After a long NFL season, Week 18 is finally here. It kicks off with two games on Saturday, followed by a full slate of Sunday games.
The schedule makers tried to do their best by making Saturday one of the more intriguing days. It might not have worked out exactly as planned, but the teams will still need to play hard. They won’t know what’s going on in the games on Sunday. These are the Saturday picks against the spread in the NFL for Week 18.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs -10
The Kansas City Chiefs still have an opportunity to push Tennessee off that #1 spot in the conference. To do so, they need to take care of business on Saturday and hope for the best the following day. With the Chiefs having plenty to play for, is there any way that they drop this contest?
Most people believe that Kansas City will find a way to win this game and pick up their 13th straight win over the Denver Broncos. However, covering a pretty hefty point spread is another issue altogether. They beat the Broncos by 13 a month ago, and that was without Patrick Mahomes having a good game. They relied on their defense to get the job done, limiting Denver to just nine points.
Kansas City‘s defense gets a bit of a boost when Denver announced that Drew Lock will once again get to start over an injured Teddy Bridgewater. While Lock shows promise at the quarterback position at times, he faces a defense that’s motivated and geared towards exploiting any challenges a youngster might have.
Expect the Chiefs to score more than 22 points this time around as well. Denver is dealing with some injury issues, as Patrick Surtain II It’s just one of a few key players missing the regular season finale. It seems unlikely that the defense collectively will be able to limit Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill to under 50 yards receiving.
This is a rivalry game, and plenty of players will be playing for pride on Denver’s side. Don’t expect them to lay down and give up in the finale. With that said, the skill is just not there for them to push through and pick up a victory. Kansas City makes it a non-contest by the second half. They cover the spread and wait around on Sunday to see if the Titans lose to the Texans to open up the #1 spot. Either way, Kansas City convincingly wins and shows the NFL world that they are one of the strongest contenders for the Super Bowl this year.
Pick: Kansas City Chiefs -10
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Cowboys -4
One of the biggest rivalries in the NFL battle it out in primetime on Saturday night. The fight won’t be quite as intense as in previous years. Both teams have little to play for going into the playoffs. That’s not to say that pride won’t kick in for some players. Expect some conservative play-calling and some limited action for stars.
These types of games late in the year are always very tough to predict. Dallas technically has more to play for, as a win and some help on Sunday could get them from the #4 seed you to the #2 seed. The Eagles are pretty much stuck in their position, win or lose.
Dallas coach Mike McCarthy went on record earlier this week saying that his starters will play, focusing on winning this game. That sounds like coach speak in some ways, as the starters could be shut down midway through the game. As for Philadelphia, they seem a little less likely to play some of the best players. Part of this is due to rest, while part of it comes down to at least a dozen players on the COVID-19 list.
Last week didn’t go as plan, as the Arizona Cardinals smoked the cowboys. This is another reason to think that Dallas could come out firing as a more motivated team, as they don’t want to go into the playoffs with two disappointing losses.
What will dictate this game is Dallas‘s defense. They sit tied for the NFL lead with 33 takeaways, but they can’t find any momentum if they don’t force those takeaways in games. In fact, when teams avoid turnover, Dallas seems very mediocre. Their defense gives up points, and that could sink them in the playoffs.
Make sure to pay close attention to any last-second roster announcements in this one. For example, standout linebacker Micah Parsons went on the COVID-19 list on Wednesday. It will not be determined until right before the game whether or not he can play on Saturday. Dallas might not think it’s worth the risk to take a chance on any of their star players, but there’s something to be said for wanting to be sharp and ready to go for the playoffs. Parsons is on record saying he wants to play and compete.
Dallas wins the game because they have more to play for, but it will be fairly close overall. They find a way to win and cover to give themselves a chance to move up in the playoff positioning. They might not be invincible, but Dallas has all the makings for a potential Super Bowl champion. With talks of the Super Bowl possibly moving to their home stadium due to COVID-19 restrictions, this could become an even better opportunity to win their first since 1996.