The first-ever week 18 of the regular season arrives with not as much excitement as the league would have wanted.
5 of the 7 playoff spots in the AFC are sorted, Titans, Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, Patriots are all secured, the Colts get in with a win against the Jaguars, they're 14 point favourites so it seems likely. If that happens then the remaining spot is between the Chargers and Raiders who play Sunday night football to close out the season.
The NFC is similar, Packers, Rams, Bucs, Cowboys, Cardinals and Eagles are all secured and that's the order I think it will be although it could change. The 49ers or the Saints are getting the 7 spot depending on how results go. If the 49ers beat the Rams they will get in, if they lose and the Saints win, they'll get in. Either way the 2nd and 3rd seeds are pretty much getting bye weeks in the wildcard round. The Eagles and Saints are not good teams.
NFL Week 18
With so many dead rubber games it's a tough call picking anything tonight, but the Vikings have said they'll be going for the win against a dismal Bears team and Washington are playing the Giants with Jake Fromm which could make them the worst team in the league. They've barely put up a point in the last month of the season.
The only game with real peril involved is that Sunday night matchup between the AFC West rival Chargers and Raiders to finish the season off. The Chargers should win and -3 is a tempting line for them.
I'm plumping for the Vikings -4 hosting the Bears. Kirk Cousins missed out last week with COVID and their loss meant they have no chance of going anywhere this year. It could be head coach Mike Zimmers final game at the helm of the Vikings after 8 years in charge of the team.
They have said they'll be going for the win and playing starters, so Cousins, Cook and Jefferson should get most of the game by the sounds of it and the Bears are a mess. They're fine defensively and with Andy Dalton starting at QB they may well have more chance of winning but they don't have a lot and the coaching has been horrible on offense. Black Monday may well be a painful day for both coaches involved in this game.
It should be a look at the overs this weekend. There's not a single game in the 50s at the time of writing on Sunday lunch-time, and that's fair with the lack of clarity over who is going to play and the minutes they're going to be on the field for, but historically the final week of the season does provide opportunities to scoring, after all it's not just the offensive players who get rested.
Bills v Jets o40.5 would probably be the over I like the most, BUT… I am going to be taking an under still.
Under 40 in the Atlanta v Saints game looks likely to be a low scoring affair. The Saints strength is their defense and with Taysom Hill at QB they're likely to try and establish long drives and drain the clock. The Falcons may well try to get 50 yards for Kyle Pitts to get him the rookie TE receiving record but he's nursing a hamstring injury so could leave the game with that. Other than him there's Cordarelle Patterson and that's about it on offense, but the Saints D will be all over Ryan all game.
Falcons v Saints u40 points.
There's a limited offering from bookies this week with a couple of games not even listed on Skybet as they try and avoid any risk in pricing up reserves.
So there's a balance needed between random longshots and short priced players who should be invovled a lot. My shorter price has to be Rashaad Penny available at 13/8 on 365 and Paddypower. He's arguably been the best running back in the league over the last 4 games and rounded that off with 2 TDs in the first half last week as the Seahawks destroyed the Lions. It won't be as easy against a good Cardinals team but he'll get the bulk of the carries again and it's a good price.
There will be value out there for longer shots if you want to find it, but it's obviously tough to figure out. The Cowboys highlighting that with backup RBs Hardy and Ito Smith both scoring for them last night as they put up 50 by themselves against the Eagles reserves.
Ahston Dulin at 8/1 is my longshot for here though. Carson Wentz will be healthier and throwing the ball better against a dismal Jaguars team playing in front of a home crowd littered with clown masks. He was targeted in the endzone last week at a similar price but it was over-thrown so I'm happy to give it a go at this price again this week.
I'll chuck in Cyril Grayson at 5/1 on Skybet for the Bucs too. He scored the winner for them last week and with how depleted the Bucs roster is at WR this week he should get more of the ball, he's only priced up on Sky and 365 where he's 2/1 so the value is here. I'll take a shot.
Thanks for reading all year. I'll obviously be back for the playoff games which kick off next weekend.