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NFL odds Week 18: 49ers will cover in season finale, other best bets

By newadmin / Published on Friday, 06 Jan 2023 18:04 PM / No Comments / 6 views

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We made it, folks. These 18 weeks of NFL action have flown by. And like every season, this one was packed with storylines that we’ll never forget.

Most notably, and most recently, watching Damar Hamlin bounce back from his scary medical emergency has been one of the most impactful stories in the league. Hamlin’s journey is a reminder that life is bigger than football.

And then, of course, we watched two of the greats — Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers — have mediocre seasons. We saw the reigning world champion Rams fall way short of Super Bowl glory. So this year’s crown is anyone’s for the taking.

For a final time before the postseason, I’ve got some wagers that will hopefully help us all win some money during NFL Week 18 (odds via FOX Bet).

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Ravens at Bengals (1 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS)

It appears the Ravens will be without Lamar Jackson again this weekend, and that’s a problem. While backup quarterback Tyler Huntley is capable of running the same offense as Lamar Jackson, it’s clear that the Ravens can’t score without their MVP quarterback. Lamar got hurt early against the Broncos, a game the Ravens won 10-9. In the four games since, the Ravens have scored 16, 3, 17 and 13 points. They are unable to close in the red zone, and even worse, they barely score in the second half of games.

The Ravens are playing a Bengals defense that ranks seventh in points allowed. In the first contest between these two, Baltimore didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard, winning 19-17. Cincinnati’s defense will shut down the Ravens’ Jackson-less offense. 

I like Ravens Under 16.5 points. 

PICK: Ravens Under 16.5 points scored at FOX Bet

Panthers at Saints (1 p.m. ET Sunday, FOX)

The toughest part of a Week 18 game where both teams are eliminated from the playoffs is determining which side will care more. Which team will have players looking towards the future, and which team has players present for the moment? For this matchup, I predict that the Panthers will be the team focused on the present while the Saints look ahead to the future.

The Saints coaching staff, and players under contract for 2023, know they will be returning for next season. Veteran players who are dinged up could sit. Younger players the staff wants to evaluate might see playing time.

Interim coach Steve Wilks is coaching to keep his job amid reports that the Panthers are already looking toward other options for next season. Carolina has played inspired ball under him, climbing out of the basement of the NFC South before the Bucs took over the fourth quarter last weekend to clinch the division for themselves. 

The Panthers players will be ready to give it their all for one last game.

PICK: Panthers (+3.5 at FOX Bet) to lose by fewer than 3.5 points (or win outright)

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Buccaneers at Falcons (1 p.m. ET Sunday, FOX) 

The Bucs won the NFC South with a victory over the Panthers last weekend and are locked into the 4-seed for the playoffs. Teams in the Bucs’ situation have routinely sat their starters to prepare for the following weekend of playoff action. However, nothing about Tom Brady is routine. 

Tom Brady has always played in the preseason when other starters sat. Brady has always played in situations where Week 18 doesn’t matter. He loves playing football. He also knows his squad played their best football of the season in the fourth quarter against Carolina in Week 17. Another excellent half of football going into Wild Card weekend provides great momentum. 

I think the Bucs will play their starters for at least a half, so I’m taking them to cover the first half.

PICK: Bucs +2.5 1st half at FOX Bet

Cowboys at Commanders (4:25 pm. ET Sunday, FOX)

The Cowboys have an outside shot for the NFC East and the top seed in the conference if things break their way this weekend. For Dallas to claim the top spot in the NFC, the Eagles and Niners would both need to lose. It appears the New York Giants — the Eagles’ opponent — aren’t going to play any starters this weekend as they prepare for the playoffs. So it’s unlikely the Cowboys will win the division this weekend. 

Make no mistake about it though, I’m taking the Cowboys in the first half of this game. 

During the first half, the Cowboys will not be watching the scoreboard. They are facing a Washington team starting rookie Sam Howell for the first time. I believe the Cowboys will start fast, knowing they need to win, but will cool off once they do start watching the scoreboard. 

PICK: Cowboys -3.5 1st half at FOX Bet

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Cardinals at Niners (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday, FOX)

History will tell you that this is not a spot to take the favorite in the final week of the season. 

A team with nothing to play for, Arizona, has covered 65% of games against a team that needs to win, San Francisco. However, Arizona is starting a third string quarterback and will be without Deandre Hopkins. On the other side, the Niners are coming off their worst defensive game of the season. 

San Francisco’s defense is going to bounce back against this poor AZ offense. The 49ers are still playing for the top-2 seed, and their effort this weekend will show that. 

I’m rolling with the Niners to cover the full game.  

PICK: Niners (-14 at FOX Bet) to win by more than 14 points

Geoff Schwartz played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. He is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.

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