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Week 18 NFL picks: Bills or Dolphins in de facto AFC East title game? Will Packers punch playoff ticket? editors Ali Bhanpuri, Tom Blair, Brooke Cersosimo, Gennaro Filice and Dan Parr will predict every game of the 2023 NFL season, using the unbeatable combo of football analysis and excessive punctuation. Check out their Week 18 picks below.

Table inside Article
Analyst Record (straight) Record (ATS)
Ali 158-98 123-121-11
Brooke 163-89 128-117-11
Dan 166-90 139-106-11
Gennaro 160-96 145-100-11
Tom 161-95 118-127-11
Consensus Picks 106-42 32-19-1


  1. The lines provided by Caesars Sportsbook are current as of noon ET on Thursday, Jan. 4, unless otherwise noted below.
  2. * -- Pick flipped after publishing.
  3. ** -- Final score prediction changed after publishing.


  • WHERE: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Buccaneers -235 | Panthers +192
  • SPREAD: Buccaneers -4.5 | O/U: 37.0
Table inside Article
Ali Brooke Dan Gennaro Tom
Buccaneers 22-16
Buccaneers 26-13
Buccaneers 21-15
Buccaneers 20-13
Buccaneers 23-14

Why Ali is taking the Buccaneers: Tampa's four-game win streak came to a crashing halt last weekend, and any margin for error for Todd Bowles' team was erased. Facing an all-or-nothing scenario on Sunday, the reigning division champs need a bounce back in the worst way. Fortunately, they couldn't ask for a more favorable opponent than the 2-14 Panthers, who produced just 124 total yards and zero points against a C.J. Beathard-led Jaguars team in Week 17. Assuming Baker Mayfield (or Kyle Trask) and Co. don't cough up the ball four times like they did against the Saints, the unit should eventually break through Carolina's stout defense. When that happens, which Carolina offense are we more likely to see: the one from last week's dud or the version that notched 30 on the Packers in Week 16? Considering that 30-burger was the first game since Week 6 in which the Panthers scored more than even 20 points, my guess is the former.

EDITOR'S UPDATE: On Friday, Bucs coach Todd Bowles said Baker Mayfield (ribs) will start Sunday's game.

  • WHERE: Paycor Stadium (Cincinnati)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Browns +250 | Bengals -320
  • SPREAD: Bengals -7.0 | O/U: 37.5
Table inside Article
Ali Brooke Dan Gennaro Tom
Bengals 23-17
Bengals 23-18
Bengals 23-14
Bengals 26-14
Bengals 24-14

Why Tom is taking the Bengals: I wouldn't put it past Jeff Driskel to become the latest backup QB -- starting in place of Joe Flacco, among the Browns to be resting ahead of the playoffs -- to have inexplicable success for Cleveland. But I'll roll with a Bengals squad that has been reasonably productive behind Jake Browning at QB, especially at home. In his three starts in Cincinnati, Browning has a 2-1 record, 71.8 percent completion rate, 5:3 TD-to-INT ratio and 103.8 passer rating. Especially if Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins play, that should be enough against an opponent already eyeing the postseason.

  • WHERE: Ford Field (Detroit)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Vikings +162 | Lions -195
  • SPREAD: Lions -3.5 | O/U: 45.5
Table inside Article
Ali Brooke Dan Gennaro Tom
Lions 27-20
Lions 26-23
Lions 26-20
Lions 28-21
Lions 25-20

Why Gennaro is taking the Lions: Week 18 is largely driven by motivation -- or a lack thereof. Technically, both of these teams will take the field at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday with something to play for, but the Vikings need a lot of help, facing the longest odds to make the playoffs of any team still alive. The Lions have an outside chance to vault into the No. 2 seed, but they'll most likely stay put at No. 3. Regardless, Detroit's still fuming over this past Saturday night's controversial finish in Dallas, with head coach Dan Campbell fueled by “controlled fury,” saying the starters will play in the regular-season finale at Ford Field. Just how long Campbell rolls with the 1s is anyone's guess, but I'm confident this Motor City madman will get the most out of everyone wearing Honolulu blue, players and fans alike.

  • WHERE: Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Jets +105 | Patriots -125
  • SPREAD: Patriots -1.5 | O/U: 30.5
Table inside Article
Ali Brooke Dan Gennaro Tom
Patriots 16-13
Patriots 20-16
Patriots 16-13
Jets 14-13
Patriots 17-14

Why Brooke is taking the Patriots: Pride is on the line. Bill Belichick is one loss away from tying for the most regular-season defeats by a head coach in NFL history. While the Jets desperately want to end a 15-game losing streak to their division rival. This is a battle of top-six total defenses and bottom-five total offenses, so expect special teams to have an impact. The Jets may have bigger names (Breece Hall, Garrett Wilson, Sauce Gardner), but it's the at-home Patriots who eke out this season finale.

  • WHERE: Caesars Superdome (New Orleans)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Falcons +143 | Saints -170
  • SPREAD: Saints -3.0 | O/U: 42.0
Table inside Article
Ali Brooke Dan Gennaro Tom
Saints 22-18
Saints 27-23
Saints 23-18
Saints 22-16
Saints 24-20

Why Brooke is taking the Saints: Derek Carr has elevated his play in the last month to help the Saints win three of their last four games. He could be without Alvin Kamara, but his budding rapport with Juwan Johnson -- paired with the playmaking ability of Chris Olave and Taysom Hill -- bodes well for New Orleans in this high-stakes matchup which will take place in a rockin' Superdome. The Saints' defense must find ways to slow Atlanta's dynamic backfield and keep Taylor Heinicke (or Desmond Ridder if the vet isn't healthy) uncomfortable in the pocket. This comes down to QB play, and New Orleans has the big advantage right now.

  • WHERE: Nissan Stadium (Nashville, Tenn.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Jaguars -235 | Titans +192
  • SPREAD: Jaguars -5.5 | O/U: 40.0
Table inside Article
Ali Brooke Dan Gennaro Tom
Jaguars 24-20
Jaguars 23-21
Jaguars 24-17
Titans 21-18
Jaguars 24-17

Why Tom is taking the Jaguars: The Titans have been generally frisky even in losses, with seven of their defeats coming by eight points or fewer. But while Ryan Tannehill (if he starts for the injured Will Levis) and Derrick Henry would surely love to get one more W in Tennessee, their offseason begins Sunday afternoon no matter what happens. I'm banking on Trevor Lawrence (who was back at practice on Wednesday), Travis Etienne and Doug Pederson doing what they need to do to keep playing into January.

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Titans coach Mike Vrabel announced on Friday that Ryan Tannehill will indeed start Sunday's season finale.

  • WHERE: State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Seahawks -145 | Cardinals +122
  • SPREAD: Seahawks -3.0 | O/U: 47.5
Table inside Article
Ali Brooke Dan Gennaro Tom
Seahawks 23-21
Seahawks 26-21
Seahawks 25-21
Cardinals 30-24
Cardinals 26-20

Why Gennaro is taking the Cardinals: This could be the worst defense of Pete Carroll's 14-year tenure in Seattle, and it starts with the Seahawks' inability to stop the run. After his team allowed 202 more ground yards in last Sunday's home loss to the Steelers, Carroll wasn't exactly thrilled about the effort in a Tuesday appearance on Seattle Sports radio: "We didn't tackle as well (as we needed to), we didn't pursue properly on some stuff and so we got exposed on the edge, and it just looked crappy." Indeed it did. And now the 'Hawks visit the Cardinals, who have eclipsed 220 yards rushing in two of the last three weeks, with James Conner running like a man possessed and Kyler Murray always a threat to hurt you with his legs. Feels like the kind of formula to give Seattle its second losing record in the past three seasons.

  • WHERE: Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wis.)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Bears +135 | Packers -160
  • SPREAD: Packers -3.0 | O/U: 44.0
Table inside Article
Ali Brooke Dan Gennaro Tom
Bears 24-20
Packers 24-20
Packers 22-21
Bears 31-20
Packers 27-21

Why Ali is taking the Bears: Matt Eberflus can downplay the significance of Sunday's showdown with the Packers all he wants, but this game has franchise-altering implications -- for both squads. Think I'm being hyperbolic? Just look at the NFC North-winning Lions, who found themselves in a similar situation at the end of last season. Their victory at Lambeau Field in Week 18 -- the Lions' fifth win over their final six games and first at Green Bay since 2018 -- eliminated the Packers from playoff contention and propelled Detroit to a historic 2023 campaign. Fast-forward 12 months. The Bears enter Sunday's contest having won four of their previous five games, seeking their first victory at Lambeau since 2015, with an opportunity to end the Packers' season. By beating Green Bay, the Bears would earn their third straight W within the division (after starting 0-9 under Eberflus) and further validate the growing optimism that their current head coach and quarterback are the right individuals to lead the franchise going forward. A win for the Packers would bring its own level of validation, of course, with a postseason berth proving the front office was right about Jordan Love and the vision for the organization's future. A loss by either team -- particularly an ugly one -- could potentially have the opposite effect. This game feels like a true toss-up, with both quarterbacks playing with a ton of confidence and both defenses coming off of dominant performances. But much like I believed in Week 1, I think the Bears' secondary -- with the benefit of a vastly improved pass rush -- makes the difference this weekend. Second time's the charm?

  • WHERE: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Chiefs +158 | Chargers -190
  • SPREAD: Chargers -3.5 | O/U: 35.0
Table inside Article
Ali Brooke Dan Gennaro Tom
Chiefs 20-18
Chiefs 20-19
Chargers 17-16
Chargers 22-17
Chargers 20-17

Why Gennaro is taking the Chargers: With Kansas City locked into the No. 3 seed, Andy Reid opened up his Wednesday press conference by confirming what everyone expected for this regular-season finale: The Chiefs will indeed rest starters. Funny -- the Chargers have been resting starters for weeks, just not by choice. Another snake-bitten season for the Bolts has seen injuries befall franchise cornerstones Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Joey Bosa. Consequently, backups like QB Easton Stick have gotten used to this whole starting thing. So, while Kansas City is incorporating a slew of lineup changes this week, it's basically business as usual for Los Angeles. In his third game since taking the reins after Brandon Staley's firing, Giff Smith logs his first win.

  • WHERE: Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Broncos +135 | Raiders -160
  • SPREAD: Raiders -2.5 | O/U: 38.0
Table inside Article
Ali Brooke Dan Gennaro Tom
Raiders 20-17
Raiders 23-17
Raiders 20-17
Broncos 19-16
Raiders 22-18

Why Tom is taking the Raiders: When it comes to picking teams with nothing left to play for on the final day of the regular season, vibes are king. And does anything scream "vibes to believe in" louder than an interim coach who has gotten his group to play hard and is surely looking to put an exclamation point on his case for being given the full-time job? Sean Payton's next most important task is figuring out what to do with the Broncos in March and April. Antonio Pierce, meanwhile, should have Las Vegas plenty fired up at home.

  • WHERE: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Eagles -240 | Giants +196
  • SPREAD: Eagles -5.0 | O/U: 42.0
Table inside Article
Ali Brooke Dan Gennaro Tom
Eagles 24-18
Eagles 26-20
Eagles 26-20
Eagles 21-20
Eagles 23-17

Why Ali is taking the Eagles: The cracks were apparent even during the Eagles' 10-1 start. But when the 49ers blew down the doors of the Linc in Week 13, those vulnerabilities looked to be significant enough to prevent Philly from another Super Bowl run. The Eagles have gone just 1-3 since then, losing their hold on the NFC East and the conference's No. 2 seed along the way. The good news: They appear to have reached rock bottom after last Sunday's shocking collapse vs. the Cardinals. The better news: Their lone victory since the start of December came against their Week 18 opponent. In fact, Nick Sirianni's club has beaten the G-Men five straight times. While the Eagles aren't going to solve a season's worth of problems over a single Sunday, they lean on star wideout A.J. Brown to help stave off a feisty Giants team, leaving New Jersey with a much-needed win and a bit of momentum heading into the playoffs.

  • WHERE: Levi's Stadium (Santa Clara, Calif.)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Rams +170 | 49ers -205
  • SPREAD: 49ers -4.0 | O/U: 41.0
Table inside Article
Ali Brooke Dan Gennaro Tom
49ers 22-17
49ers 26-20
49ers 24-18
49ers 24-15
49ers 20-14

Why Brooke is taking the 49ers: The Rams are one of the hottest teams league-wide since RB Kyren Williams' return in Week 12, averaging 31.3 points and 426.7 total yards per game in this span, so I want to believe they will give the top-seeded 49ers a run for their money. BUT, Carson Wentz is getting the start in order to rest Matthew Stafford for the playoffs. Could this be a Wentz-Sam Darnold backup battle for the ages? Um, sure? Kyle Shanahan said his starters -- except Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey (calf) -- will play significant time, leading me to take the Niners here.

  • WHERE: FedExField (Landover, Md.)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Cowboys -800 | Commanders +550
  • SPREAD: Cowboys -13.0 | O/U: 46.0
Table inside Article
Ali Brooke Dan Gennaro Tom
Cowboys 30-16
Cowboys 29-18
Cowboys 31-16
Cowboys 40-17
Cowboys 30-14

Why Ali is taking the Cowboys: Dallas entered the final weekend of 2023 seemingly destined for the NFC's fifth seed and a road playoff game. Combine a controversial ending with a massive upset, and within 48 hours, the Cowboys found themselves ringing in the new year atop the NFC East and in control of the conference's No. 2 slot. (2024 is NOT messing around!) I don't see Dallas wasting its generous gift by losing to a Washington squad currently on a seven-game skid -- especially not when a win guarantees that the Cowboys open the playoffs at AT&T Stadium, where they're 8-0 this season. As much as the Commanders might want to play spoiler, and avenge the Thanksgiving Day thrashing they were handed by Dak & Co., their new year begins just as their 2023 ended -- with a double-digit loss at home.

  • WHERE: Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
  • WHEN: 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC, Universo, NFL+
  • MONEYLINE: Bills -165 | Dolphins +140
  • SPREAD: Bills -3.0 | O/U: 49.5
Table inside Article
Ali Brooke Dan Gennaro Tom
Bills 26-22
Dolphins 28-24
Bills 28-23
Bills 28-23
Bills 27-25

Why Gennaro is taking the Bills: Every NFL campaign is a war of attrition. And as we head into the 272nd and final game of the 2023 regular season -- a de facto AFC East title bout -- one team is losing the battle. While Buffalo encountered a vicious injury bug in October -- losing critical pieces on all three levels of the defense -- the Bills weathered the storm and now seem like they've come out on the other side. Yeah, star QB Josh Allen's a little banged up, but by and large, this feels like the healthiest Buffalo has been since September. The same cannot be said about Miami. The team's two star edge rushers -- Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips -- are on injured reserve. The offensive line has been a MASH unit all season. And Wednesday's injury report was a depressingly star-studded list. Long story short, the Dolphins are limping into the playoffs, while the Bills are surging down the stretch with a four-game win streak in tow.


  • WHERE: M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore)
  • WHEN: 4:30 p.m. ET | ESPN, ABC, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes
  • MONEYLINE: Steelers -195 | Ravens +162
  • SPREAD: Steelers -4.0 | O/U: 35.5
Table inside Article
Ali Brooke Dan Gennaro Tom
Steelers 21-16
Ravens 22-20
Steelers 20-14
Steelers 23-17
Steelers 22-17

Why Tom is taking the Steelers: Lamar Jackson will be smartly stowed in bubble wrap for this one. The Steelers, meanwhile, have plenty on the line to motivate them: chiefly, a chance to end their weird season by making the playoffs behind a third consecutive Mason Rudolph win. Pittsburgh ultimately will need some help on Sunday in order to punch a postseason ticket, but first things first Saturday night. This could be the Ravens' third consecutive January home loss to the Steelers without Jackson on the field, but it would be under much happier conditions than the last two.

  • WHERE: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)
  • WHEN: 8:15 p.m. ET | ESPN, ABC, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes
  • MONEYLINE: Texans -130 | Colts +110
  • SPREAD: Texans -1.0 | O/U: 47.5
Table inside Article
Ali Brooke Dan Gennaro Tom
Texans 27-24
Texans 24-22
Texans 25-22
Texans 31-25
Texans 27-24

Why Brooke is taking the Texans: The last time these teams clashed was all the way back in Week 2, when the Colts prevailed 31-20. The Week 18 versions of these clubs are completely different, as Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans stated earlier this week. C.J. Stroud has proven to be one of the more consistent quarterbacks this season with a 21:5 TD-to-INT ratio, which leads all qualified QBs, per NFL Research. That consistency could be in jeopardy against a Colts D that pressured Stroud a season-high 25 times in their last outing. Not to mention, Stroud is 2-4 with just four pass TDs in road games. In my eyes, though, the Texans are the better team right now with a top-five run defense that should keep the Jonathan Taylor-led Colts' rushing attack at bay and an opportunistic pass defense -- albeit, a banged-up one -- that could make Gardner Minshew pay if he's not careful. Texans win. They’re in!

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