation than the last few years, though, because the Colts could lose their playoff spot with a loss to the Jags. If Indy loses, they need a lot of help to get in. Jacksonville's probably worse than at any point since 2014 -- somehow -- and it's hard to imagine the Colts not finding a win simply by feeding Jonathan Taylor

The Pick: Colts 24, Jaguars 10
Bets: Nope

Steelers at Ravens

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

Latest Odds: Baltimore Ravens -3

Massive game here IF the Jags can pull off an upset of the Colts. If not, both these teams are eliminated regardless of the result. We don't know whether Lamar Jackson is going to play in this game and Ben Roethlisberger is ripe for a "letdown" spot after winning at home with a sub-3.0 YPA effort against the Browns on Monday. The Ravens are pretty substantial favorites here (-5 as of Friday) but if I'm looking anywhere it's the under, despite a low total of 41.5. It's looking rainy and cold in Baltimore on Sunday and neither of these teams is going to take huge shots down the field.

The Pick: Ravens 17, Steelers 10
Bets: Under 41.5

Bears at Vikings

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV:
FOX | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds: Minnesota Vikings -3.5

There's a decent chance both of these coaches are fired the day after this game, regardless of the outcome. This probably isn't a great game to bet on for motivation either, considering the playoffs aren't in play. If I'm backing a team for motivational purposes, I'm probably rolling with Mike Zimmer's team, given they should have a bigger affinity for their coach. Laying anything more than a field goal with this Vikings team is dangerous, but the Bears' pass defense is bad enough we could actually see some decent points here if the Bears can manage to produce some explosive plays. I'll back the over here because Matt Nagy will probably have a YOLO game plan. 

The Pick: Vikings 31, Bears 24
Bets: Over 44.5

Titans at Texans

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

Latest Odds: Houston Texans +11

The return of A.J. Brown has been a huge difference-maker for Ryan Tannehill, with his YPA going from 5.7 to 7.8 when Brown is on the field. The Titans can clinch the No. 1 overall seed with a win here, so they'll be motivated. The Titans should be feeling amped with the news Derrick Henry -- who hasn't played since Halloween and he still ranks sixth in the NFL in rushing yards! -- is likely coming back for the playoffs. Get that top seed and you've got to feel you can do some damage, particularly with a defense allowing less than 10 points per game the last four weeks. I'm inclined to take the Texans with a double-digit spread, but there's definitely a chance the Titans just get loose in the run game and the Texans can't come back. Mike Vrabel's shown a willingness to squat on small leads against bad teams and Davis Mills has looked sharp. 

The Pick: Titans 24, Texans 14
Bets: Texans +10.5

Packers at Lions

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV:
FOX | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds: Detroit Lions +4

Jordan Love versus Tim Boyle. Feel the energy. The one thing that sort of sticks out with Packers -4 here is Aaron Rodgers has said he and Davante Adams are playing. I have a hard time believing it, but in the event the starters DID play, Green Bay would be like a 14-point favorite. The Lions will play hard and could get Jared Goff back, so it's a little dangerous to go against them playing against backups. These teams are already a combined 19-12 to the under on the season and with backups playing we could see pretty light scoring, even if the defenses aren't exactly "stout." I'm kind of intrigued by Love in this spot but expect the Lions to keep it snug.

The Pick: Packers 21, Lions 17
Bets: Pass

WFT at Giants

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV:
Fox | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds: New York Giants +6

Joe Judge went on an unhinged rant while answering a press conference question on Sunday after the Giants' loss, talking for 11 minutes and detailing multiple potential fabrications. Bill Barnwell and I did a full one-hour podcast about it if you're interested, but the primary takeaways are that Judge gets multiple calls from multiple former players every week who want to come back and play for the Giants for less money and multiple to-be free agents who are "begging" him to come back next year. He also side-swiped Ron Rivera and WFT in the presser, talking about players who got in a fistfight and referring to the team as a "clown show organization." On Wednesday, Judge backed off it, claiming he wasn't talking about Washington. The only other team he could be referring to was the Rams, but their fistfight happened *while Judge was coaching* so it's not possible he knew about it by the postgame press conference. Rivera is well aware, the Giants are shorthanded and I think we see Washington run it up on them.

The Pick: WFT 24, Giants 6
Bets: WFT -6.5

Bengals at Browns

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
Fox | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

Latest Odds: Cleveland Browns -6.5

No Joe Burrow, no Baker Mayfield. The Bengals are probably going to rest just about everyone despite still technically being alive for the No. 1 seed. It's the smart move -- they'd need like a 100-1 parlay to hit in order to leap up to the top of the AFC standings. By resting Burrow they basically give him a much-needed bye (Burrow even said he appreciates the mental break) instead of forcing him on the field just to end up in the same spot. The No. 3 and No. 4 seeds are largely negligible unless some insanity happens in the first two rounds of the playoffs.  

The Pick: Browns 17, Bengals 10
Bets: No

Jets at Bills

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

Latest Odds: Buffalo Bills -16

Buffalo has to win here to take the division crown, otherwise the Bills would need a Patriots loss to the Dolphins to capture the AFC East. Winning shouldn't be a problem with the Jets being as bad as they are -- the question is how aggressively will the Bills use their starters here. Given they played Josh Allen some and blew out the Dolphins in Week 17 last year, I'm leaning on them being willing to run up the score against New York at home in a game they really, really want to win. I took the Bills over 10.5 wins preseason pretty aggressively, so I'm considering a hedge on the Jets ML here. Sean McDermott likes to go kind of big in these spots -- no chance you can back the Jets.

The Pick: Bills 41, Jets 10
Bets: Bills -16.5

Panthers at Buccaneers

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

Latest Odds: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -11

The Cowboys game on Saturday will matter for this game -- if the Eagles somehow win, the Buccaneers will be staring down a No. 2 seed and multiple home games. Tampa already dispatched of the Panthers two weeks ago in a 32-6 road blowout. It's borderline shocking to see this line at Bucs -8, especially when the Buccaneers don't plan on resting their starters in the final week of the season. The number stinks real bad here, so bad that, as bad as the Panthers have been, I'm going to back them trying to go out with a mild effort in the wake of Matt Rhule catching a ton of heat. Also -- the Bucs have been blanked and nearly lost to the Jets in the last three weeks. They're banged up as you can be and won't be chucking it around.

The Pick: Buccaneers 21, Panthers 14
Bets: Nope

Patriots at Dolphins

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

Latest Odds: Miami Dolphins +6

The Patriots' history with the Dolphins on the road late in the year isn't good. But this might be a pretty big game for Bill Belichick -- if the Pats lose this game, they could fall to the seventh seed, which would mean a road game against the Chiefs in Wild Card Weekend. So the Pats are motivated for that and, of course, for the division. A full touchdown with an aggressive defense at home is just too much in this division matchup. Probably leaning under on this game at anything above 40.

The Pick: Patriots 17, Dolphins 14
Bets: Under 40

Saints at Falcons

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: 
Fox | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds: Atlanta Falcons +4.5

The Saints are the way more desperate team here, so they make sense as an obvious play. But they're not ... good. Taysom Hill and this offense can't generate much of anything. The Falcons are a bad football team and finally eliminated from playoff contention. Atlanta's been blasting bad teams and losing to good teams by a ton -- the lone exception is the victory earlier this year over the Saints. The Falcons are going to care about this game because they can help knock their most hated rival out of the playoffs.

The Pick: Falcons 21, Saints 17
Bets: Falcons +4.5

Seahawks at Cardinals

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: 
Fox | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds: Arizona Cardinals -5.5

The Cardinals are coming off a huge win but this might very well be Russell Wilson's last game with the Seahawks. Arizona is playing for the division, but Russ is def playing to remind everyone how valuable he is when the offseason trade rumors get going. The under is 4-1 in Cardinals/Seahawks games since Kliff Kingsbury was hired, and while we saw the Seahawks light up the Lions at home last week, it seems less likely they just open things up against this Arizona defense. The Cards may very well win this game, but it's kind of tough to imagine the Seahawks just going away with this big a spread.  

The Pick: Cardinals 24, Seahawks 21
Bets: Seahawks +6.5

49ers at Rams

Monday, 4:25  p.m. ET
TV: 
Fox | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds: Los Angeles Rams -3

Massive, massive game for both teams. The Rams can win the NFC West with a win over the 49ers, regardless of what happens with the Cardinals (although they can still win the division with a loss, if Arizona loses, too). The 49ers are in a similar position with even higher stakes: a win guarantees Kyle Shanahan's team a playoff berth. San Francisco can still get in with a loss and a Saints loss, but that's leaving way too much to chance. These teams could also simply tie to get what they want -- a SF/LAR tie would end up with the Rams winning the division and the 49ers locking in a playoff spot regardless of what happens with the Cardinals and Saints. I wouldn't bank on that being a plan, but it's still possible. The 49ers have had the Rams' number the last few years and I'm getting more than a field goal, which makes this a no-brainer for me.

The Pick: 49ers 24, Rams 21
Bets: 49ers +4.5

Chargers at Raiders

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: 
NBC | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds: Las Vegas Raiders +3

The other potential tie situation in play that people are all worked up about. If the Jaguars beat the Colts (the part of this we're all ignoring), the Raiders and Chargers could take knees for 60 minutes. Even if the Colts do lose in Jacksonville, the NFL would never let it happen. And the players would never be willing to just take knees for four quarters. We should get an old-fashioned Sunday night shootout between Justin Herbert and Derek Carr. Derwin James might be the key here -- he's gotten in full practices so far this week so is tracking to be good to go. If the Chargers are less than a field goal, I want them, otherwise I'd lean the Raiders. It should be a close, high-scoring game.

The Pick: Chargers 34, Raiders 31
Bets: No