Fairway’s Football Forecast: 2023 NFL Week 18 Underdog Picks

FairwayJay is 11-1 ATS on his underdog picks in December with 9 outright winners. Get his Week 18 NFL picks, betting report and insights with information you can bet on.

Sports betting news and underdog picks for NFL Week 18

The NFL playoff positions will be decided in Week 18, and nine of the 14 playoff spots are secure with the San Francisco 49ers (12-4) and Baltimore Ravens (13-3) No. 1 seeds and a bye when the playoffs start next week. Thus, those teams are short home favorites of at least a touchdown less than normal in Week 18 as the coaches determine which starters will sit and how many minutes or series others will play. The final week of the regular season includes more line movement including totals, and we'll monitor and review the odds at the leading online sportsbooks and those below along with our Week 18 underdog picks.  

NFL Teams in Playoffs

- Baltimore Ravens (No. 1) AFC North winner 
- Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) AFC West winner
- Miami Dolphins (11-5)
- Cleveland Browns (11-5) Wild Card

- San Francisco 49ers (No. 1) NFC West winner
- Detroit Lions (11-5) NFC North winner
- Dallas Cowboys (11-5) 
- Philadelphia Eagles (11-5)

Key games in Week 18 with teams pushing for a playoff spot and/or a division title include:

- Pittsburgh at Baltimore
- Houston at Indianapolis
- Cleveland at Cincinnati
- Jacksonville at Tennessee
- Buffalo at Miami (Sunday Night Football, for AFC East title)
- Atlanta at New Orleans
- Tampa Bay at Carolina
- Dallas at Washington (DAL win secures NFC East)
- LA Rams at San Francisco
- Philadelphia at NY Giants
- Chicago at Green Bay
- Seattle at Arizona

Even the Vikings have a longshot chance to make the playoffs with a win at Detroit and a number of other teams losing. So, many games with playoff implications, and you can review the playoff picture and clinching scenarios as you watch and wager on the games. 

The bookies who built the business 

We crushed it in December with our NFL Underdog Picks going 11-1 ATS with 9 outright winners following a 2-0 result in Week 17. The 2023 season underdog picks are 28-25 ATS with 19 outright winners. The 7-year record of posting only NFL underdog picks is now 190-142 ATS (57%). I'm not including pushes in the records. Recall we had a 70% season in 2021, and we'll shoot for more profits and payouts in Week 18 and the upcoming playoffs.    

NFL Week 18 Odds 

Pro football odds from BetOnline and leading online sportsbooks refresh periodically and are subject to change, including on props and live betting.

Week 18 Quarterback Changes

With some teams locked into their playoff position, we'll see more quarterback changes in Week 18. Week 18 quarterback scratchesLamar Jackson (BAL), Patrick Mahomes (KC), Matthew Stafford (LAR), Brock Purdy (SF) and Joe Flacco (CLE) were all scratched as of Wednesday. 

Adding to the already 62 different starting quarterback this season, these QB's will start Week 18 games. Tyler Huntley (BAL), Blaine Gabbert (KC), Carson Wentz (LAR), Sam Darnold (SF) and Jeff Driskel (CLE). 

That brings the different starting QB count to 67 this season. If four of these new five quarterbacks win, that would break the record of 56 wins set in 1999.

The Minnesota Vikings will also turn back to Week 16 starter Nick Mullens at QB vs. the Detroit Lions, replacing rookie QB and Week 17 starter Jaren Hall. 

NFL Week 18 Underdog Opinions and Considerations 

Baltimore (+4) vs. Pittsburgh
Denver (+2.5) at Las Vegas
Carolina (+5.5) vs. Tampa Bay
Washington (+13) vs. Dallas
Chicago (+3) at Green Bay
Arizona (+3) vs. Seattle

NFL underdos picks week 18We'll monitor the betting lines and adjustments along with final injury reports before posting final underdog picks. Additions will be added late Saturday and Sunday morning.  

NFL Week 18 injury reports 

Be sure to monitor the NFL weather with cooler temps and more rain in forecasts, and snow and cold in more cities for Week 18 games. Any bad weather with precipitation, snow and wind only adds another variable to the handicap and consideration with turnovers potentially more problematic. Again, turnovers are a significant stat yet with much variance, especially fumbles. Teams that are plus three (+3) or more in the turnover column in a game this season are 46-4 SU / 43-6-1 ATS. Teams that are plus two (+2) are 39-10 SU and 36-11-2 ATS.  

Fairway's Forecast - NFL Week 18 Underdog Picks

Baltimore (+4) vs. Pittsburgh - Ravens Moneyline +175
Chicago (+3) at Green Bay - Bears Moneyline +135

Pittsburgh at Baltimore - MVP favorite QB Lamar Jackson will not play as the coaches decided to rest him until the playoffs with the Ravens already securing the No. 1 seed and first round bye. Tyler Huntley has played well in relief before, and more importantly, the Ravens defense is No. 1 in the league in Opponent Points per Play and No. 2 in Yards per Play defense (4.6) while allowing just 302 yards per game. Baltimore Ravens free pickThe Steelers offense was dreadful throughout the season, but third-string QB Mason Rudolph and his solid RB tamdem and top WR Pickens have picked up the pace, scoring and yards the past two games including as our Underdog Pick and outright winner at Seattle in Week 17. The Steelers 468 yards offense against the Seahawks was their biggest output in 6 years. Rudolph has as many 40-yard completions in the last two weeks (4) as Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky had in the first 14 games combined. Now Pittsburgh can punch their Playoff ticket with a victory combined with either a Buffalo or Jacksonville loss on Sunday. But with 'need' some teams 'bleed', and this line has over-corrected for the Steelers motivation combined with the Ravens having 'nothing' to play for. Yet, did you know coach John Harbaugh has the best NFLX record in the history of the game, in those 'meaningless' contests? He plays to win, and Ravens players are probably still PO'd they gave the game away at Pittsburgh in early October. Baltimore can still rush to the window as the league's top rushing team (160 yards/game) while also leading the league in rushing attemps (32/game). Remember, from my proprietary database, teams that outrugh their opponent by at least 30 yards in a game are 130-44 SU and 121-44-9 ATS (73%) this season. And teams that run the ball at least 30 times in a game (when their opponent does not) are 133-36 SU and 130-29-10 ATS (82%). Contrary call at a value price on the stronger running game and defense even with more backups playing. 

Saturday update: A look at the NFL Weather confirms 100% chance of (heavy) rain at kickoff in Baltimore with slight snow accumulation possible and wind gusts up to 25 MPH. The betting line has dipped down to Steelers (-3) and game total down to 34. 

Chicago at Green Bay - The Packers (8-8) clinch a wild card playoff spot with a win. We're adding the Bears (7-9), who have won 4-of-5 and playing their best ball with a dominant defense that has held all five of those opponents to 20 points or less. That includes two division wins at Minnesota and vs. Detroit, and the Bears blew a 12-point lead with 4 minutes left at Detroit six games ago in a 31-26 loss. I bet the Bears as small favorites the last two weeks as mentioned with their strong running game (145/game, 31.8 rushes/game) ranking No. 2 in the league in yards and attempts per game. Prior to last week's win over the shorthanded Vikings and a poor-performing rookie QB, the Packers needed a last-second FG to beat the league's worst team Carolina 33-30, and lost at home to Tampa Bay 34-20. A 24-22 road loss at New York against the bad Giants the game before the Bucs saw Green Bay allow 209 rushing yards to the G-men. How do you think Fields and the Bears runners are going to do this week? The Packers were in this same situation last season in Week 18 and lost to the surging Lions to keep Green Bay from making the playoffs. I've been hard in QB Justin Fields, but he's been much better since returning from injury in early November. So has the Bears dominant defense since trading for star star LB Montez Sweat in Week 9. Chicago's defense has allowed just 243 yards and 17.7 points per game since them. A big effort by the Bears is on tap at Lambeau, and limited turnovers could have them winning and match the Packers record at 8-9.

Please check back as I work on more underdog picks, game analysis, stats and insight over the weekend as we review injury reports and betting lines. 

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 X (Twitter) @FairwayJay for more sports betting insights.  

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