Tuesday, January 25, 2022

NFL Week 18 early odds: Chiefs, Bills double-digit favorites with playoff position still on the line

Week 17 in the NFL will finish up on Monday night with the Steelers hosting the Browns in primetime. In the past, this would have been it for the regular season, but we are now stepping into uncharted territory as we approach Week 18. This is the first time that teams have played a Week 18 as the NFL expanded its regular season this year, which gives us an extra slate of games to sink our teeth into. 

There’s still plenty to be determined in the overall playoff picture over the final week of the regular season, so not only are we getting more contests to gamble on, but the stakes will be high as well. While we wait for Pittsburgh and Cleveland to put a bow on Week 17, let’s take a quick look ahead and see what the lines are for the coming week as we wrap up the 2021 regular season.   

Week 18 early odds

(All lines from Caesars Sportsbook, all games on Sunday unless noted)

Chiefs (11-5) at Broncos (7-9), Saturday

Opening line: Chiefs -3

This spread has shot up quite a bit as it’s now Chiefs -10 following Kansas City’s loss to the Bengals, which saw them fall out of the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Chiefs will now likely need to play this game at full speed to give themselves a chance at moving back up in the conference standings and earning that first-round bye along with home-field advantage, so that is likely the root cause for why this number jumped as much as it did. Not only will K.C. be playing out the string, but the Broncos could be starting Brett Rypien in this game after Drew Lock suffered a shoulder injury and with Teddy Bridgewater missing time due to a concussion. Kansas City comes into Week 18 with a 4-1 ATS mark in the division this season. 

Cowboys (11-5) at Eagles (9-7), Saturday

Opening line: Cowboys -3.5

Dallas came out flat in Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals and lost a chance at jumping up to the No. 1 seed in the NFC (which has since been locked up by Green Bay). With the division clinched, there may not be too much for Dallas to play for other than possibly jumping up from the No. 4 seed to the No. 3 seed. That could be part of the reason why this number has ticked down a half-point to Cowboys -3. The Eagles have also secured a playoff spot, so they may be looking to rest some starters as well. Dallas is 7-1 ATS on the road this season, while the Eagles are 3-3-1 ATS at home. 

Packers (13-5) at Lions (2-13-1)

Opening line: Packers -11

The Packers don’t have much of anything to play for after they clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC in Week 17, so you could see them rest several key players in the regular-season finale, which will bring this spread down quite a bit from its opening number of Packers -11. The Lions have been a scrappy team all season with a 10-6 ATS record that includes a 5-2 ATS mark at home, making them an attractive look in this final slate.  

Colts (9-7) at Jaguars (2-14)

Opening line: Colts -8.5

Indy is currently in the playoffs but does not have a playoff spot clinched at the moment, which means they’ll likely not rest their starters in this game against Jacksonville. Because of this, the spread has jumped tremendously to Colts -15.5. While that may seem like a massive number, the Jaguars had a similar spread going into their Week 17 matchup with the Patriots and were blown out by 40 points. The Colts are 6-0 ATS in their last six road games and 6-1 ATS in their last seven as a road favorite. Meanwhile, Jacksonville has failed to cover in its last seven games. 

Washington (6-10) at Giants (4-12)

Opening line: Washington -4

This spread has ticked up to Washington -6.5, which could be thanks to New York continuing to swirl down the sink. The Giants lost their fifth game in a row and were unable to score double digits for the third time over that stretch as they fell to the Bears, 29-3. Mike Glennon threw for just 24 yards in the loss to go along with two interceptions. When you get that kind of quarterback play, you’re never going to win or even think about covering the spread. The Giants are 3-4 ATS at home this season and are taking on a Washington team that is 5-2-1 ATS over its last eight games. 

Bears (6-10) at Vikings (7-9)

Opening line: Vikings -6

Chicago has now won back-to-back games and appears to be ending its season on as big of a high note as a 6-10 team can as they travel to take on the Vikings. Minnesota was just knocked out of playoff contention with its loss to the Packers in Week 17, so they’ll be playing out the string. The status of Kirk Cousins — who missed Week 17 due to COVID-19 protocols — will also be worth monitoring throughout the week. The Vikings are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games as a home favorite and 3-8 ATS in their last 11 home games overall. 

Panthers (5-11) at Buccaneers (12-4)

Opening line: Buccaneers -16.5

With the No. 1 seed no longer in play, this spread in favor of the Buccaneers has effectively been split in half to -8. This could be a situation where Bruce Arians elects to rest a chunk of his starters to prepare for the playoff run, which naturally gives Carolina a bit more of a puncher’s chance. The Panthers are 5-1 ATS in their last six road games against teams with a running record but have struggled as of late as they have failed to cover in their last six games. Meanwhile, the Bucs have been great at home as they are 5-1 ATS in their six contests at Raymond James Stadium. 

Patriots (10-6) at Dolphins (8-8)

Opening line: Patriots -2.5

The Patriots clinched a playoff spot in Week 17, but there is still plenty to play for in Week 18 as they could still win the division and there’s even an outside chance of leaping back up to the No. 1 seed in the AFC. With those stakes laid out there, this spread has moved up to Patriots -6.5 as they travel down to Miami to face the Dolphins, who were eliminated from the playoffs this weekend. Miami has played well at home as of late as they are 4-1 ATS in its last five games at Hard Rock Stadium, but New England has also been solid on the road (4-1 ATS) and has covered in eight of its previous 10 games. 

Saints (8-8) at Falcons (7-9)

Opening line: Saints -3.5

New Orleans is not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet, so they will be going full speed against the Falcons to end the regular season. That has this spread up to Saints -4.5. Atlanta is 0-6 ATS at home this season, while New Orleans has played extremely well on the road, covering in five of its eight games. They have also had straight-up wins in three of their last four games coming into Week 18.   

Titans (11-5) at Texans (4-12)

Opening line: Titans -9.5

Tennessee has found itself slotted back as the No. 1 seed in the AFC following the events of Week 18. They’ll now head to Houston with a chance to lock up home-field advantage and could be doing so with star running back Derrick Henry back in the fold, ready to shake some rust off before the playoffs. All that has this spread up to Titans -10.5. Both of these teams have played the AFC South well as the Titans are 4-1 ATS within the division over their last five games and the Texans are 5-2 ATS in their last seven. However, Tennessee has struggled as a road favorite as they own a 2-5 ATS record in their last seven games in that setting. 

Steelers (7-7-1) at Ravens (8-8)

Opening line: Ravens -6

Even with the Steelers having yet to play in Week 17, this spread has already fallen to Ravens -4.5. Baltimore is still alive in the playoff picture but would need a lot of help to get in. Depending on the results of Monday’s game against Cleveland, there’s also an outside shot for Pittsburgh to make it into the playoffs as well. The Steelers are under .500 against the spread on the road this season at 3-4, while the Ravens are 5-3 ATS at home. The major X-factor will be the status of Lamar Jackson as he continues to miss time due to injury. 

Jets (4-12) at Bills (10-6)

Opening line: Bills -17

The Bills need a win to secure the AFC East, so they are still sitting as monster favorites over the Jets in Week 18. Buffalo was able to get a win against the Falcons, but it wasn’t pretty as Josh Allen threw three interceptions and largely did his damage as a runner. Meanwhile, New York has shown some flashes down the stretch and nearly beat Tom Brady and the Bucs on Sunday, so this could be an intriguing spot to bet the Jets +17. Against teams with a winning record, New York is 5-2 ATS. While the Bills are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven games in the division, they are also 1-4-1 ATS in their last six games following a win. 

Bengals (10-6) at Browns (7-8)

Opening line: Browns -1.5

Cincinnati is getting hot at the perfect time and just took down the Chiefs to secure the AFC North for the first time since 2015. With nothing to play for in Week 18, you will likely see Zac Taylor rest some key players, which is why this spread has moved to Browns -3. Cincinnati is 5-1 ATS in its last six road games and has covered in five of its last seven overall. As a home favorite, the Browns are 1-4 ATS. 

49ers (9-7) at Rams (12-4)

Opening line: Rams -6

This game does mean a lot to both clubs. For the 49ers, they are simply looking to keep their playoff hopes alive, while the Rams could fall out of first place in the NFC West with a loss. The status of Jimmy Garoppolo will certainly be worth watching as this week progresses, but quarterback play should be a concern for both teams. Matthew Stafford hasn’t looked particularly sharp over the last few weeks, despite the Rams ripping off five in a row. The veteran quarterback has thrown six interceptions over the last three weeks. That could be part of the reason why this spread has dipped to Rams -5.5. Meanwhile, the Niners are 6-2 ATS over their last eight games.

Seahawks (6-10) at Cardinals (11-5)

Opening line: Cardinals -5

Arizona could put itself in a position to win the division if they are able to take care of business against Seattle. That might be easier said than done, however, as Arizona has not played particularly well at home this season and are 0-4 ATS in their last four games at State Farm Stadium. They are also 1-5 ATS in their last six games as a favorite. What could help them, however, is Seattle possibly snoozing through this final game as they’ve been eliminated from the playoff for a while. The Seahawks are also 3-12 ATS following a straight-up win and are just .500 on the road this season against the spread. 

Chargers (9-7) at Raiders (9-7)

Opening line: Chargers -2.5

The Chargers and Raiders will finish up the regular season on Sunday night and both AFC West teams are looking to punch their ticket into the playoffs. This line has since moved to Chargers -3. This season, L.A. is 0-2 ATS as a road favorite and is just a game over .500 ATS on the season away from SoFi Stadium. Meanwhile, the Raiders are 3-5 ATS at home this season and haven’t played particularly well within the division, owning a 2-5 ATS mark in their last seven games against the AFC West. 

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