NFL capsules for Week 18

January 4, 2022 04:35 PM

Kansas City Chiefs (-10, 44.5) at Denver Broncos

The first of two games on Saturday is an AFC West matchup. The Kansas City Chiefs were in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed in the AFC but lost a shootout as the Bengals kicked a field goal on the final play to pull off the upset. The Chiefs have clinched the AFC West and can reclaim the No. 1 seed with a win and a Titans loss to the Houston Texans. The Denver Broncos have been eliminated from postseason play, and are still without starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is recovering from a concussion. These teams met in December with the Chiefs winning 22-9 despite being outgained 404-267.

Dallas Cowboys (-7, 42.5) at Philadelphia Eagles

Saturday’s second game features NFC East teams that have already punched their tickets to the postseason. The Dallas Cowboys are the NFC East champions and will host a playoff game but have no hope of capturing the top seed after they were beaten at home by the Arizona Cardinals. They visit the Philadelphia Eagles, who defeated Washington on Sunday, and then clinched a playoff berth when the Minnesota Vikings lost in Green Bay. These teams met in September, with the Cowboys winning in a rout, 41-21. On Monday, The Eagles placed 11 starters on the COVID-19 list, but they can all be cleared by Saturday under the new protocols.

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-17, 45)

The New York Jets (4-12 SU, 6-10 ATS) look to play spoiler in their final game of the season as they visit the Buffalo Bills (10-6 SU, 9-6-1 ATS). The Jets nearly upset the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week but squandered a 14-point second-half lead and were defeated when Tom Brady threw a touchdown pass in the final minute. They are huge underdogs once again this week as the Bills can clinch the AFC East with a victory. The Bills have won three in a row and will look to feast on a Jets defense that is ranked 32nd in the league in points allowed. These teams met in November with the Bills winning 45-17 on the road.

Tennessee Titans (-10, 42.5) at Houston Texans

The Tennessee Titans (11-5 SU, 10-6 ATS) can lock up the the AFC’s No. 1 seed on Sunday as they visit the Houston Texans (4-12 SU, 7-9 ATS). After losing three of four, the Titans have won two games in a row and have clinched the AFC South title. The Texans were held to just over 200 yards of offense in their loss last week in San Francisco but did win 22-13 in Tennessee earlier this season. The Titans won in blowout fashion last week, eliminating the Dolphins with a 34-3 victory.

Washington Football Team (-6.5, 38) at New York Giants

These NFC East rivals have been eliminated from postseason consideration. Washington (6-10, 6-9-1 ATS) let a nine-point lead slip away Sunday as they dropped a heartbreaker to the Eagles, ending any faint hope of a postseason berth. They now hit the road to take on the New York Giants (4-12 SU, 6-10 ATS), who have had a historically bad offense over the last month and recorded just 24 passing yards last week in a 29-3 loss to the Bears. Quarterback Mike Glennon is out with a wrist injury, leaving Jake Fromm as the likely starter. The Giants have failed to cover in five straight, averaging a meager nine points per game in that stretch.

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5, 45)

Both of these teams could be looking for new head coaches shortly after the game. The Chicago Bears (6-10 SU, and ATS) have won two straight, and now visit the Minnesota Vikings (7-9 SU, 8-8 ATS), who have lost two straight and were eliminated from the playoffs Sunday night with a blowout loss to the Packers. Quarterback Kirk Cousins is expected to return from the reserve/COVID-19 list after missing last week’s game. The Bears have used three quarterbacks in the last month as Justin Fields, Nick Foles and Andy Dalton have all gotten starts.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5, 41.5)

The loser of this AFC North clash will be eliminated from postseason play, while the winner still has faint hope of getting in the playoffs with some help. The Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1 SU, 7-9 ATS) won in Ben Roethlisberger’s final home game Monday night as they defeated the Browns to clinch their 18th straight non-losing season. They visit the archrival Baltimore Ravens (8-8 SU, and ATS), who are free-falling on a five-game losing streak. These teams met in December with the Steelers edging the Ravens 20-19 in Pittsburgh.

Green Bay Packers (-3, 44.5) at Detroit Lions

The Green Bay Packers (13-3 SU, 12-4 ATS) have clinched the NFC’s No. 1 seed and a first-round bye. While they don’t have any incentive to win this game, Packers coach Matt LaFleur has said he isn’t sure resting his players and creating such a long layoff is the best thing for his team. They will take on the Detroit Lions (2-13-1 SU, 10-6 ATS), who just gave up 51 points in Seattle and have been without starting quarterback Jared Goff the last two weeks. These teams met in Week 2 with the Packers winning 35-17.

Indianapolis Colts (-15.5, 45) at Jacksonville Jaguars

The Indianapolis Colts (9-7 SU, 10-6 ATS) can clinch a playoff spot with a victory Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14 SU, 4-12 ATS). The Colts lost to the Raiders last week, putting their playoff hopes in danger and will now have to win in Jacksonville for the first time since 2014 in order to keep their season going. The Jaguars are also coming off of a loss as their only touchdown against the Patriots came in garbage time when the score was 50-3. The Colts defeated the Jaguars 23-17 earlier in the season but have lost six straight games in Jacksonville. The Jaguars will clinch the No. 1 pick in the draft for a second consecutive season with a loss.

Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5, 42.5) at Cleveland Browns

The Cincinnati Bengals (10-6 SU, 9-7 ATS) clinched the AFC North last week when they defeated the Chiefs 34-31. They will host a playoff game and have a remote chance to snag the AFC’s top seed if they get help with a few upsets. The Cleveland Browns (7-9 SU, and ATS) were beaten by the Steelers on Monday night and beaten up in the process. Quarterback Baker Mayfield was sacked nine times in the loss and is done for the season, headed for shoulder surgery. Case Keenum will start in his place. The Bengals were defeated 41-16 when these teams met in Cleveland earlier in the season.

New England Patriots (-6.5, 39.5) at Miami Dolphins

The New England Patriots (10-6 SU, and ATS) snapped a two-game losing streak last week in emphatic fashion as they led the Jaguars 50-3 before surrendering a late touchdown. They now visit the Miami Dolphins (8-8 SU, and ATS) who were on the other end of a blowout last week, as their playoff hopes were dashed in a 34-3 loss to the Titans. The Patriots can still capture the AFC East with a win and a loss by the Bills. They’re also still technically alive for the AFC’s top seed but would need an inordinate amount of help. The Dolphins beat the Patriots 17-16 in Foxboro in the season opener.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8.5, 41.5) at Carolina Panthers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4 SU, 8-8 ATS) are without wide receiver Chris Godwin and running back Leonard Fournette, while Mike Evans is battling a hamstring injury and Antonio Brown is no longer a member of the team, according to coach Bruce Arians. The beat-up Bucs came from behind to defeat the Jets on Sunday and have already clinched the NFC South. With the Packers entrenched as the top seed, the Bucs are only playing for seeding in this game. They face the reeling Carolina Panthers (5-11 SU, and ATS), who have lost five in a row and 11 out of 13 since starting 3-0. They will likely start Sam Darnold, who has missed a large part of the season with a shoulder injury.

New Orleans Saints (-4.5, 40) at Atlanta Falcons

One of the more significant matchups of the weekend takes place Sunday as the New Orleans Saints (8-8 SU, and ATS) visit the Atlanta Falcons (7-9 SU, 6-9-1 ATS). The Falcons were defeated in Buffalo last week, squashing their slim playoff hopes. The Saints, however, are still very much alive and need a win coupled with a Rams win over the 49ers to qualify for the final spot in the NFC playoffs. These teams met earlier in the season with the Falcons winning 27-25 in New Orleans.

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (-6.5, 48)

The Seattle Seahawks (6-10 SU, 8-8 ATS) scored 51 point to defeat the Lions last week and now visit the Arizona Cardinals (11-5 SU, 10-6 ATS). The Cardinals broke a three-game losing streak by upsetting the Cowboys in Dallas last Sunday. They have already clinched a playoff berth and can capture NFC West title with a victory and a 49ers win over the Rams. Running back James Conner is nursing a sore ankle and has missed the last two games. The Cardinals defeated the Seahawks 23-13 in Seattle back in November, despite Kyler Murray sitting out.

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (-4.5, 48)

The San Francisco 49ers (9-7 SU, 8-8 ATS) can clinch a playoff spot with a win Sunday as they visit the Los Angeles Rams (12-4 SU, 8-8 ATS). The 49ers have defeated the Rams five straight times but may need to win with backup quarterback Trey Lance this week. Starter Jimmy Garoppolo missed the last game with a thumb injury but is hopeful to return for this huge game. The Rams also have something to play for, as they can clinch the NFC West with a victory or a Cardinals loss. The 49ers beat the Rams 31-10 earlier in the season on “Monday Night Football.”

Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders (-3, 48.5)

Why is this the last game of Week 18 on “Sunday Night Football”? The winner makes the playoffs and the loser, in all likelihood, is eliminated as the Los Angeles Chargers ( 9-7 SU, 8-8 ATS) take on the Las Vegas Raiders (9-7 SU, 7-9 ATS). However, there is a scenario in which both teams get in with a tie if the Colts lose were to lose to the Jaguars. Raiders star tight end Darren Waller may return after missing last week’s game due to COVID-19 protocols. He hasn’t played since Thanksgiving because of a shoulder injury. The Chargers have had their share of key absences over the past few weeks but appear relatively healthy as they head into this do-or-die season finale. The Chargers won the first matchup 28-14.

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