NFL Picks Week #18 (2021 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #18)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Thursday January 6th, 2021 at 1 PM Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
I took a break to spend more time with my family during the Holidays, which is why I didn’t post picks in Week 17 (although I did end up recommending to bet the Chargers -7.5 against the Broncos and over 23.5 points in the first half of the Bucs versus Jets game to my paid members on Patreon – both winners).
The last time I published free picks, we came back to Earth by going 0-for-3, ouch! Still, overall this season, our free picks against the spread have produced a nice 31-23-1 record, a 57% winning rate.
It’s time to roll up our sleeves and finish this lucrative season with a bang. Below you will find my top 3 picks for Week 18 in the National Football League. Enjoy!
PICK #1 (4 STARS): ARIZONA CARDINALS -6.5 VS SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
The Cards started the season with a 7-0 record, but have gone 4-5 since then. Their win in Dallas last week should boost their confidence greatly, and I believe it will carry into their Week 18’s meeting with Seattle.
Arizona has crushed many of their opponents this year. Indeed, 9 of their 11 wins came by a 7-point margin or more.
The Seahawks have nothing to play for, and have lots of players who are uncertain to play. On the offensive line, 4 of the 5 starters are either out or listed as questionable. On defense, Seattle has six key guys who may not suit up this Sunday: Bobby Wagner, Carlos Dunlap, Quandre Diggs, Sidney Jones, D.J. Reed and Al Woods. Boy, that’s a lot to overcome against a top NFL team!
Granted, the Seahawks have historically performed well as road underdogs. As a matter of fact, they are 11-5 ATS in such circumstances lately. However, they have failed to beat the spread in each of the past five games on the road against teams with a winning record. They are also 3-12 ATS following a straight up win.
So, in summary, I am banking on Arizona due to their higher motivation level, their momentum building and the numerous injuries on Seattle’s side.
PICK #2 (2 STARS): ATLANTA FALCONS +4.5 VS NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
This time, I am betting on a team that has been eliminated facing a squad that still has playoff hopes. And I am putting my money on the Falcons even though they are 1-5 ATS the last six times they hosted New Orleans.
Why? Mostly because I believe the point spread is too big. The Saints don’t have a good offense, and you are asking them to win by five points or more on the road against a division opponent. In my humble opinion, that scenario has less than a 50% chance of happening.
Generally speaking, the Falcons are pretty healthy. They had 13 players on the covid list, but now only have three left on that list. Meanwhile, the Saints have three very good players listed as questionable: defensive end Marcus Davenport, and both tackles on the offensive line, Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead.
New Orleans is pretty stout defending the run. However, Atlanta is much better equipped to throw the ball rather than running it, so I believe they will be able to move the ball enough to keep this game close.
The Saints have done well against the spread as road favorites, while the Falcons have performed badly as home underdogs. Still, I’ll take my chances and back Atlanta in this NFC South showdown.
PICK #3 (1 STAR): BALTIMORE RAVENS -6 VS PITTSBURGH STEELERS
The Steelers lose one day of rest and preparation after playing last Monday. The Ravens will do everything they can to avenge a heart-breaking 20-to-19 loss back in Week 13 when they failed to convert a two-point conversion near the end of the fourth quarter that would have sealed the win.
I also like how these teams match up. Pittsburgh’s running offense, with Najee Harris in the backfield, is more dangerous than its passing offense, especially with its top receiving target, Diontae Johnson, being out. Well, guess what is Baltimore’s strength on defense? That’s right, they rank first in rushing yards allowed per game and third in terms of yards-per-carry allowed. Their pass defense is pretty suspect, but I’m not sure Big Ben can take advantage of it (again, especially without Diontae Johnson on the field).
The Steelers have failed to beat the spread in each of its past four games following a straight up win. Meanwhile, the Ravens are 4-1 ATS following a straight up loss. And Baltimore has rewarded bettors in 8 of their past 11 home games.
For these reasons, I am taking the Ravens -6 points in front of a very motivated crowd that will hope to end Roethlisberger’s career on a sour note.
Just for fun, here are some additional picks that I am NOT betting, but I consider them to be borderline acceptable:
- New York Jets +16.5 at Buffalo Bills (Over the entire season, Zach Wilson has thrown 8 TD passes versus 11 interceptions. However, he has done much better of late, as shown by his 4 TD passes versus just one pick, on top of adding three touchdowns on the ground during this time span. We are expecting big winds in Orchard Park this Sunday, which will severely limit both teams’ passing game. Forcing both teams to run the ball more often will reduce the number of points scored, which is a good thing when you are backing a 16.5-point underdog. I see Buffalo winning by a margin of 7 to 14 points.);
- Miami Dolphins +6.5 vs New England Patriots (The Pats have struggled a lot in Miami in recent years. In fact, they are 2-7 ATS in the past nine seasons. The Dolphins know how to play them tough at home. Miami has a 10-4 home record against the spread the last 14 times they faced a team with a winning record.);
- Las Vegas Raiders +3 vs Los Angeles Chargers (The Chargers have a +18 point differential this season compared to -68 for the Raiders. That in itself was enough to prevent me from pulling the trigger on this one. But if you forced me to bet, I am still leaning towards Vegas. They will be at home in front of a fired up crowd, they could get Darren Waller back, they will be paying tribute to John Madden and they have gone through a lot of difficulties this year. I think Vegas pulls off the upset, or at worst they will lose by three points or less against a vulnerable Chargers defense.);
That wraps up my 2021 regular season NFL picks! I hope you enjoyed my weekly write ups. Obviously, I will be back to provide good insight into each postseason game. A big thank you for reading my articles, I appreciate you my friend!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)