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NFL Week 18 Betting Preview & Predictions

2023 NFL Week 18 Betting Predictions

The NFL regular season ends with several key matchups that will determine playoff standings, starting with the Ravens hosting the Steelers on Sunday morning.

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7) at Baltimore Ravens (13-3)

The Steelers must win on Sunday to keep their AFC wild-card hopes alive. Switching to Mason Rudolph at quarterback sparked their offence just in time, scoring over 30 points in his two starts, including a 30-23 win against Seattle. Rudolph went 18 of 24 for 274 yards against Seattle, with George Pickens making a significant contribution. The running backs, particularly Najee Harris with 122 rushing yards and two touchdowns, played a vital role too. If the Ravens rest key offensive players, it would benefit the Steelers. Even if Baltimore fields its full offence, the Steelers have previously contained them, holding them to under 20 points in six consecutive meetings. Rudolph has averaged over 280 passing yards in his last two starts and the Ravens' injured secondary could make it another strong outing for him.

The Baltimore Ravens secured the top seed in the conference last week, making them the AFC's Super Bowl favourites. They solidified this status with a dominant 56-19 victory over the Dolphins, marking their sixth consecutive win and an impressive average margin of victory at 16.2 points during this streak. In the upcoming Week 18, Coach John Harbaugh is contemplating whether to rest key players like Lamar Jackson, considering the playoff bye week that follows. The Ravens, currently the hottest team in the NFL with six of their last seven wins by double digits, might be motivated to maintain their momentum and hinder the Steelers' playoff aspirations. Should Jackson be sidelined or have limited playing time, backup quarterback Tyler Huntley is a reliable option, especially on the ground, where he has averaged 8.7 yards per carry in his previous 10 starts over the past few seasons.

In recent visits to Baltimore, Pittsburgh has been dominant, covering the spread in five out of their last six trips to Maryland. With the Ravens wrapping up the #1 seed, they probably won't risk injury in this matchup. So look for the Steelers to cover.

Stadium Record

Baltimore are 6-2 at home this season. Pittsburgh are 5-1 in their last 6 games.

Head to Head Record

The Ravens have won 7 of the last 10 meetings.

Best Bet

Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5 = $1.90

Houston Texans (9-7) at Indianapolis Colts (9-7)

The Texans had a strong 26-3 win over the Titans last week, with C.J. Stroud returning to action with 213 passing yards and one touchdown. Nico Collins also contributed with seven receptions for 80 yards. Houston holds a 6-3 SU record in their last nine games, with a 4-5 ATS record. They have a 3-4 SU and 4-3 ATS record on the road this season. Also, in their last 20 road games against the Colts in Indy, the Texans have a terrible 4-16 SU record. But with Stroud and Collins back, the Texans are ready for a must-win game against the Colts, despite losing to them 31-20 earlier in the season as well. To secure a road win, the Texans' defence needs to step up from their previous meeting against the Colts.

In their recent January matchups, Indianapolis has struggled, with a 0-5 straight-up (SU) record and a 1-4 against-the-spread (ATS) record. However, in their most recent game against the Las Vegas Raiders, they started strong with a touchdown on the opening drive and held on for a 23-20 victory as home favourites. Gardner Minshew played well, going 15-for-23 with 224 passing yards and a touchdown, while Jonathan Taylor contributed 96 rushing yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Over their last eight games, the Colts have shown significant improvement with a 6-2 SU record and a 5-3 ATS record. This stretch includes a perfect 3-0 SU record and a 2-1 ATS record in their home games. It's worth noting that Gardner Minshew has been prone to interceptions in his 14 games since Week 2, with seven of those games featuring at least one interception. Minshew's turnovers often occur when he's forced to take on too much responsibility. To secure a win and a postseason spot, the Colts will need to play solid defence and rely on Jonathan Taylor's rushing game to keep Minshew comfortable and in a position to lead his team to victory.

In their recent matchups, the Indianapolis Colts have shown their dominance, boasting an impressive 8-2-1 SU record and an 8-3 ATS record against them. Additionally, it's worth noting that in the last eight games between these two teams, the total points scored has stayed under the expected total in six of them. This upcoming AFC South rivalry clash holds significant stakes so I like the chances of the Under as defence should rule.

Stadium Record

Indianapolis hold a 4-4 record at home this year. Houston are just 4-16 at this venue in their last 20.

Head to Head Record

The Colts are 8-3 ATS in the last 11 meetings.

Best Bet

Under 47.5 = $1.89

Buffalo Bills (10-6) at Miami Dolphins

The Bills have narrowed the gap with the division-leading Dolphins to just one game, winning five of their last six matchups, including a 27-21 victory over New England last weekend. They can secure the division crown through tiebreakers with a win in their upcoming visit to South Florida. Buffalo's recent success can be attributed to a stellar defensive performance, particularly from cornerback Rasul Douglas, who was acquired just before the trade deadline. Douglas made two interceptions in the last game, including a pick-six that sealed the win. The Bills' defence has been consistently strong, allowing an average of only 17.5 points per game over their four recent victories. However, they have struggled to cover the spread, going 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games, with a dismal 1-4 ATS record in their last five road games. Josh Allen enters Week 18 nursing a stinger injury suffered in the win against the Patriots. This injury comes at an inconvenient time as Allen has had a recent dip in passing performance, averaging only 166 passing yards in the last three games and throwing just one touchdown pass with two interceptions over the past two weeks. Despite his injury, Allen remains a threat on the ground, having scored two rushing touchdowns in each of the last two weeks, placing him second in the league with 15 rushing touchdowns. Given his injury status and the limited scoring production from receivers Gabe Davis and Stefon Diggs in the past four weeks, Allen is likely to play a pivotal role in Buffalo's rushing game on Sunday.

The Dolphins' struggles on the road were painfully evident in last weekend's 56-19 loss in Baltimore, making their quest for their first divisional title in 15 years a daunting one. They surrendered the second-highest point total in team history, a stark contrast to their recent defensive prowess, having allowed less than 15 points per game in their previous six outings. Conversely, the Dolphins have been dominant at home this season. However, their success at home has primarily come against weaker opponents, as they've secured six of their seven home victories against teams already eliminated from playoff contention. Their history with the Bills, having lost 12 of 14 meetings since December 2016, underscores the need for a stronger performance from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on Sunday, provided he's available. In the previous week, Tua had a lacklustre performance, completing just 57.9% of his passes, throwing for two touchdowns but also two interceptions. He has only scored twice in his last three home games. Despite nursing a shoulder injury, Tua Tagovailoa is expected to start on Sunday. However, injuries may limit his options, especially with receiver Jaylen Waddle, who was sidelined last week with an ankle injury, listed as questionable for the upcoming game. Even if he plays, Waddle is facing a scoring drought, having only made one scoring catch in seven appearances. Additionally, the availability of the league's top rusher, Raheem Mostert, remains uncertain after he missed the previous game with knee and ankle issues. Mostert's absence would be sorely felt, particularly after he tallied eight total touchdowns in his last five outings.

The season's final game will determine the winner of the AFC East division so this is a huge game for both teams. In recent matchups, the total points have trended towards the under in Buffalo's games, with 8 of their last 12 contests ending below the expected total. Similarly, when facing Buffalo at home, Miami has seen the total go under in 4 of their last 6 meetings. This suggests a pattern of lower-scoring games in their head-to-head clashes and I like it in Week 18 too.

Stadium Record

Miami has a strong 7-1 home record this season. Buffalo are 3-1 in their last 4.

Head to Head Record

Buffalo has dominated Miami with a 9-1 record since 2019.

Best Bet

Under 49.5 = $1.91

Other NFL Week 18 Tips

Game Best Bet
Jets at Patriots Under 30.5 = $1.90
Vikings at Lions Over 44.5 = $1.77
Buccaneers at Panthers Tampa Bay Buccaneers -5.5 = $1.90
Jaguars at Titans Jacksonville Jaguars -4.5 = $1.84
Falcons at Saints Under 42.5 = $1.89
Browns at Bengals Under 38.5 = $1.88
Chiefs at Chargers Under 35.5 = $1.92
Cowboys at Commanders Dallas Cowboys -11.5 = $1.80
Eagles at Giants Over 41.5 = $1.91
Seahawks at Cardinals Over 47.5 = $1.88
Broncos at Raiders Under 38.5 = $1.84
Bears at Packers Green Bay Packers -2.5 = $1.76
Rams at 49ers Over 40.5 = $1.70

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