With the NFL wrapping up its first-ever 18-week regular season, a number of teams are jostling for position to close out the year strong. Week 18 will be a pivotal final stand for many squads looking to make that final playoff push. While the majority of the divisional championships are locked down at this point, a fair amount of teams will still be in the hunt for the final three wild card playoff spots.
Below we take a closer look into what the favorite matchup of the week looks like along with the top underdog to emerge victorious and most favorable over/under lines of the final week of the regular season.
|Patriots vs. Dolphins||Patriots -6||-116||-116||-116|
|Saints vs. Falcons||Falcons +4.5||-110||-110||-110|
|Chargers vs.Raiders||Over 48.5||-110||-110||-110|
|Chiefs vs. Broncos||Under 43.5||-110||-110||-110|
In a game that pretty much no one saw coming, the Dolphins will enter the final week of the regular season still alive for postseason contention. After starting the year with a seven-game losing streak, Miami was able to turn it around with a seven-game winning streak, the first team in NFL history to ever do so. With New England falling to Miami earlier in the year by one point, the Patriots are looking for revenge and to solidify their playoff seeding in the final week. With the game being played in Miami this time, look for both squads to put up points under the Florida sun.
Prediction: While the Dolphins have normally been a historic late-season foil for the Pats, it is incredibly hard to beat a Bill Belichick-led squad twice in one season.
While both New Orleans and Atlanta will miss the postseason this year, the two teams are still playing for pride in their final matchup of the 2021 regular season. Atlanta was able to knock off the Saints earlier this year in a wild contest in NOLA. Though the Saints’ comeback attempt fell short in their first matchup (New Orleans scored 22 points in the fourth quarter), they still made for a tough foe for the Falcons. In a division (the NFC South) that is hard to pin down past Tampa Bay, this matchup is a toss-up for many.
Prediction: Given the home field and points advantages, look for the Falcons to once again squeak past the Saints, especially given the uncertainty at the quarterback position for New Orleans.
Perhaps the game that has the most postseason implications, Chargers vs. Raiders will be must-watch entertainment. If Los Angeles can win this game, they are assured a postseason berth for the first time since 2018. On the flipside, Las Vegas will be looking to play spoiler in the team’s second and final matchup of the season. Back in October, the Chargers were able to hold off the Raiders on Monday Night Football, 28-14. This should be another high-flying contest with both teams featuring strong passers in Justin Herbert (Los Angeles) and Derek Carr (Las Vegas).
Prediction: With both of these teams looking to end their regular season with a bang and a postseason berth, no punches will be pulled in Las Vegas so look for the two squads to pull out all the stops.
Our last spotlight of the week, Chiefs vs. Broncos will be a slugfest for all of the wrong reasons. First, Kansas City will be closing in on the number one seed in the playoffs so will be more inclined to rest their best players in the frigid Denver air. Moreover, the Broncos have not been playing their best football to close out the year and this game will have little meaning for Denver other than draft position. Finally, the last time the teams matched up, they combined for 31 points in Kansas City.
Prediction: While there is the possibility that Kansas City could play more of its starters with playoff positioning still uncertain for the best seed in the AFC, look for this game to be a snoozer to close out the AFC West season.
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