Week 18 NFL Picks

The last weekend of a full football slate is upon us. I’m already sad and it’s not all because my Eagles are melting down.

Last Week:  7 – 9 – 0
Season:       120 – 122 – 5

It’s Week 18. Some games matter and some don’t. As a treat to myself, I tried to find some of the best and dumbest things I’ve said throughout the year.

Saturday (4:30 and 8:15PM ET)

Steelers at Ravens
I declared the AFC North the best division way back before the season started, picked the Ravens to win the division and said the Bengals would miss the playoffs. Was a Joe Burrow injury the only thing that saved me from being wrong? You betcha. Ravens have nothing to play for, which is a shame because these games are always the best. I still expect a valiant effort from Baltimore’s backups. STEELERS -3

Texans at Colts
Win and in situation for both teams. I can’t decide who would be more fun in the playoffs. CJ Stroud is obviously great and exciting to watch, but the Colts and Gardner Minshew have this chaotic underdog vibe that’s also very exciting. Everything points to the Texans here. They have the better QB, they’re great against the run and their wins are simply better, which indicates to me they’re a better team. However, gut feeling says the underdog home team finds a way. COLTS +1.5

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Browns at Bengals
I understand the Browns clinched, but I don’t love sitting Joe Flacco here. Give him and the offense at least a half of work. I know, I know, avoiding injury is paramount but he’s only played five games. Keep the rhythm going and keep the offense fresh. The Browns will likely play the Jaguars next weekend and that Jacksonville defense is no joke. BROWNS +7.5

Vikings at Lions
I can’t believe anyone thought Jaren Hall was the answer for the Minnesota Vikings. You’d have to be an absolute idiot to believe Hall would carry the Vikings into the postseason.
Jaren Hall might be good enough to keep Minnesota’s playoff hopes alive. You’ve been warned. 11/6 (Oh gosh, that is awful.)
I think Jaren Hall was the better choice to run the offense, protect the football and lead the Vikings into a Wildcard spot. 12/8
I still think Jaren Hall is the better choice over Nick Mullens…
Hall won’t have the gaudy numbers like Mullens but he will move the offense and protect the ball. 12/29

Yup, those are my words. Being an idiot is just too easy. LIONS -3.5

Jaguars at Titans
I had the Titans as a lock for the playoffs back in September. Admitting stupid things I’ve said is so refreshing. I think the Jaguars are in real danger of missing the playoffs. I think the Titans are playing to win. I think the Steelers and Buffalo are going to win. Travis Etienne finally had a 100 yard day last week against the lowly Panthers, his first in 11 weeks and only his second all season. With Trevor Lawrence’s erratic play, I don’t trust the Jaguars one bit if they can’t run the ball. TITANS +3.5

Jets at Patriots
If this is Bill Belichick’s last game as New England head coach I think there’s no way he goes out a loser to the Jets. Belichick hates the Jets more than any other franchise. Furthermore, winning and screwing the team that no longer wants you out of a better draft pick is a great parting gift. Just ask Lovie Smith. PATRIOTS -1.5

Falcons at Saints
The NFC South has been up for grabs for four whole months and these two franchises danced around the division crown like it had herpes. I still think the entire division gets a full makeover from a head coach standpoint. I can’t imagine any franchise is happy with that their team has accomplished and where it is headed. SAINTS -3 

Buccaneers at Panthers
Bryce Young should enter the transfer portal. If David Tepper is the guy choosing the next coach then nothing in Carolina is going to get better anytime soon. PANTHERS +4.5

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Bears at Packers
Back on November 11 I said “Jordan Love is bad… he plays like he never watched a football game.” I don’t regret this statement, because he was lousy for a good stretch there, but Love is no longer bad. I am breaking this news to you. As for Chicago… I think Justin Fields earned the opportunity to take this team to the playoffs next year. It’s a reasonable gamble for the Bears. Passing on an elite QB prospect is always risky, but the Bears have been playing at a playoff level for the last two months and adding two early first talents should cement Chicago as a playoff team in 2024. BEARS +3

Broncos at Raiders
What do the Raiders do? On one hand, the team appears to love Antonio Pierce. On the other, the offense is kind of a train wreck and the team has gone 4-4 since firing Josh McDaniels. Other than a victory over Kansas City on Christmas, the Raiders haven’t looked all that good. Wins against the lowly Giants, Jets and a depleted Chargers don’t scream massive improvement. On the other hand, the Panthers finished strong under Steve Wilks last season and then let him walk. The Panthers are now looking for ANOTHER new coach. So maybe sticking with the guy the locker room is behind is the right call, but I would require him to bring in a season offensive coordinator. RAIDERS -2.5

Eagles at Giants
Haason Reddick’s comments Thursday more accurately portrayed the vibe in the Philadelphia locker room. Reddick basically admitted the panicked (my words, not his) change in defensive play-calling has left he and the defense in a position where they’re unsure and unsettled at times throughout the game. Sean Desai was cooked, so I was not entirely against removing him from the defense, but to go to Matt Patricia was just an asinine move. Patricia’s defenses have been putrid dating back to when backup Nick Foles torched his defense in the Super Bowl. GIANTS +5

Seahawks at Cardinals
Committing to Kyler Murray makes sense for the Cardinals. (I’m assuming they’re not bluffing to bolster trade offers.) If he’s healthy, he’s an above average quarterback. If he’s engaged, he’s probably top ten. The Cardinals decision to stay with Murray could potentially leave three top five picks with little interest in a quarterback. Depending on how the tiebreakers and Week 18 play out, the Bears, Cardinals and Chargers would own picks 1, 3 and 5, respectively. This could lead to some thrilling trades come draft time with teams desperate for a quarterback to move up. There’s even a .0024% chance someone in the Commanders front office is drunk enough to commit to Sam Howell. Could you imagine; four of the top five spots not going quarterback? SEAHAWKS -3

Chiefs at Chargers
On September 7th, 2023, I declared Isiah Pacheco would be the first Chiefs back to rack up 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns. We didn’t quite get there. Assuming he sits this week, Pacheco will finish with 1,179 yards and 9 touchdowns. However, he will have missed three games, so math tells me he likely would’ve finished around 1,430 yards and 11 touchdowns. Still wrong, but close, and at this point in life, that’s a win for me. CHARGERS -3.5

Rams at 49ers
You won’t find another human being on planet earth more excited for Carson Wentz’s first game action in over a year. Things just don’t disappear. 2017 Carson Wentz did just that. Poof. He was gone. Never heard from again except December 2019 when he found 88% of his 2017 self. RAMS +4.5

Cowboys at Commanders
What happened to Jahan Dotson? In the summer there was talk of him emerging as Washington’s top receiving threat. He’s gone three games this season without a reception. In 16 games he’s totaled 47 receptions for 501 yards, 4 TD and a 10.7 average. In his 2022 rookie season he had 35 receptions, 523 yards, 7 TD and a 14.9 average… in 12 games. Are we sure Eric Bieniemy is going to get a head-coaching gig this offseason? The Commanders were supposed to be one of the league’s most explosive offenses. Instead, they’re worse in yards per game, points per game, 3rd down conversions and the team will likely finish with three or four fewer wins than in 2022. Not a great look for Bieniemy. I have no idea why I’m not taking the Cowboys. I think I’m just hoping for some drama Sunday afternoon. If the Cowboys end up blowing out Washington then the Eagles sit everyone and the Giants are a lock to cover. COMMANDERS +13

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Bills at Dolphins
Earlier I went with the underdog home team. Not this time. The Dolphins are clinched and feeling low. They got their doors blown off and lost their best remaining pass rusher. Tyreek Hill’s house caught fire and Raheem Mostert and Jaylen Waddle are still questionable for Sunday. The mojo is bad in Miami. The Bills don’t want to go back to Kansas City and may even need a win to get in depending on how the day plays out. Then again, wouldn’t it be the most Buffalo Bills thing if the Bills did all this work to get in this position and choke away a playoff berth? BILLS -2.5

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