Often known as one of the hardest weeks in the NFL to bet, welcome to the final week of the NFL season. What makes Week 18 (formerly Week 17) so hard is the fact that different teams have different agendas at this point in the year and there are a bunch of different playoff-clinching scenarios to keep in mind when placing this week’s bets.
Let’s start with a futures bet that I think has tremendous value and is available to bet right now as you’re reading this.
Tennessee Titans to win the AFC Championship (+500)
The general public is betting on the Kansas City Chiefs to win the AFC Championship like they already know the final score of the game.
While it’s probably not a bad idea to keep the Chiefs in the conversation, the Tennessee Titans offer way more bang for your buck.
With a win on the road against the Houston Texans, the Titans will lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC and receive the only bye on that side of the bracket.
As if this wasn’t incentivising enough, rumor has it through various reports that Tennessee running back Derrick Henry will be available for the team during the playoffs as he recovers from a right foot injury.
If there’s anything you need to know in the playoffs, it’s that a solid running game can make all the difference for a team.
Another reason I like this bet is the fact that it provides a great hedge opportunity where you’re able to make a profit regardless of who wins the AFC Championship if the Titans were able to make it that far.
For example, it could be the New England Patriots and Titans in the AFC Championship game and presuming that you bet the Titans to win the AFC now, you can then come back and bet the Patriots on the moneyline for that game to guarantee a profit since you’ll likely have plus money on both sides.
Just something to keep an eye on.
Now let’s take a look at some games for this week and what I’m going to give you is two straight bets, one teaser and one moneyline parlay to have a decent amount of things to fade/follow.
Bengals/Browns Over 37.5 (-110)
I often call the last week of the NFL season “incentives week” because even if the game doesn’t mean much for the playoffs, players are still playing to reach different contract incentives.
I also like to refer to the last week of the NFL season as the week nobody plays defense. A lot of teams are looking forward to either the offseason or postseason and don’t want to risk much injury.
I think this number is way too low for a total especially when you pull up both of these teams' numbers and see that the last time these teams played each other back in Week 9, they combined for 57 points.
It’s also important to note that Cincinnati is a team that ranks in the top-5 of the league in points scored per game at 27.8 while their defense gives up an average of 22.2 points per game.
A 21-17 type of win for either team gets us to over 37.5 poins.
Las Vegas Raiders (+3) vs Los Angeles Chargers
If there was ever a game the Las Vegas Raiders had to win, it would be this game right here on Sunday Night Football.
The winner of this game is guaranteed a spot in the AFC Playoffs while the loser will most likely be watching said playoffs from home.
The last handful of weeks, this has been a Raiders team that has been playing for each other and interim head coach Rich Bisaccia has done a terrific job of keeping this Raiders team focused week-in and week-out.
I’m not all that sold on the Los Angeles Chargers and it primarily has to do with head coach Brandon Staley.
I can’t forget about the last time we watched the Chargers in primetime and Staley was doing just about everything he could to leave points off the scoreboard against Kansas City just about a month ago.
With a lot of pressure on this game for both sides, I’ll take the better coach and the home field advantage with the Raiders +3 and a small sprinkle on the Raiders moneyline at +140.
Week 18 6-point Teaser (-120 odds)
Cardinals -0.5 vs Seahawks
Patriots -0.5 @ Dolphins
These are two teams that I can’t see losing outright.
For the Arizona Cardinals, this is a home game and the Seattle Seahawks have not been very good all season.
Seattle could very well come into this game with zero care about winning the game which makes taking the Cardinals just to win the game even more attractive.
With the Patriots, this is also a divisional game on the road against Miami.
My concern with the Dolphins is how are they going to score against the Pats defense. Miami has struggled to score for the better part of this season and quarterback Mac Jones has been putting on a clinic this season for New England.
Give me Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the road against a bad Dolphin team to win the game outright.
Week 18 2-leg Moneyline Parlay (+121 odds)
This was one of the harder weeks to find a decent moneyline parlay given all the different scenarios going on but this is one that I think makes a decent amount of sense.
For the Baltimore Ravens, they’re playing a division rival in the Pittsburgh Steelers at home.
This is likely Ben Roethlisberger’s last NFL game and while he’s going to be gunning for the win, he’s going to have to overcome some potential roadblocks.
There’s some speculation that some of the Steelers O-line will miss this game for covid or injuries and if that’s the case, I don’t know how the Steelers offense does anything on the road.
I’ll take the home team in this spot to play spoiler to Ben’s last game as a Steeler.
With the Los Angeles Rams, there’s some incentive to win this game in order to keep the second seed in the NFC Playoffs.
With the possibility of rookie quarterback Trey Lance starting for the 49ers, I’ll take the veteran QB in Matthew Stafford and the slightly better young coach in Sean McVay at home.
Now as far as how much I recommend wagering on these games, I’ll let you determine the appropriate dollars and cents you’re comfortable with betting.
Instead, I’ll recommend the amount of units that I would bet on each of these bets. For those that might be new to sports betting, a unit represents how much you’re willing to bet.
My recommendation is that your one unit should be about five percent of your total bankroll. For example, if your bankroll was $100, your one unit would be $5, half a unit would be $2.50 and so on and so forth.
For the straight bets, I would recommend betting 1 unit on each of the two straight bets (CIN/CLE Over 37.5 and LV +3). I would recommend betting half a unit on the teaser and half a unit on the parlay for this week.
Above anything, please remember to gamble responsibly and if you or a loved one has a gambling problem, you can reach out for help at 1-800-522-4700.
Best of luck and let’s make some money!