The final week of the regular season is here and there are some games that mean a lot and some games that mean very little. Everybody will be fixated on the matchups that have postseason implications, but now we also have to play a game of “Who’s In and Who’s Out” because teams will be resting players to get ready for the playoffs. We’ll have to watch the news cycle or use our best judgment.
There are some early lines that I like for Week 18, despite all of the moving parts, but keep your action light until more clarity arrives with each team’s roster situation.
Washington Football Team (-6.5, 38) at New York Giants
The Football Team blew a 16-7 halftime lead and was eliminated from playoff contention by the Eagles. This line was -4 on the lookahead and, despite the loss, went up when the Sunday night spreads were posted. That is because the Giants looked embarrassingly bad against the Bears in a 29-3 loss. Mike Glennon put the Giants behind early and they never recovered, managing just 151 yards of offense and 2.7 yards per play.
Glennon was 4-of-11 for 24 yards and threw two interceptions, along with a very costly fumble that led to Chicago’s first score. The Giants ran the ball 40 times in the game and could very well give the Week 18 start to Jake Fromm for the heck of it.
Washington has really battled admirably. The Football Team believes in Ron Rivera. I don’t believe that the Giants believe in Joe Judge at all. Washington has dropped four in a row, but two have been against the Cowboys and two against the Eagles. The Giants are nowhere near a playoff-caliber team and I’d be shocked if New York shows up at all in the finale.
Pick: Washington -6.5
Dallas Cowboys (-2.5, 41) vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Based on the playoff scenarios, we saw this total adjusted from a lookahead line of 44.5 down to 40. The Cowboys had already clinched a playoff spot, but the loss to the Cardinals means that they are highly unlikely to move up in the standings. That means Dallas is likely to rest guys, especially with Michael Gallup’s torn ACL.
However, we now look to be getting a matchup between Cooper Rush and Gardner Minshew. Rush did have Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb at his disposal, but threw for 325 yards against the Vikings earlier this season when pushed into starting duties. Minshew gives the Eagles a much different dynamic as a better thrower than Jalen Hurts. He was 20-of-25 for 242 yards with a couple of touchdowns against the Jets back in Week 13. Minshew is an experienced starter that has almost 5,800 passing yards to his name.
A lot of big names are likely to sit this one out, but both guys need to go through the playbook in case they are called upon down the line. I think we could see a higher-scoring game here with some guys getting opportunities and a lot of key defensive starters probably on the sidelines.
Pick: Over 41
Kansas City Chiefs (-10, 44.5) at Denver Broncos
There are a couple of plays to consider in this game. The Chiefs are still playing for seeding, while the Broncos don’t have much to play for, though the players may come with a big effort if they feel like head coach Vic Fangio is on the chopping block.
Defensively, the Broncos have had a lot of big efforts. They’ve played very well on that side of the ball. Sunday’s game was the first time since Week 10 that Denver allowed more than 22 points. That game included a kick return touchdown for the Chargers and some other short fields, one from a muffed punt return. It was an ugly day on special teams for Denver.
The Chiefs were held to 4.9 yards per play by the Broncos in the first meeting. Denver actually moved the ball well, but had three turnovers, including a 75-yard pick-six. Drew Lock is not Teddy Bridgewater, though, and the Broncos offense has produced just 36 points in the last three games. I’d expect a low-scoring game here. I also lean with Denver, but prefer the under.
Pick: Under 44.5