"Cleveland Browns Stadium" by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

NFL Week 18: Part 1

Week 17 was a fifth consecutive winning week (seventh in eight weeks). We went 10-6 on the week. We are now 47-29 over the last four weeks, using the cash model in this season’s new betting experiment. Since moving to the model in Week 4, we are at 50.5%.   

Our winners this week were the Bills, Patriots, Jets, Steelers, 49ers, Cardinals, Seahawks, Packers, Lions, and Saints. We are now over 50% since Week 4 and just under that since Week 1. Let’s close-out the season with a strong finish.

By The Numbers

Since Week 4, and the teams with the majority of cash wagered on them have gone 112-89. The teams with more than 60% of the cash on them are 79-60. The teams with more than 80% of cash on them are 31-19.

Remember to check the article after 11:00 am EST every Sunday. By then, we will have the final picks, factoring-in the cash numbers from PFF in our decision. Reminder: We are following the cash model, which means we follow the picks leading in cash percentage, unless there is significant late cash movement the other way.

This week, we’ll cover the first eight games of the week in this article and the last eight in part two.

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Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook


Chiefs at Broncos +11

The Chiefs reverted back to their early season ways last week in the second half of the game against the Bengals. After leading 28-14 in the first half, the Chiefs offense fell out of rhythm in the second half, scoring just three points on route to a 34-31 loss. Though the lack of offensive cohesion was troubling, the exposures in single coverage on defense was even more troubling.

The Broncos are down, bad. After losing a critical game to the Broncos a few weeks ago, the Broncos were eliminated last week, by virtue of the Chargers beating them in LA. Now, the Broncos will hope to somehow limit the Chiefs’ offense, while generating offense of their own. The problem is, the Chiefs weakness is downfield in single coverage and the Broncos don’t have the horses to exploit them.

As the playoff picture becomes more clear, it appears the Chiefs aren’t quite as competent on defense as we thought them to be a few weeks ago. It also appears the offense still faces their own hurdles. Fortunately for the Chiefs, this Sunday’s matchup shouldn’t go far to expose their weaknesses. The Broncos lack of competent passing game will mean this will be an easy test for the Chiefs defense.

Surprisingly, the Broncos held 68% of the cash on Saturday.

Chiefs 27 Broncos 17


Cowboys at Eagles +4.5

The Cowboys suffered a big setback last week in their quest to maintain positive momentum heading into the postseason. Kyler Murray sliced-up the Cowboys defense, while the Cowboys offense failed to establish the run. Despite the success through the air as the game went-on, a key Dak Prescott fumble and a late no-call on a Cardinals fumble was their undoing.

The Eagles just keep winning when it matters. They’re now 6-1 in their last seven (5-2 ATS). Despite not covering last week, the Eagles got a nice field goal to cushion their late lead and had a critical pick on defense to essentially end the game. As the defense continues to improve and the offense keeps settling-in under Jalen Hurts, this team’s ceiling is likely a little higher than we may currently realize.

This week, the Cowboys have to regain some form on offense before making their run at the postseason. With multiple key defenders out this week, the physicality of the Eagles could prove to be a lot to handle for a defense that has done a fine job this season, ‘til this point.

Just hours from kickoff Saturday, the Eagles held the cash advantage at 79%.

Cowboys 26 Eagles 23


Bears at Vikings -3.5

The Bears are now going to be without Justin Fields for this game. Oddly enough, the line only moved two points, up to 5.5. Andy Dalton is fine as a backup, and David Montgomery is still underrated as a RB. However, the Bears defense held the Vikings to just 17 points the first time around. Last time, the Vikings ran the ball, controlled the clock, and Cousins won on just 87 passing yards.

The Vikings won 17-9 the first time these two met in Chicago. This time around, there will be no Justin Fields, and the game will be in Minnesota. You have to think Kirk Cousins is playing to secure the bag for his future. With fans still split, Cousins needs to put on a show to give the Vikings management the numbers that will be hard to ignore. He’s already had a quiet, but great year. This is the cherry on top.

The Vikings held strong on cash on Saturday at 76%.

Vikings 31 Bears 17


Colts at Jaguars +15

The Colts looked off last week against the Raiders. Most of the issues were with Carson Wentz, who was fresh off a return from the Covid list. Wentz couldn’t get anything consistent (148 passing yards) or critical on third down conversions (just 3 for 11 on third down). Despite the letdown, the Colts only need to beat the Jaguars to get into the playoffs. Don’t expect too many hurdles in this one.

The Jaguars seem content to just stop the bleeding. A competent performance from both Trevor Lawrence and the rest of the Jaguars would be the best way to end the season, even if it’s a loss. The one snag here is the last time they played. The Colts failed to put the Jaguars away, and only managed to win by 6. Leading by 11, James Robinson punched-in a TD and the Jags converted a 2PC to close the gap to 3 in the fourth quarter.

I’d feel a lot better about this game if it were in Indianapolis, but the Colts are playing in Jacksonville. Now, it’s a must-win situation against a team you haven’t beaten in Jacksonville since 2014.

The Colts held 88% of the cash on Saturday.

Colts 24 Jaguars 14


Titans -10 at Texans

The Titans really screwed-up the first time these two played. In bad weather, facing a mobile QB who protects the ball well, the Titans let the elements and circumstances get the best of them. Though it was an excusable loss, given the elements, the Titans are a different team now, seeking revenge to secure the Top seed in the AFC. There is every motivation this week for the Titans to destroy the Texans.

The Texans have been so frisky this season, it’s both impressive and confusing. Despite games with a plethora of Covid absences, the Texans have found ways to both stay competitive and win. The Texans have won two of their last three, and even led last week at the half in San Francisco. With their division rivals in town, playing with so much on the line, expect the Texans to put up a fight.

The Titans held the cash advantage on Saturday at 85%.

Titans 27 Texans 13


Steelers +3.5 at Ravens

The Steelers got their appropriate home farewell game last week for Ben Rothlisberger. With that out of the way, there’s still a slim chance for the Steelers to make the playoffs. A Steelers win and a Colts loss puts them in. Though it’s not likely the Colts lose, the Steelers know winning is their only solution here. The Steelers beat the Ravens the first time in Pittsburgh, but with Tyler Huntley at QB.

The Ravens can still get in with a win this Sunday and a Colts loss. They understand the odds aren’t great, but know they have a good chance to avenge their midseason loss to the Steelers. With Lamar Jackson still sidelined with an ankle injury, Tyler Huntley will be the starter this week in a must-win game. Huntley has been pretty good in relief this season, but the Ravens have lost all four starts by just 5 combined points.

The Steelers held the cash advantage on Saturday, so much that the line went from 5.5 down to 3.5. Saturday’s cash report had the Steelers at 65%.

Ravens 24 Steelers 23


Bengals +6 at Browns

The Bengals will be without Joe Burrow this week. That’s going to be a big blow for a team looking to maintain their favorable playoff matchup (currently the Colts instead of the Patriots). After losing to the Chargers in a topsy-turvy game (mostly one-sided), the lost a heartbreaker to the 49ers. At 7-6, the Bengals reeled-off a three-game win streak to capture the division, but lost Joe Burrow on the final play.

The Browns’ season came crashing to a halt last week, following a loss to the Steelers. Just a few weeks ago, the Browns were 7-6 and looking primed to make the playoffs. After losing to the Raiders with Nick Mullens at QB, the Browns fell victim to both circumstance and a disjointed offense. With one week to play, it appears we will see Case Keenum take the final snaps of the season for the wilting Browns.

Despite the line movement towards the Browns since Thursday, the Bengals actually still held the cash advantage on Saturday at 78%.

Browns 20 Bengals 17


Packers at Lions +3.5

The Packers have officially locked-in the first seed in the NFC. After another rough start to the season (routed by the Saints), the Packers have gone on a 13-2 run. Even with absences from Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, and Davante Adams, the Packers have shown their team can overcome the obstacles. There’s not a lot to play-for this week, as they are set to face an unusually motivated Lions team in Detroit.

The Lions keep playing hard, despite their record. Last week, the Lions defense was shredded by the Seahawks. David Blough was able to rally the offense to 29 points (3rd highest output all year). Surprisingly, the Lions are 10-6 ATS this season. It’s realistic to expect the Lions to be starting a full, healthy roster, while the Packers should be resting starters around halftime.

Detroit held the cash advantage on Saturday at 85%.

Lions 27 Packers 24


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