Week 18 NFL Game Picks: Chargers beat Raiders to punch playoff ticket; Seahawks defeat Cardinals – NFL.com

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Published: Jan 06, 2022 at 12: 45 PM

Gregg Rosenthal went 12-4 straight up and 7-9 against the spread on his Week 17 NFL picks, bringing his season totals to 150-105-1 and 135-119-1, respectively. How will he fare in Week 18? These are his picks.

The lines below provided by Caesars are current as of Noon ET on Thursday, Jan. 6 unless otherwise noted below.

WHERE: Empower Field at Mile High (Denver)
WHEN: 4: 30 p.m. ET | ESPN
SPREAD: Chiefs -10 | O/U: 44.5

Vic Fangio had to wait until age 60 to get his first head-coaching opportunity. His three-year tenure was filled with what-ifs and will end against a Chiefs problem that his defense couldn’t solve. Fangio has never won against Andy Reid, and Patrick Mahomes has never lost to the Broncos, dating back to the Vance Joseph days. It’s also a strange timing: This season’s first game, it’s clear that Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense are in full swing.

WHERE: Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia)
WHEN: 8: 15 p.m. ET | ESPN
SPREAD: Cowboys -4.5 | O/U: 43

Like a lot of games this week, this prediction is largely about who wants to win. Even before the Eagles opened the week by putting a dozen players on the COVID-19 list, including many starters, I was operating under the assumption they would rest their starters. And while they have one of the best backup quarterbacks in Gardner Minshew, my other assumption is that the Cowboys will want to wipe the stink of their recent offensive showings and give themselves a chance at more home playoff games.

WHERE: Ford Field (Detroit)
WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
SPREAD: Packers -4 | O/U: 44.5

Can Jordan Love and the Packers’ backups beat the Lions? How long does Aaron Rodgers need to play to ensure a victory? These are the weird questions that Week 18 asks. Green Bay’s rush defense may struggle to match Detroit’s ground game even if they play all out. Matt LaFleur talked about how two weeks could be too long, which is different from the “we’ll watch” answers Cincinnati’s Zac Tyler and Philadelphia’s Nick Sirianni gave. I have backed the Lions this year and I can see LaFleur playing Rodgers up to halftime, if not later. This would be enough time to get a huge lead.

WHERE: TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, Fla.)
WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
SPREAD: Colts -15.5 | O/U: 44

Everyone is trotting out the stat that the Jaguars have won six straight home games against the Colts. Doug Marrone, Gus Bradley were the ones who won those wins. This Jacksonville team, however, had possibly its most complete game of the season in a 23-17 loss at Indianapolis back in Week 10. A Colts punt-block touchdown was the difference in a game that was otherwise even. Carson Wentz played poorly that day and the Colts’ offense was a punt machine, so you never know. You probably do.

WHERE: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
SPREAD: Washington -7 | O/U: 38

Washington should be so happy to see the Giants on the schedule, a chance to finish a mostly cursed season with a reminder that things could always be worse.

WHERE: U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis)
WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
SPREAD: Vikings -5.5 | O/U: 44

Kirk Cousins is back. And with Justin Fields hitting the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday, Andy Dalton‘s in line to make another start. Minnesota has a dead team walking vibe that makes an ugly end possible, but its ceiling is so much higher than Chicago’s on both sides of the ball. Just look at the teams’ first matchup last month — perhaps the worst prime-time game of the season — and how the Vikings won despite their offense being at its poorest.

WHERE: NRG Stadium (Houston)
WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
SPREAD: Titans -10 | O/U: 43

The Texans beat the Titans convincingly when Tennessee’s roster was at a low point in availability. The Texans’ performance has improved over time, but the Titans treat Sunday as a playoff game. It’s simple: Beat the brakes off Houston and automatically advance to the Divisional Round as the AFC’s No. 1 seed. Although the Texans defense may keep it low scoring for a while but Tennessee’s “big guys will push you around” approach on both lines should be enough.

WHERE: M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore)
WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
SPREAD: Ravens -6 | O/U: 41.5

It felt like the Steelers won their playoff game Monday night. They now face the decimated Ravens team, which still has very faint playoff hopes. Baltimore, unlike Cleveland, will not forget to test Pittsburgh’s run defense. Moral victories for all in the AFC North (Except for the Browns. )

WHERE: FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland)
WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
SPREAD: Browns -6 | O/U: 38

Tricky one. Because Vegas didn’t play their starters, the Browns were favorites to open as favorites. Cincinnati weirdly flipped to becoming the favorite early in the week when a lot of people mistakenly believed Joe Burrow was in line to play. With Burrow poised to get rest, most of the best Bengals players are probably in the same boat. Case Keenum is an upgrade on Baker Mayfield, and the Bengals will likely know by kickoff they can’t nab the No. 1 seed.

WHERE: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)
WHEN: 4: 25 p.m. ET | FOX
SPREAD: 49ers +4.5 | O/U: 44.5

This point spread cares not for the Rams’ five-game losing streak to the 49ers, which I find a lot more instructive than most historical stats. The coaches are the same. The Rams’ strengths and weaknesses are the same. The Rams have struggled with the 49ers’ size for years, and the possibility of Trey Lance starting will only help San Francisco’s running game. Then again, Matthew Stafford was only around for one of these games, the Rams’ defense is quietly peaking and this game is for the division title on L.A.’s side. Although I prefer the Niners to cover more than either team should win, this Rams team has been very resourceful in the fourth quarter.

WHERE: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Fla.)
WHEN: 4: 25 p.m. ET | CBS
SPREAD: Buccaneers -8 | O/U: 41.5

The Bucs could finish anywhere from the No. 52022

The Bucs could finish anywhere from the No. 4 seed. Considering their 6-1 home record and offensive style, they may just play Tom Brady for the chance for an extra home playoff game. It may take only four quarters to build a large lead against the Panthers. Brady and Bruce Arians have beaten Matt Rhule’s Panthers three times by an average of 21 points over the last two years, including 32-6 two weeks ago. This one will be updated later in the week.

WHERE: State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)
WHEN: 4: 25 p.m. ET | FOX
SPREAD: Seahawks +6.5 | O/U: 48

My friend Cynthia Frelund’s model has loved the Cardinals all season, and with good reason. With all the injuries facing Arizona’s squad, 6.5 points seems a bit too high. Colt McCoy helped take apart this Seahawks defense during the Cards’ 10-point win back in Week 11, but that was before Rashaad Penny turned into Derrick Henry.

WHERE: Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
WHEN: 4: 25 p.m. ET | CBS
SPREAD: Patriots -6.5 | O/U: 40

It’s not that I don’t believe in what the Dolphins accomplished during their winning streak. Tua Tagovailoa will play better in better conditions this week, and the Miami defense won’t give up much through the air. The Patriots’ offensive ceiling is just so much higher. They can beat the Dolphins, and they are more likely than ever to win the turnover margin.

WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta)
WHEN: 4: 25 p.m. ET | FOX
SPREAD: Saints -4.5 | O/U: 40

Taysom Hill is playing a bit better each week. This Saints defense is probably the best since Sean Payton’s era. It has been able to withstand a variety of offenses. The Falcons qualify, especially if Kyle Pitts is out. New Orleans’ pass rush is a lot more fearsome than it was in the first meeting between these teams back in Week 9.

WHERE: Highmark Stadium (Orchard Park, N.Y.)
WHEN: 4: 25 p.m. ET | CBS
SPREAD: Jets +16 | O/U: 41

I’m foolish enough to believe the Jets have found something in their running game over the last month and that it matches up well with the Bills. I’m also foolish enough to believe Zach Wilson‘s growing confidence and improved play mean something, even in a tough matchup. Even if Robert Saleh’s team falls short, New York could be able to make Buffalo sweat it out for the AFC East title.

WHERE: Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas)
WHEN: 8: 20 p.m. ET | NBC
SPREAD: Chargers -3 | O/U: 49.5

Well of course the Chargers are favored by three in this game because that’s unquestionably the exact right line. This is a win-win situation, an opportunity to see two stars-crossed division rivals in a playoff game that’s one week early. The Bolts are my pick because they have the better overall team and the better quarterback. However, that seems a bit too logical. Derek Carr and this Raiders squad have spun fourth-quarter magic lately, and the Chargers’ improved O-line is hurt at the wrong time, so I don’t feel confident about anything here except that it should be a lot of fun.

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