FairwayJay's NFL Underdog Picks for Week 18
Due to the volatility surrounding Week 18, playoff positions, scheduling and the Sunday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions that will decide the final NFC playoff spot, we'll update status with any additional picks Sunday morning. We did that last year and went 3-0 in Week 18 to finish a record season 28-12 ATS and 70% winners picking underdogs only.
The final week of the regular season presents more challenges along with significant line moves at the leading online sportsbooks. Several teams are eliminated from the playoffs, yet a number of games in Week 18 have playoff implications or seeding significance. Three playoff berths have yet to be claimed (2 in AFC, 1 in NFC). In-play live betting is a better option for more bettors again this week as more player personnel decisions are made, including starters that will or will not play. Some teams will pull starters by halftime as playoff positioning and other game results are determined.
Early #NFL Week 18 bet count:— Dave Mason (@DaveMasonBOL) January 5, 2023
57% LV +9.5 v KC
51% JAX -6 v TEN
62% MIA +1 v NYJ
56% PIT -2.5 v CLE
67% IND -2.5 v HOU
73% TB +4 @ ATL
80% CAR +3.5 @ NO
67% NE +6.5 @ BUF
62% BAL +7 @ CIN
81% MIN -7.5 CHI
62% LAR +6.5 @ SEA
83% NYG +14 @ PHI
57% LV +9.5 v KC
64% AZ +14 @ SF
Last year there were nine road favorites in Week 18, and this year there are just four. That includes the Minnesota Vikings up to -7.5 after Chicago Bears bumbling QB Justin Fields was ruled out and the line moved a full touchdown. I don't expect to have many more picks, if any by Sunday, but the results of a few early games may also impact lines for the later games, and we may even update through the day.
Last week we entered on a 9-1 ATS run, but went 2-3 in Week 17 to drop our record to 32-25 ATS this season with 24 outright underdog winners. Another disappointing loser with the Carolina Panthers (+3.5) blowing it badly, but a few wrong sides and a couple solid winners including the Saints (+6.5) outright over the Eagles with the line dropping ahead of the game.
Check the NFL weather and Week 18 injury reports, and we'll update more information as available.
Final turnover numbers will be decided this week, but the impact of a two or more turnover differential in a NFL game is significant this season. Teams that are +3 or greater in turnovers in a game this season are now 34-1 SU and 33-2 ATS. Teams that are exactly +2 in the turnover column are 44-9 SU and 47-6 ATS.
NFL Week 18 Underdog Picks
Las Vegas (+9.5) vs Kansas City - Raiders moneyline +360
Take +10 if it gets there again on the Raiders. We added the Raiders last week, and they nearly pulled off the big upset before losing in OT to San Francisco, 37-34. The betting line was the same as this week, and went to +10 game day. That could happen again although it's dipped, but new Raiders QB Jarrett Stidham played very well in his starting debut with 365 yards and 3 TD's as the Raiders out-gained the 49ers and their league-best defense, 500-454. I bet the Chiefs/Raiders game 'over' 50, and it's up to 52.5. Still believe a shootout is in store in the final game of a disappointing season in Las Vegas, and the Raiders can be very competitive again. The Chiefs secure the AFC's No. 1 playoff seed with a win.
Kansas City is 13-3 SU, but just 4-11-1 ATS this season. The Chiefs are also just 2-13-1 ATS the past 16 times against sub .500 foes, 1-10-1 ATS in their last 12 games following a victory and 1-9-1 ATS the last 11 times when laying 4 or more points. The Raiders have covered the last six times they’ve faced an opponent with a winning record, and are 4-1 ATS in AFC West match-ups this season. Las Vegas led KC 17-0 in the first meeting this season before losing 30-29. The Raiders blew another double-digit second half lead last week, and have a record five such blown leads this season. Totals players note that the last five Chiefs/Raiders games have totaled 72, 66, 55, 57, and 59 points. The Chiefs are averaging a league-high 29.1 points per game this season, and Chiefs road games have averaged 58.8 PPG (6-2 over) while Raiders home games are 5-1-1 O/U this season.
ATS Note: Eliminated teams playing teams that need to win over the final two weeks of the season have gone 97-59-4 ATS (62%) since 1990 (2-2 last week). The Rams (+6.5) are at Seattle this week with the Seahawks needing to win combined with a Lions win over the Packers to make the playoffs.
Check back this weekend and Sunday for any updates, additions and information you can bet on.
Sunday update: No additional underdog picks. We'll be following in-game and live betting. An opinion on the Detroit Lions (+5) at Green Bay on Sunday Night Football. The Packers are in the playoffs as the No. 7 NFC Wild Card if they win. If Seattle wins versus the LA Rams, the Lions are eliminated and the Seahawks get the No. 7 seed if the Packers lose. The line would go up, but we'd still support the Lions. Should the Seahawks lose, then the Lions can get the No. 7 seed with a win. We'll wait to bet more, follow the Seahawks/Rams game and bet accordingly with betting line adjustments.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper with unparalleled success in NFL pointspread prognosis. Fairway is recognized as one of the sports industry's insightful analysts, and he chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Follow FairwayJay here at OSGA.com and on Twitter @FairwayJay for more betting insights.