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NFL

Jan 05, 2022

Total Talk - Week 18

We made it. It's time for Week 18 of the NFL regular season, and we're about to bid adieu to 18 teams who did not qualify for the postseason, with 14 teams advancing on to play for the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, or perhaps somewhere else if COVID forces the league to call an audible.

Hopefully everybody made it through the holidays and New Year happy and healthy, and with a little lettuce in your pocket to bet the final weekend of regular season games. Let's build up that bankroll and get ready for a prosperous run into the playoffs.

The big news this week is that the Tennessee Titans have designated RB Derrick Henry (foot) to return from the reserve/injured list on Wednesday. The team now has 21 days to decide if he'll return to the active roster or not. 

Tennessee averaged 28.4 PPG across eight contests with Henry in the backfield through Oct. 31, and 20.5 PPG in eight games without him, so total bettors need to keep that in mind for when he returns to game action. His presence increases the offensive productivity of the Titans immensely, especially when star WR A.J. Brown is also healthy and available like he is right now.

Largest Movement

Cincinnati at Cleveland: The Bengals wrapped up the AFC North Division title in Week 17 with a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bengals plan to rest QB Joe Burrow (knee) for the regular-season finale against the Browns in a meaningless game for both teams. The Browns also will not have QB Baker Mayfield (shoulder) under center, as it was announced earlier in the week that he will immediately go for surgery to repair the torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder

So we have gone from Burrow vs. Mayfield to QB Brandon Allen vs. QB Case Keenum, and Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said there is a chance rookie WR Ja'Marr Chase is also limited, or he could rest for the entire game.

Anyway, the total plummeted from an open of 44 at most shops, to around 38 as of Wednesday, and it wouldn't be surprising to see it tumble even more. 

The Bengals have hit the OVER in four straight inside the division, but that's with Burrow under center. Even so, the UNDER is 5-2 in the past seven road games, and 6-2 in the past eight against teams with a losing record. The Browns have cashed the UNDER in four of the past five at home, while hitting it in five of the past six games overall.

L.A. Chargers at Las Vegas: The game which has seen the largest rise since the open is this AFC West showdown on Sunday night.

The Chargers and Raiders could possibly be facing each other in a situation where the winner advances to the playoffs, and the loser is left out in the cold, depending on how things break down earlier in the day. 

If the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, and the Indianapolis Colts fall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, then both of these teams will be in. But that seems unlikely, especially the latter part.

The OVER has cashed for the Chargers in five straight outings, going for 34, 29, 28, 37 and 41 points, while allowing 13, 41, 34, 21 and 22. When these teams met in Week 4 in Los Angeles, however, it was a 28-14 win for the Bolts, and an UNDER results.

The UNDER has hit for the Raiders in each of the past three games, and the offense has struggled in the past couple of months. Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia seems content with a more ground-and-pound approach, while using defense to shut the other team down. Vegas is good for 23, 17, 16, 9, 15, 36, 13, 14 and 16 over the previous nine outings.

Division Over-Under Notes

The UNDER went 3-1 in the four NFL Divisional battles in Week 17. All of the matchups in Week 18 pit divisional foes against each other.

Kansas City at Denver (Sat.): These teams met on Sunday Night Football in Week 13 with the Chiefs scratching out a 22-9 win at GEHA Field at Arrowhead as the UNDER comfortably cashed.

That game was actually one of the last we saw of the previously sluggish Kansas City offense, as it has been lights out lately. QB Patrick Mahomes and company finally look like the unit we expected to see all season, going for 31, 36, 34 and 48 across the past four, all OVER results.

The Broncos have been adjusting to life without QB Teddy Bridgewater, who was knocked out of the Cincinnati game Dec. 19 with a concussion. With QB Drew Lock under center, the Broncos finished with 10 in the Week 15 loss to the Bengals, and 13 points in each of the past two divisional games against the Raiders and Chargers, both on the road.

The UNDER is 5-1-1 in the past seven meetings in this series. While the OVER is 7-3 in the past 10 divisional games for the Chiefs, the UNDER is 8-2 in the past 10 overall, 5-1 in the past six as an underdog and 16-6-1 in the past previous 23 divisional tilts.

Dallas at Philadelphia (Sat.): The Cowboys roughed up the Eagles 41-21 in a Week 3 matchup at Jerry World, nearly taking care of the OVER on their own. The Cowboys dropped a season-high 56 points on Washington in Week 16, before tumbling back to Earth in last weekend's seeding showdown against the Arizona Cardinals.

The UNDER is 4-1 across the past five overall for the Cowboys, as the offense has 22, 56, 21, 27 and 27, while the defense has allowed just 25, 14, 6, 20 and 17.

For the Eagles, the OVER has hit in three of the past four games overall, with the offense accounting for 20, 34, 27 and 33 across the past four outings. After a bit of a sluggish start, QB Jalen Hurts and the offense have really jelled nicely as a unit, and they're good for 20 or more points in 13 of the past 14 games, while going for 30 or more points in six of those outings.

The UNDER is 5-2 in the past seven against winning teams for Dallas, while going 5-1 in the past six trips to the City of Brotherly Love.

Indianapolis at Jacksonville: The Colts face a win-and-in scenario against the lowly Jaguars on Sunday. Oddly enough, Indianapolis hasn't won in Jacksonville since 2014, losing six straight. More importantly to us, the OVER is 2-0 in the past two trips to Duval, including a total of 47 points on a 44-point total in Week 1 of the 2020 regular season.

The Colts enter on a 4-0 UNDER run, posting 20, 22, 27 and 31 during the span, while allowing 23, 16, 17 and 0. A run game plus defense has been winning plenty of games for Indy, and cashing a lot of UNDER tickets in the process.

For the Jaguars, they were steamrolled 50-10 last time out in New England, and the OVER has hit in three straight, as the D is allowing 35.3 PPG during the span after a 8-0 UNDER which includes its 23-17 loss at Indy in the first meeting on Nov. 14.

Chicago at Minnesota: These teams just met on Monday Night Football right before Christmas, and the Vikings scratched out a 17-9 win, with the Bears scoring a touchdown on the final play of regulation. It was an easy UNDER result. That's been the case when these teams get together, as the UNDER is 6-3 across the past nine meetings, although the OVER has hit in each of the past two battles at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Bears have looked good on offense the past couple of games, dropping 29 on the Giants last week behind QB Andy Dalton, while QB Nick Foles led them to 25 points in Seattle the week prior. The UNDER hit against the G-Men last week before New York is a atrocious and the D held the Giants to just three points.

The UNDER is 4-1 in the past five divisional games for the Bears, while it's all about the OVER for the Vikings lately. The OVER is 6-1 in Minnesota's past seven games overall, and 9-3 in the past 12 inside the division, while cashing in 11 of the past 16 at home.

Pittsburgh at Baltimore: This is expected to be the final NFL game for QB Ben Roethlisberger unless his team can win, and the Jaguars can somehow upend the Colts in Jacksonville.

The UNDER-OVER has alternated in each of the past six games for the Steelers, cashing the UNDER on Monday vs. Cleveland. The UNDER also hit in Week 13 in the first meeting at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, a game which saw the Ravens try a two-point conversion for the win in the final moments. QB Lamar Jackson couldn't connect with TE Mark Andrews in the flat, and the game ended up 20-19 for an UNDER result. That was huge with a total of 44, as it could have gone another way if OT occurred.

The defense stepped up for Baltimore last week in a 20-19 loss against the Los Angeles Rams. Previously, the Ravens D had been trampled for 41, 31 and 24, all OVER results in the three games prior to Week 17.

Tennessee at Houston: The Titans might have Henry back in a limited fashion for this one, or he could return for the postseason, or not at all. That's still up in the air, but something to watch.

Tennessee owes Houston after a stunning 22-13 upset by the Texans in Nashville in Week 11 in the rain. The Titans were shorthanded in that game, but it's no excuse. The UNDER connected there, and has been the rule lately for Tennessee, going 4-0 in the past four, and 5-1 in the past six, kicked off by that Week 11 shocker.

The Texans posted just seven points in San Francisco last week, hitting the UNDER in the process. The OVER went 3-0 in the previous three games, as the offense had 71 total points in the previous two games. The last time these teams met, it was an UNDER, and three of the past four divisiona games for Houston has tilted to the UNDER.

Washington at N.Y. Giants: The Washington offense has struggled mightily across the past six outings, going for 16, 14, 17, 20, 17 and 17. That's not horrible production, like in the single digits, but not explosive offense, either.

The Giants know all about a lack of explosiveness, as QB Mike Glennon has been a disaster, and when QB Jake Fromm was given a chance, he wasn't much better. The duo is holding down the fort with QB Daniel Jones (neck) shut down. Glennon and the Giants offense produced just three points in Chicago last week, an UNDER result, and the offense has managed just one garbage-time touchdown across the past three games, with a score in the final few minutes of a 34-10 loss at Philadelphia in Week 16. If the defense was better, it would be 3-for-3 on UNDER results, but the UNDER is 2-1 in the past three, and 8-2 across the past 10 outings.

When these teams met in Week 2 on a Thursday, the WFT won 30-29 in an exciting game decided in the last seconds. But that was when the teams were full strength, and still playing with hope. The UNDER is 14-6 in the past 20 meetings overall, and 17-4 in the past 21 meetings in New Jersey.

Green Bay at Detroit: The Packers wrapped up the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC, but QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Davante Adams expect to play in the regular-season finale. The MVP favorite candidate quarterback, unless you ask Chicago sportswriter Hub Arkush, might simply make a cameo with Adams to stay fresh before turning over the keys to the car to QB Jordan Love, however. Just because Rodgers and Adams might play doesn't mean they'll go all the way.

The Green Bay offense has been potent lately, hitting the OVER in each of its past five games played on a Sunday. Their only UNDER in the past six games was a 24-22 win over the Cleveland Browns on Christmas Day, played on a Saturday in Week 16. The offense has scored 37, 24, 31, 45, 36 and 31 across the past six outings. The last time the Packers played the Lions, Green Bay won it 35-17 as the OVER just came through.

Lions QB Jared Goff (COVID, knee) missed the past two games, but he hopes to be able to play in Week 18. QB Tim Boyle started the past two games, and the Lions offense averaged 22.5 PPG in those outings, splitting the OVER-UNDER.

New England at Miami: The Patriots served the Jaguars a 50-burger last week, and New England has cashed the OVER in each of the past two games, scoring a combined total of 71 points while allowing a combined total of 43. The last time they Patriots played the Dolphins was way back in Week 1, a 17-16 upset win in Foxboro in rookie QB Mac Jones' first-ever start.

The Dolphins offense knuckled under the pressure last week, amassing just three points in Nashville in a 34-3 loss as the UNDER hit. The UNDER is 3-1 in the previous four outings, and 7-2 across the past nine games overall for the Dolphins, who are now eliminated from the AFC playoff picture.

The UNDER is 20-8 for the Patriots in the past 28 as a road favorite, while going 22-6 in the past 28 games on a natural grass surface. The UNDER is also 4-1 in the previous five meetings between these two teams, including Week 1.
N.Y. Jets at Buffalo: Jets rookie QB Zach Wilson (knee) missed the Week 10 meeting against the Bills, as QB Mike White was a turnover machine in a 45-17 loss to Buffalo as the OVER easily hit. In fact, the Bills nearly hit it on their own.

The Jets have been fighting to the finish line, jelling under HC Robert Saleh. Wilson and the offense has produced 24, 26 and 24 across the past three outings, all OVER results. The defense has continued to struggle, though, allowing 28, 21, 31, 30 and 33 across the past five contests.

The OVER is 4-1 in the past five road games for Gang Green, while going 9-3 in the past 12 as an underdog. The OVER is also 4-0 in New York's past four against winning teams.

Buffalo is still playing for playoff seeding, so they'll be going all out, so that's good news for OVER bettors, especially with a total of 41 on the board as of Thursday morning.

Seattle at Arizona: The Seahawks have come alive in recent weeks, going for 51, 24, 10, 33 and 30 in the previous five outings, hitting the OVER in four of those five contests. The defense has allowed 27.0 PPG in the previous two, as well.

The first time these teams met in the Pacific Northwest, the Cardinals gutted out a 23-13 win as the UNDER cashed. The UNDER has been the rule for Arizona lately, but not why you'd think. The defense has actually alowed 24.7 PPG across the past three outings, while the offense is good for just 17.7 PPG during the span.

For Seattle, the UNDER is 7-1 in the past eight games on the road, while also going 7-1 in the past eight as an underdog. The UNDER is 4-1 in the past five divisional games, too. For Arizona, UNDER is 11-5 in the past 16 games against losing teams, while going 4-1 in the past five meetings, and 5-1 in the past six in the series played in Arizona.

New Orleans at Atlanta: The Saints have been scoring infrequently while using defense to win ball games and stay in the NFC playoff picture. That's a perfect recipe for UNDER bettors, too.

The Saints have scored 18, 3, 9, 30, 17 and 6 across the past six outings, allowing just 10, 20, 0, 9, 27 and 31 during the span. It's no surprise the UNDER is a perfect 6-for-6 in those games.

In the first meeting between these teams, we had a 27-25 win by the Falcons, an OVER result. Atlanta's offense has also hit the skids, managing just 15, 20, 13, 29, 17, 21, 0 and 3 across the past eight games, hitting the UNDER in seven of the outings. The OVER on Nov. 7 in New Orleans was just the second OVER since Week 7.

The UNDER is 8-2 in the past 10 games inside the NFC South for the Saints, while going 9-4 in their past 13 on the road. The UNDER is 4-0 in the past four at home for the Falcons, while going 5-1 in the past six as an underdog.

San Francisco at L.A. Rams: The 49ers grinded out a 23-7 win over the Texans last week to hit the UNDER, going 4-0 in the previous four outings. That's because the defense has stepped up, allowing just 15.8 PPG during the four-game stretch.

The last time these teams met, the 49ers won 31-10 as the UNDER connected on MNF in Week 10. The UNDER has hit in three straight meetings in this series, with an average of just 41.3 total points per game in those battles.

The UNDER is 5-1 in San Francisco's past six against winning teams, while going 5-1 in the past six as an underdog. The UNDER is also 5-2 in the past seven on the road. For L.A., the UNDER is a ridiculous 17-4 in the past 21 games as a home favorite, and 16-5 in the past 21 games overall at home. The UNDER is 25-9-1 in the past 35 as a favorite, too.

Carolina at Tampa Bay: The Panthers are a rudderless ship right now, wandering aimlessly toward the finish line this NFL season. QB Cam Newton is done, and QB Sam Darnold looks like he is a perennial backup, too. He just isn't it. HC Matt Rhule is hated by the fans in Charlotte, and the offense doesn't appear to be turning a corner anytime soon. Carolina has scored 10, 6, 14, 21 and 10 across the past five. The defense was decent in New Orleans last week, allowing just 18 points, but prior to that, the D coughed up 32, 31, 29 and 33.

These teams just met in Charlotte in Week 16, with the Bucs winning 32-6 as the UNDER connected. The UNDER is 5-1 in the past six games for the Panthers inside the division.

For the Buccaneers, the UNDER is 5-0 in the past five vs. NFC teams, and 6-1 in the past seven against teams with a losing overall record.

Fearless Predictions

Last week's predictions were so-so once again at 2-2 (-10 ), cashing in two of the 'best' picks, but losing one end and the teaser, which was exactly like Week 16. That's OK, as that's still a season total 23-16-1 and (+835). Let's keep building that bankroll for the playoffs and Super Bowl.

  • Best Over: Over 41 N.Y. Jets at Buffalo
  • Best Under: Under 48 Seattle at Arizona
  • Best First-Half Total: Over 19.5 New England at Miami

Three-Team Total Teaser (+7, +135)

  • Over 34 N.Y. Jets at Buffalo
  • Over 33 New England at Miami
  • Under 50 Tennessee at Houston



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