Week 18 NFL best bets, odds and predictions: Seahawks soar past Cardinals


Happy New Year, Pickswise Nation! NFL Week 18 is upon us and with it tons of excitement as the race to make it to the postseason reaches its climax. With a bunch of AFC and NFC teams still in contention for the playoffs, we should be in for a chaotic weekend. Our Pickswise NFL handicappers have been on fire all season long, and that rings true especially for our NFL best bets. Our experts went 7-0 on Best Bets in Week 17, taking their overall record for the season to a staggering 55-37 and +34.11 units of profit! We’ve also got NFL picks for every matchup this week, but for now, let’s get the best bet from 3 of our best NFL handicappers for Week 18.

Chris Farley: New England Patriots -1.5 over New York Jets (-110)

There’s obviously not a lot to anticipate about this contest from a football perspective. Both teams are far and away outside the playoff picture, and each program has been vilified for tremendously disappointing seasons. The Jets are a little less responsible for their downtrodden results this year, though, since big-name QB Aaron Rodgers went down to an injury just minutes into the 2023-24 regular season. Of course, we all thought Robert Saleh and the Jets’ front office may still be fighting for their jobs, but owner Woody Johnson has made it clear that Saleh and GM Joe Douglas will return for the next campaign. New York would love nothing more than to end its season with a W over a big rival — a Patriots franchise that has defeated the perennial loser of an opponent in 15 straight contests. Bill Belichick’s outfit also beat the Jets this year in Week 3, in one of their best defensive efforts of the season, holding Gang Green to just 171 total yards and halting their offense on 12 of 14 third-down attempts. Saleh announced that if Zach Wilson is healthy, he will be the Jets’ starter this weekend — the same guy who went a putrid 18 of 36 for 157 yards and took 4 sacks against the Pats back in September.

While Saleh’s job is secure, the same cannot be said for Belichick and I think that will make all the difference this Sunday. The esteemed “GOAT” among NFL coaches has been under the microscope since Tom Brady’s departure, and rightfully so — he is 29-36 as the Pats’ head man since TB12 exited the building. Still, the 8-time Super Bowl winner (don’t forget his ring with the Giants as defensive coordinator back in 1990) obviously has plenty of fight left, as he has scratched and clawed and made adjustments all season to try and turn his current roster into a winning program. It hasn’t worked out well, but I imagine Belichick will go out with a bang this Sunday. In case you need even more reason to believe: if he loses this Sunday, he’ll tie former Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry for the most losses in NFL history. Ya think Belichick has enough motivation this weekend? Same.

No coach has brought as much success to any sports franchise as Belichick has to the New England Patriots, and I’m sure their fans appreciate it. I expect Gillette Stadium to be raucous in his final appearance, just as I expect the Patriots’ players to be ultra-motivated to get Bill one last game. But players, schemes, agendas — not much matters in this kind of scenario. As a professional handicapper we cannot ignore the enormity of the moment. And since the NFL is often as much a soap opera as it is a sport, I can’t imagine Belichick doesn’t get the final victory he deserves in New England. This will be defense vs. defense this Sunday, and the defensive mastermind that is Belichick has my trust.

Andrew Ortenberg: Seattle Seahawks -3 over Arizona Cardinals (+100)

We’ve got an NFC West battle between teams who have very different things on the line in Week 18 as the Arizona Cardinals host the Seattle Seahawks. If Seattle wins and Green Bay loses, the Seahawks will make the playoffs. Meanwhile the Cards are currently in a three-way tie with Washington and New England for the rights to the second overall pick in April’s draft. Arizona showed this past week in their upset win over the Eagles that they certainly aren’t tanking down the stretch, but I still like the Seahawks a lot in this spot.

I’ve been lower than most on Seattle all year long, but this line feels like an overreaction to the Cards’ upset and the Seahawks’ loss last week. And Arizona’s win had more to do with the fact that Philly is playing terribly at the moment than anything they did particularly well. I’m not holding it too much against Seattle for losing to Pittsburgh, since the Steelers are playing a lot better with Mason Rudolph under center. Right before the Cardinals’ win over the Eagles, they lost to the Bears by 11 in a game where they got gashed on the ground and gave up 250 rushing yards.

Arizona is 0-5 in division games this year, with all five of those losses coming by double digits. They’ve lost those five NFC West matchups by a combined total of 85 points, nearly 20 per game. Kyler Murray has given the team a boost since returning from his ACL tear since he was replacing the dreadful Josh Dobbs, but it’s not like he’s actually been playing that well. Murray is averaging a mediocre 6.5 yards per attempt, and his QBR is easily the worst of his five-year pro career.

John Martin: Miami Dolphins +3 over Buffalo Bills (-120)

The Buffalo Bills have found themselves in quite the predicament. They can either win the entire AFC East division. Or, depending on what else happens around the NFL on Sunday, they can find themselves completely out of the NFL postseason. The Dolphins, on the other hand, are firmly in the playoffs. It’s just a matter of where they have to play in the Wild Card round. So with that all being said, what’s the right side? In this situation, especially with what the Dolphins have gone through with injury and their slide towards the end of the season, it feels like grabbing 3 points with the home team is the right decision. Tua is in, Tyreek Hill is in, and the Dolphins would love nothing more than to cap the season off with an AFC East crown.

I recognize the market ratings love the Bills. The old adage is that if a team is in a must-win situation in the regular season, it must mean they’re not very good. I don’t necessarily believe that to be the case about the Bills — but their season has left quite a bit to be desired. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs are still dealing with injury issues. The defense has never been whole all season long. And although it’s a popular line to say that the Bills are a team you just don’t want to see in the postseason, I don’t necessarily know if I believe that. Josh Allen is still capable of turning the ball over several times a game. The run game has improved but is inconsistent, certainly. Squeaking out wins over the Chargers with Easton Stick and then against the Patriots doesn’t do much to inspire confidence. I also believe that Mike McDaniel is a superior coach to Sean McDermott. The Bills may win the game, but given their injuries and relatively underwhelming season, I’ll take the 3 points with the home team in the Miami Dolphins.

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