NFL Week 18 tips and picks: Playoff permutations, clinching scenarios and predictions

Week 18 of the NFL regular season is upon us so join Planet Sport as we dissect the action, explain who needs what and, hopefully, pick some winners.

The final weekend of the NFL season is littered with booby traps that we want to avoid as bettors, so we’ll focus on motivation and clinching scenarios.

Suggested bets

Green Bay Packers -1.5

Seattle Seahawks -1.5

Minnesota Vikings +4.5


Nothing to see here

Let’s start by highlighting the games that have no playoff implications.

Jets @ Patriots

Buccaneers @ Panthers

Browns @ Bengals

Broncos @ Raiders

Rams @ 49ers

Chiefs @ Chargers

It’s probably best to avoid betting on these games because what’s the motivation? Momentum is key, but the focus is on being healthy for the playoffs.


NFL Week 18 playoff scenarios

There are 10 games involving playoff scenarios. Here are some of the key ones to look out for.

  • - Buffalo Bills clinch AFC East with a win
  • - Jacksonville Jaguars clinch AFC South with a win
  • - Dallas Cowboys clinch NFC East with a win
  • - Philadelphia Eagles win NFC East with a win and Cowboys loss
  • - Atlanta Falcons clinch NFC South with a win and a Buccaneers loss
  • - New Orleans Saints would clinch NFC South with a win and a Buccaneers loss
  • - Green Bay Packers make the playoffs win a win
  • - Seattle Seahawks clinch playoffs with a win and a Packers loss
  • - Winner of the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts makes the playoffs
  • - Minnesota Vikings must win to stand a chance of a wildcard
  • - Pittsburgh Steelers must win to stand a chance of a wildcard

And that’s the short version. Still with us? There are various other permutations involving a host of teams losing, but let’s not complicate things too much.


Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers (21:25 GMT, Sun)

A reminder that the Packers must win to make the playoffs and to avoid relying on a bunch of other teams dropping the ball.

They’ve got a nice opponent as they welcome the Chicago Bears (7-9) to Lambeau Field. The Bears have nothing left to play for other than pride, and perhaps their jobs.

The jury is still out on Justin Fields, Jordan Love had a good outing when the teams last met and the Packers crowd will be loud, so everything should fall into place.

The Chicago defence is no joke and this should be a game of tight margins but when it comes down to who you trust to execute when it matters, it’s currently Love.




Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals (21:25 GMT, Sun)

The Seattle Seahawks clinch a playoff spot if they win and a Packers loss. There’s also another scenario, but it all starts with the Seahawks winning.

We trust them to do their bit on the road against the Arizona Cardinals (4-12) who have nothing to play for and have had a torrid season.

The Cards beating the Philadelphia Eagles 35-31 last week was a seismic shock but having won four games all season, can they back that up or will they let themselves down?

The Seahawks won 20-10 when the teams met earlier in the season and with the spread set at just a field goal, we’ll happily back them to win again.




Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions (18:00 GMT, Sun)

The Lions are likely to field a strong team despite not needing to win, while the visiting Vikings have to win to stand a chance.

That looks like a tall order on paper but the Lions' defence is far from great and motivation might be worth a few extra points, so we’ll back them to keep it within a field goal.

Minnesota are essentially playing playoff football a week early and their defence stands a pretty good chance of keeping Detroit quiet for extended periods, which helps.

Nick Mullens will start for the Vikings so it’s worth noting he’s already thrown for 411 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions this season.




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