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NFL Week 18 Playoff Preview and Free Picks

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 8:20 am by Gambyl Nation Editorial Team

Heading into Week 18 of the 2024 NFL season, the playoff picture is still as unpredictable as the play calling of NFL referees, with a record-tying 20 teams 🀯 still in contention for a trip to the Super Bowl.

Nine franchises have already clinched a postseason appearance, while five other bids, including four division titles, remain unclaimed.

Sunday January 7 Update: The Steelers are still in contention for a Wildcard playoff spot. The Colts couldn’t pull off a late rally and the Texans clinch their playoff berth.

What’s Inside – NFL Week 18 Free Betting Picks

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All Week 18 Game Odds in Decimal Odds Format
All Week 18 Game Odds in American Odds Format

A Record-Setting NFL Playoff Picture

In the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens (13-3) have clinched the No. 1 seed, the AFC North division title, a first-round bye, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) have clinched the AFC West division title. The Cleveland Browns (11-5) and Miami Dolphins (11-5) have also secured playoff berths [2].

The Buffalo Bills (10-6) can clinch the AFC East title with a win against the Miami Dolphins. They can also secure a playoff berth with a tie, or if the Steelers or Jaguars lose or tie, or if the Texans-Colts game ends in a tie [1][3].

In the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers (12-4) have locked up the No. 1 seed, the NFC West division title, a first-round bye, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Dallas Cowboys (11-5), Detroit Lions (11-5), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8) are the other division leaders.

The Philadelphia Eagles (11-5) and Los Angeles Rams (9-7) have clinched wild-card spots [4].

But there’s more, alot more, 10 teams are still in the hunt for the remaining playoff spots. In the AFC, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, and Pittsburgh Steelers are all vying for the final three postseason positions[9]. In the NFC, the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, and Atlanta Falcons are still in contention[6].

What happens in these Week 18 games will determine the final playoff spots and seeds.

The winner of the Bills-Dolphins game will clinch the AFC East division title.

The Jaguars can clinch the AFC South division with a win over the Titans. The winner of the Colts-Texans game will clinch a wild-card berth and can clinch the AFC South title with a Jacksonville loss [9].

In the NFC, the Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a win at the Commanders or an Eagles loss at the Giants. The Buccaneers can clinch the NFC South with a win at the Panthers or a Saints loss or tie[10].

Week 18 will be a rollercoaster wrap-up to a rollercoaster regular season, with most teams still fighting for their playoff lives and division titles up for grabs.

Editor’s Note to Sports Betting Fans: since this is going to be a crazy weekend of NFL playoff football, check back here regularly for updated odds, lines and picks from the Gambyl Sports Betting Exchange team.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans

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When?
Sunday, January 8 at 1:00 pm ET in Nissan Stadium

Moneyline odds
Titans 2.27 
Jaguars 1.64

Where Can I Watch it?  NFL on DAZN and FOX

The Tennessee Titans will close the season as one of the worst teams in the NFL, as evidenced by their 5-11 record. They have three losses in a row and occupy the last place in the American South Division, so they will only play the role of judge against the Jaguars. They have three games without surpassing 20 points scored.

Jacksonville Jaguars is one of the NFL’s entertainers and currently leads the South with a 9-7 record, the same as the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans. They have the easiest opponent in the group and will close as visitors, which has been good for them throughout the campaign (5-2).

Titans vs. Jaguars Betting Pick: Jaguars

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

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When? 
Sunday, January 8 at 1:00 pm ET in Caesars Stadium

Moneyline odds: 
Saints 1.64 
Falcons 2.27

Where Can I Watch it?  NFL on DAZN and FOX

The New Orleans Saints took advantage of their game last week and defeated the Buccaneers to extend the fight for the National South until the last game. Their record is 8-8, and they are 4-3 at home.

The Atlanta Falcons seemed to be a candidate to win the division but their season was marked by irregularity. So, they lost the possibility of going to the postseason. The Falcons have been in poor shape away from home, as their record is 2-6.

Saints vs. Falcons Betting Pick: Saints

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

When? 
Sunday, January 8 at 4:25 pm ET at MetLife Stadium

Moneyline odds: 
Giants 3.46 
Eagles 1.31

Where Can I Watch it?  NFL on DAZN and FOX

The New York Giants have had several irregular years, and this season was no exception, as evidenced by their 5-11 record. They have no chance of qualifying, have lost more at home than they have won (3-4), and to make matters worse, they have a three-game losing streak.

The Philadelphia Eagles have not had the expected closing of the season, which is why they have lost the first place in the National Eastern Division. They have found defeat in four of their last five games, and their current record is 11-5. Away from home, they have won five times and lost in three opportunities.

Giants vs. Eagles Betting Pick: Eagles

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins

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When? Sunday, January 8 at 8:20 pm ET in Hard Rock Stadium

Moneyline odds: 
Dolphins 2.00 
Bills 1.83

Where Can I Watch it?  NFL on DAZN and FOX

The Miami Dolphins have had a season according to expectations, which is why they arrived at the last week with the lead in the American East. The only drawback of the Florida team is their terrible record against good teams, although their home has been a fortress (7-1). If they lose, they will be second in the division.

The Buffalo Bills were doomed to second place before the beginning of December, but a four-game winning streak against powerful teams such as the Eagles, Chiefs, and Cowboys, in addition to the weak Patriots, left them on a platter to take first place. Even more, the Bills could take the division; if they carry this kind of performance against elite rivals in the postseason, they’ll rush their way to the Super Bowl. Keep in mind that, away from home, the Bills have a losing 3-4 record.

Dolphins vs. Bills Betting Pick: Bills

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

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The Steelers are predicted to win by more than a field goal but less than a touchdown, with a spread of -3.5 points, which translates to American odds of -175. The over/under for the game is set at 37.5 points.

The Ravens have already secured the No. 1 seed in the AFC and are likely to rest some of their key players. Despite this, the Ravens have a strong record against the spread this year (11-5-0) and have won both games they’ve played as underdogs this season. The Steelers, on the other hand, are still battling for a playoff spot and have won consecutive games as underdogs.

Considering the Ravens’ strong performance against the spread and the possibility of them resting starters, along with the Steelers’ need for a win, our betting pick leans towards the Steelers covering the spread. The Ravens’ ability to perform well, even as underdogs, shouldn’t be underestimated.

For the over/under, take the over on 37.5 points, which would be WAY over the over/under line. This assumes that the Ravens will play at full strength, which probably won’t happen.

Steelers at Ravens Free Pick

Take the Steelers to win and cover the spread, but the Ravens’ track record against the spread and uncertainty regarding their lineup could make this game a close one. The over/under is more uncertain, but our prognosticators predict the total points will be at least 40.

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

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This is a significant one, folks. Both teams are sitting at 9-7 and it’s a “win and you’re in” scenario for the playoffs. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

The Colts are a 1-point favorite over the Texans, with the over/under set at 47 points. But let’s not forget, the Texans are coming off a solid 26-3 win against the Tennessee Titans, and they’ve been tough on the road within the division, having won 7 straight.

The Colts are coming off a narrow 23-20 win against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Texans have been a bit shaky against the Colts in the past, going 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games against them. But they’ve been strong on the road, going 7-3 ATS in their last 10 road games.

Now, let’s talk about the over/under. The total is sitting at 47 points, and the under has hit in 5 of the Texans’ last seven games. But, the Texans’ games have gone over the point total six times in 16 opportunities this season (37.5%).

NFL Week 18 Power Rankings

Power Rankings by Tom Grossi from Packers Nation on YouTube

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

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The Saints are sitting at 8-8 and are the favorites here, expected to win by a field goal (-3), with the total points predicted to be 42. The Saints have a 59.2% chance to win, and they’re coming off a solid 23-13 win against the Bucs.

The Falcons, on the other hand, are 7-9 after a rough 37-17 loss to the Bears. They’ve been a bit inconsistent, but they’ve shown they can put up a fight, especially against division rivals. Plus, they’ve won the first half in each of their last five games following a loss, which shows they can bounce back.

The Saints have been a bit shaky against the spread as favorites following a road win, failing to cover in their last seven games in that situation. But they’ve got a strong record of scoring the first touchdown in their home games against the Falcons, doing so in seven of their last nine matchups.

So, what’s the play? I’m leaning towards the Saints to cover the spread. They’re at home, they’ve got a playoff spot on the line, and they’ve historically had the upper hand against the Falcons. As for the total, I’m thinking the under might be the way to go. Both teams have hit the under more often than not this season, and with the pressure of this game, defenses could tighten up.

Falcons at Saints Free Pick

The Saints look like to have the edge in this one. Grab the Saints on the moneyline and the under for two units.

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

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The Browns are coming into this game with an impressive 11-5 record and a four-game winning streak, while the Bengals are sitting at 8-8.

The Bengals are the favorites here, with odds of -275 on the moneyline, meaning you’d need to bet $275 to win $100. The Browns, on the other hand, are at +220, so a $100 bet on them would net you $220 if they pull off the upset. The spread is set at Bengals -6, and the over/under is at 39 points.

Now, let’s consider some key factors. The Browns have already clinched their playoff spot and might rest their starters for this game. The Bengals, meanwhile, are out of playoff contention but will likely play inspired football to end their season on a positive note.

Looking at the over/under, the Browns have had 10 of their 16 games this season go over the point total, while the Bengals have seen nine of their 16 games hit the over.

Given the Browns’ likely strategy of resting their starters, I’m leaning towards the Bengals to cover the spread. They’re playing at home and will be motivated to end their season on a high note. As for the total, I’m thinking the over might be the play. Both teams have a tendency to hit the over, and with the Browns’ backups in, we could see some unexpected points on the board.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans

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The Jaguars are favored by 3.5 points in this one, and they’re sitting at -185 on the moneyline. Translation: the Jags are expected to win, and if you’re betting on them to do just that, you’d need to lay down $185 to pocket a cool $100 in profit. The Titans, meanwhile, are the underdogs at +150 on the moneyline, which means a $100 bet on them would net you $150 if they manage to upset the Jaguars.

The Jags are coming off a shutout win, and they’re gunning for the AFC South title with a victory here. The Titans, on the flip side, are licking their wounds after a loss to the Texans. But here’s the thing: the Titans have a solid record against the spread as home underdogs, and divisional games can get tricky.

So, where does that leave us with our pick? If you’re feeling the Jaguars, betting on them to cover the spread could be your play, especially since they’ve got that division title in their sights. But if you’re sensing an upset or at least a close game, taking the Titans with the points might be the savvy move.

As for the over/under at 40 points, it’s a bit of a toss-up. Both teams have had their share of low-scoring affairs, but with the stakes this high, we could see some offensive fireworks or some tight, defensive play.

In summary, if you’re betting on the Jags to win outright at -185, you’re looking at a potential $100 profit on a $185 bet. But if you’ve got a hunch on the Titans at +150, that same $100 could turn into $150 if Tennessee pulls off the win.

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

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The Lions are favored by 3.5 points, with a moneyline of -200, you’d need to wager $200 to win $100 if Detroit comes out on top. On the other hand, the Vikings are the underdogs at +165, so a $100 bet on Minnesota would net you $165 if they pull off the upset.

The Vikings are coming off a tough 33-10 loss against the Green Bay Packers, while the Lions narrowly lost 20-19 to the Dallas Cowboys. The Lions have been performing well at home this season, with a 5-2 overall record and 4-3 against the spread. The Vikings, however, have been struggling recently, riding a three-game losing streak into this matchup.

The over/under for this game is set at 44 points. Both teams have had their share of high-scoring games, with the Lions going over the total in five of their seven home games this season[2]. The Vikings, on the other hand, have hit the over in six of their 16 games this season.

If you’re feeling the Lions, betting on them to cover the spread could be a solid play, especially given their strong home record. But if you’re sensing an upset, taking the Vikings with the points might be the savvy move.As for the over/under, it’s a bit of a toss-up. Both teams have had their share of high-scoring games, but with the stakes this high, we could see some offensive fireworks or some tight, defensive play.

If you’re betting on the Lions to win outright at -200, you’re looking at a potential $100 profit on a $200 bet. But if you’ve got a hunch on the Vikings at +165, that same $100 could turn into $165 if Minnesota pulls off the win.

Vikings at Lions Betting Pick

Take the Lions to cover the spread and consider the over on the total points.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers

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The Bucs are the favored winners here. BetAdrian oddsmakers have the Buccaneers at -5.5 points, with the over/under set at 37.5 points. The Buccaneers are -250 on the moneyline, which means a $250 bet would return $100 in profit if Tampa Bay wins. Conversely, the Panthers are at +200 on the moneyline, offering a potential $200 profit on a $100 wager if they come out on top.

The Buccaneers, despite a loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 17, can clinch the NFC South title with a win. The Panthers, after a shutout loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, will aim to finish their season with a win for pride.

Given the Buccaneers’ edge and the potential significance of the game for their playoff position, the smart money might be on Tampa Bay to cover the spread. With the over/under set at 37.5, the expectation is for a relatively low-scoring affair, but with both teams playing for pride, there could be value in betting the over.

Bucs at Panthers Pick Betting Pick

Take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to cover the -5.5 spread. For the total points, consider betting the over on 37.5 points.

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers

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We have a classic NFC North rivalry on our hands as the Chicago Bears (7-9) visit the Green Bay Packers (8-8), playing at a likely frosty Lambeau Field.

The Packers are coming off a convincing 33-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, with Jordan Love throwing for 256 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Bears are riding high after a 37-17 win against the Atlanta Falcons.

Despite the Bears’ recent success, the Packers have dominated this matchup in recent history, winning their last five meetings.

The Packers are favored by 3 points, with decimal odds of 1.95 (-105 in American odds). This means that a $100 bet on the Packers to cover the spread would return approximately $95 in profit if they win by more than 3 points.

On the other hand, the Bears are the underdogs with decimal odds of 1.87 (+140 in American odds). A $100 bet on the Bears would net you around $140 in profit if they manage to win or lose by less than 3 points. The over/under is 44 points.

The Bears have pretty much been eliminated from the playoffs. They have a very slim chance of making the postseason, but it would mean a highly unlikely series of events coming together, including a tie in the Packers-Vikings game. It’s safe to say that the Bears are not in a wildcard race. Meanwhile the Packers have a shot at securing the third wildcard spot with a win.

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers

Given the Packers’ recent dominance in this matchup and their strong performance last week, our pick is on Green Bay to cover the -3 spread. Take the Packers to cover the -3 spread. This is strong bet and you’d want to take double your units and play it here. The Pack will be out for blood and a shot in the post-season.

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Commanders

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We’ve got another classic NFC East rivalry on our hands as the Dallas Cowboys (11-5) visit the Washington Commanders (4-12) at FedEx Field.

The Cowboys are coming off a narrow 20-19 victory over the Detroit Lions, while the Commanders are looking to bounce back from a 27-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The Cowboys are big favorites in this matchup, with a spread of -13. They’re -800 on the moneyline, which means you would need to bet $800 to win $100. On the other hand, the Commanders are +550, which means a $100 bet would net you $550 if they pull off the upset. The over/under for this game is set at 46 points.

The Cowboys are playing for the NFC East title and a No. 2 seed in the upcoming playoffs. The Commanders, on the other hand, have nothing to play for but pride and the chance to play spoiler. Dallas have a strong offense, averaging 367.3 yards per game, and they’ll be facing the worst defense in the league, with Washington allowing 385.8 total yards per game.

While the Cowboys are the clear favorites, the Commanders have shown resilience in the past and could cover the spread. However, given the Cowboys’ strong offense and the Commanders’ struggling defense, the smart money is on the Cowboys.

We do our homework.
[1] https://www.newsweek.com/nfl-playoff-picture-guide-postseason-clinching-scenarios-week-18-games-1857257
[2] https://theathletic.com/5173528/2024/01/01/nfl-week-18-playoff-scenarios/
[3] https://ftw.usatoday.com/lists/nfl-playoff-scenarios-week-18-clinching-teams
[4] https://bleacherreport.com/articles/10103165-nfl-playoff-picture-2024-week-18-standings-afc-and-nfc-wild-card-hunt
[5] https://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2024/1/3/24023581/nfl-week-18-playoff-elimination-scenarios
[6] https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2024/01/02/nfl-playoff-scenarios-week-18/
[7] https://www.reddit.com/r/nfl/comments/18vrav6/nps_full_week_18_playoff_scenarios_every_game_has/?rdt=42165
[8] https://www.nfl.com/news/the-first-read-what-s-at-stake-in-the-nfl-playoff-race-in-week-18-plus-risers-sl
[9] https://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nfl/2024/01/01/nfl-playoff-picture-week-18-afc-postseason-standings-clinch-scenarios/72077184007/
[10] https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/nfl-week-18-playoff-clinching-scenarios-bills-dolphins-winner-takes-afc-east-packers-in-postseason-with-win/
[11] https://bleacherreport.com/articles/10103424-nfl-playoff-picture-2024-updated-afc-nfc-wild-card-bracket-ahead-of-week-18
[12] https://bleacherreport.com/articles/10103260-nfl-playoff-picture-2024-latest-super-bowl-bracket-and-afc-nfc-scenarios
[13] https://www.si.com/nfl/2024/01/01/2023-nfl-playoff-picture-division-titles-playoff-berths-at-stake-ravens-49ers
[14] https://www.foxsports.com.au/nfl/nfl-2024-playoff-picture-buffalo-bills-week-18-schedule-postseason-implications-scores-who-is-eliminated-who-is-still-alive-playoff-scenarios/news-story/1a4ffe5211dd098210ac5351929b950d

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