NFL picks, predictions against the spread Week 18: Packers, Steelers slip into playoffs; Jets deny Dolphins; Eagles seal No. 1 seed

By | January 3, 2023

Week 17 in the NFL provided a lot of expected results with several playoff-pushing teams motivated and some other teams just playing out the string. There also were a lot of interdivision and interconference matchups ripe for surprises.

Week 18, per tradition, brings 16 all-division matchups across the league. It becomes a little more difficult, given some teams are in position to rest key healthy players and shut down any injured players.

Here’s breaking down the final regular-season games with the last NFL picks and predictions before the playoffs:

(betting odds courtesy of Sports Interaction)

NFL POWER RANKINGS: Chiefs, 49ers overtake Eagles, Bills as new 1-2; Packers, Steelers, Patriots cling to life for Week 18

NFL picks against the spread for Week 18

  • NFC Game of the Week: Lions at Packers (-4.5, 48.5 o/u)

Sunday 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

The Packers’ defense found its groove at home against the Vikings with good pressure and forcing Kirk Cousins into mistakes. Jared Goff is a different QB on the road in the elements against a tricky pass defense that can cover his tight ends well. The Packers’ more diverse attack with Aaron Rodgers gets the job done and puts them in playoff position.

Pick: Packers win 27-20 and cover the spread.

  • AFC Game of the Week: Titans at Jaguars (-6.5, 38.5 o/u)

Saturday 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC

The Titans made the right call to rest their key players against the Cowboys, given their rash of injuries. They also were wise to turn to veteran Josh Dobbs as their starting QB. Derrick Henry will keep Tennessee in the game after his week off with more of his usual power running vs. Jacksonville. But Trevor Lawrence will deliver for a second time against a weak pass defense to save the Jaguars’ amazing post-Urban Meyer run toward a division title.

Pick: Jaguars win 24-20 but fail to cover the spread.

  • Upset of the Week: Jets over Dolphins (-2, 39.5 o/u)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Dolphins are in another tough place at quarterback with Tua Tagovailoa (concussion) and Teddy Bridgewater (finger) hurting, just like they were in the Week 5 blowout loss to the Jets in New York. Their QB play already has been shaky during the five-game losing streak. The Jets’ defense rebounds and gets a break vs. an inconsistent running game while Mike White plays OK enough with his weapons in good matchups.

Pick: Jets win 20-17.

  • Lock of the Week: Eagles (-14, 42.5 o/u) over Giants 

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

The Eagles need this game badly to hold off the Cowboys and 49ers. Jalen Hurts is expected to return nearly fully healthy coming off his right shoulder injury. The Giants are locked into the No. 6 seed and are coy about resting players under Brian Daboll, but that would be the wise choice, because they should like the current opening playoff matchup vs. the Vikings. Philadelphia will take care of home field with more of their regular 2022 play.

Pick: Eagles win 31-14 and cover the spread.

  • Chiefs (-9.5, 53 o/u) at Raiders

Saturday 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC

The Chiefs also are trying to push for the No. 1 seed and they should be relentless passing with Patrick Mahomes and take advantage of a weak run defense, too. The Raiders showed a lot of offensive energy with Jarrett Sitdham, but they may not have much left in the tank emotionally after another wild overtime game that resulted in a loss.

Pick: Chiefs win 34-24 and cover the spread.

  • Buccaneers at Falcons (-3, 41 o/u)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Bucs are locked into the No. 4 seed as NFC South champions will be judicious about playing Tom Brady and other key players. But they have enough pop around the QB with the regained offensive confidence from last week and their defense also can save the day making big plays vs. rookie Desmond Ridder.

Pick: Buccaneers win 23-20.

Josh Allen and Mac Jones

Getty Images

  • Patriots at Bills (TBD)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Patriots are pushing for a playoff spot but they are overmatched offensively and defensively in this road matchup against a motivated Bills team with key AFC seeding still on the line. Josh Allen has been a handful for Bill Belichick’s defense of late and that continues here as New England’s playoff return plans are spoiled.

Pick: Bills win 23-14.

  • Vikings (-3.5, 46 o/u) at Bears

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Vikings don’t have much on the line here as they probably will be the No. 3 seed behind the 49ers and NFC East champions no matter what. But they need a good tuneup for Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook and the offense. Their defense also can feel better about ripping into a weak attack around Justin Fields.

Pick: Vikings win 30-24 and cover the spread.

  • Texans at Colts (-2.5, 38 o/u)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Texans need to be careful here about losing the No. 1 overall pick to the Bears, but in the end, they would still have their first choice at QB at No. 2 given Chicago has Fields. The Colts will stick with a run-heavy game plan with their shaky QB situation and that should work well as their defense takes care of the rest to save some face.

Pick: Colts win 20-17 and cover the spread.

Taysom Hill

(Getty Images)

  • Panthers at Saints (-3.5, 41.5 o/u)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Panthers tried their best for a late running game and defense fueled rally to get into the playoffs, but that fell apart because of inconsistency and injuries. The Saints marched well on the Eagles last week and are the better coached team to better execute in a physical game at home.

Pick: Saints win 24-20 and cover the spread.

  • Browns at Steelers (TBD)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Steelers have a chance to have another winning season under Mike Tomlin. They also know the Patriots and Dolphins are in tough spots with their division games, opening the door for repeat trip to the playoffs. Trust them at home with the defense playing well vs. Deshaun Watson with Kenny Pickett continuing to come through in the clutch.

Pick: Steelers win 20-17.

  • Cowboys (-4, 41.5 o/u) at Commanders 

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

The Cowboys are back to rolling with Dak Prescott and their running game playing well off each other and the eliminated Commanders don’t have the firepower with either QB to push their defense. Dallas, not worrying about Philadelphia, will stay sharp ahead of likely facing Tampa Bay and Brady to open the playoffs.

Pick: Cowboys win 30-13 and cover the spread.

Justin Herbert

(Getty Images)

  • Chargers (-3, 40.5 o/u) at Broncos

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

The Chargers are rolling with their defense and the 1-2 punch of Justin Herbert and Austin Ekeler taking turns to lead the offense. Los Angeles is likely locked into the No. 5 seed and a favorable matchup with the AFC South champions. That’s a good reason to rip Russell Wilson and Denver one more time.

Pick: Chargers win 23-13 and cover the spread.

  • Rams at Seahawks (-6.5, 41.5 o/u)

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

The Rams are down to Cam Akers facilating the downfield passing offense for Baker Mayfield but their offensive line issues and limited receiving corps with hold them back again in a hostile road environment. The Seahawks will finish their surprise season over .500 on the strength of running and the defense and let the NFC playoff chips fall where they may.

Pick: Seahawks win 27-20 and cover the spread.

Kenneth Walker

(Getty Images)

  • Cardinals at 49ers (-14, 40.5 o/u)

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

The Cardinals are trying to put duct tape around their offense with their injuries, which now include DeAndre Hopkins and James Conner on top of the offensive line, Rondale Moore and Kyler Murray. The 49ers still have a shot at the No. 1 seed and will pour it on with great matchups for all their offensive principals around Brock Purdy, who will stay perfect with their 10th consecutive victory.

Pick: 49ers win 34-14 and cover the spread.

  • Ravens at Bengals (TBD)

Sunday to be scheduled

The Ravens just can’t find enough offense without Lamar Jackson beyond Mark Andrews and the running game. The Bengals will be working to gain better momentum going into their AFC championship repeat run. There’s a chance this is the rematch for the first round of the playoffs, so Zac Taylor and Lou Anarumo must be a bit wary of what they plan to do a third time with Joe Burrow and the defense.

Pick: Bengals win 24-17

  • Stats of the Week

Week 17 record straight up: 12-3
Week 17 record against the spread: 9-6
Season record straight up: 169-84
Season record against the spread: 127-122