NFL Week 18 picks, best bets: Bills cover in emotional matchup vs. Patriots, Cowboys sweep Commanders (2024)

Welcome to the final week of the regular season. First of all, thanks for following along this year. Hopefully we won you some money, or at the very least gave you some food for thought on your picks. Gambling pays my internet bill, but not my mortgage. It's more for fun than anything. With that being said, this is the WORST week to throw money on the NFL.

It's difficult to guess which teams with nothing to gain or lose will show up, and which one's won't. Plus, for the teams that are starting their starters when they don't need to start their starters, will those starters play the whole game, or just the first half?

Here's a look at what I'm thinking this week. As always, credit to the CBS Sports research team for making me sound smart.

All odds come courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

Top five picks ATS record: 39-44-1
Overall ATS record: 125-123-7
Straight up record: 166-87-2

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS,Paramount+)

This is a must-win game for the Steelers. With a win and losses from the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, the Steelers would be in the playoffs. The key stats here are that the Steelers have won 18 straight regular-season home games vs. the Browns, and that Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season. At 8-8, the Steelers need a win to keep that streak alive.

I think it's pretty impressive that the Steelers have overcome seven-point deficits in the fourth quarter in each of their past two games. Kenny Pickett has some more steps he needs to take in his development, but he's been clutch late in games. With the number being this low, I'm just going to lay it.

The pick:Steelers -2.5
Projected score: Steelers 23-17

Minnesota Vikings (-7.5) at Chicago Bears

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox,FuboTV)

There are two reasons why I like the Vikings here: Minnesota will absolutely want to rebound after that terrible loss to the Green Bay Packers, and Nathan Peterman is starting for the Bears with Justin Fields shut down for the year.

Making the Vikings a best bet hasn't exactly worked out for me this year, but they are better ATS than the Bears, and I mean, c'mon. Fields has been Chicago's entire offense this season. If Peterman keeps it close with the Vikings this weekend, taking Minnesota to lose in the first round of the playoffs will be a trendy pick.

The pick:Vikings -7.5
Projected score:Vikings 27-16

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (-7)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS,Paramount+)

This is of course going to be an emotional matchup after what the Bills players had to endure Monday night. Ultimately, I think they try to go win this game for Damar Hamlin, as opposed to falling apart in front of their home fans. The Patriots have all the motivation in the world to go earn a victory, but they are 0-4 against current playoff teams, and have allowed 29 points per game in those matchups.

The Patriots are 1-5 ATS in their last six games, and have what is statistically the seventh-worst offense in the NFL. The Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals are racking up more yards per game than Mac Jones. I'll take Buffalo to cover in a special game.

The pick:Bills -7
Projected score:Bills 28-17

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-7)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS,Paramount+)

The unfortunate circ*mstances on Monday night gave the Bengals a bit of extra time off, although the team went through what wasn't exactly a pleasurable experience. But Joe Burrow and the boys don't have to travel this week, and they host a Ravens team that hasn't earned an impressive win in months.

Since Lamar Jackson left in Week 13, Baltimore has averaged just 11.8 points per game. The defense has been great with Jackson out, but it's notable that the Ravens haven't scored more than 17 points since Nov. 27. Maybe Jackson returns this week, but he missed practice yet again on Wednesday.

The Bengals have won and covered in seven straight games since losing to the Browns in Week 8, and are an incredible 20-3 ATS in their last 23 games played! Why would I bet against them now in an important divisional matchup at home?

The pick:Bengals -7
Projected score:Bengals 20-10

Dallas Cowboys (-7) at Washington Commanders

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox,FuboTV)

Ron Rivera has successfully rattled everyone. From sabotaging the Commanders' entire season by starting Carson Wentz in a must-win game, to sarcastically acting like he didn't know Washington's postseason hypotheticals, everything has gone wrong for the Commanders. Now, to finish out the season, we will get our first look at rookie quarterback Sam Howell.

The UNC product showed in the preseason he has some juice, but he's still a rookie making his first career start against a tenacious pass rush. The Cowboys offense has also been on fire, as Dak Prescott and Co. are averaging 35.1 points per game over the last 10 contests. That's 5.7 more points per game than any other team in that span. I get that this game is risky if Dallas ends up benching its starters late, but betting any game in Week 18 is risky if you haven't noticed.

The pick:Cowboys -7
Projected score: Cowboys 30-20

Other Week 18 picks

Chiefs 27-21 over Raiders (+9.5)
Jaguars 24-23 over Titans (+6)
Jets (-1) 26-23 over Dolphins
Saints 17-14 over Panthers (+3.5)
Falcons (-4) 26-20 over Buccaneers
Colts (-2.5) 13-10 over Texans
Eagles 27-16 over Giants (+14)
Seahawks (-6.5) 28-21 over Rams
49ers 23-13 over Cardinals (+14.5)
Broncos (-2) 21-16 over Chargers
Packers 28-24 over Lions (+4.5)

NFL Week 18 picks, best bets: Bills cover in emotional matchup vs. Patriots, Cowboys sweep Commanders (2024)


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