There are four more weeks of games left in the 2018 regular season in the National Football League, but just one team has clinched a playoff spot (the Rams). So there is a lot of jockeying left to do in the league’s standings, not least in the maneuvering for wild card and division title spots in the postseason. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of betting predictions that you can expect and incorporate into your NFL betting between now and Week 17.
NFL Betting Predictions for the Last Weeks of the 2018 Regular Season
Week 14 NFL Power Rankings:
— NFL (@NFL) December 4, 2018
The Saints will keep scoring in bunches
The Dallas Cowboys did hold to New Orleans to 10 points last Thursday. However, New Orleans still averages almost 35 points per game — and they score on 58.1 percent of their drives this year, even after that setback in Dallas, which would be the best rate by any team since the league added two more games to the regular-season schedule 40 years ago. What did Dallas do well? Get a pass rush up the middle and then use their linebacker pursuit to cover the backs and tight ends — and to pursue the running game. New Orleans will make adjustments and get back to scoring against Tampa Bay and the rest of their opponents.
Kansas City will lose two of their last four games
The Chiefs host the Ravens and the Chargers before heading to Seattle in week 16. They finish at home against the Raiders. If I had to pick which two games they will lose, I would go with the Chargers and the Seahawks, because the Chiefs have basically given up on defense, as they showed in their 54-51 loss at the Rams — but more significantly last week, as they let the hapless Oakland Raiders pile up 33 points on them. Eventually, you run into teams that figure out your scheme, and the Chargers and Seahawks both have the pass rush to force Mahomes into bad choices. Those choices will end up costing the Chiefs home field should they hit New England in the AFC Championship — and costing the Chiefs a Super Bowl bid.
The Chargers will win the AFC West
Los Angeles is just one game behind Kansas City, sitting at 9-3 after starting 1-2. The Chargers have 83 “explosive” plays (rushing plays of 15+ yards or passing plays of 20+ yards), just three behind the Chiefs. It is this big gainers that get the Chargers into scoring position, which is one reason why they rank sixth in scoring despite the fact that their third-down conversion rate is so spotty. The Chargers will take advantage of that 2-2 finish by the Chiefs to move past them in the division standings.
Lamar Jackson will lead the Ravens to the playoffs
He won’t have to deliver in a ton of run-and-gun situations to do so, either. Baltimore is built on their stalwart defense. No team permits fewer yards than the 281.7 they give up each week, and no team gives up fewer points per game (17.8). If those numbers can hold (or even slide a little bit), the Ravens will get to the playoffs and could pull off a surprise in the wild card round. If the Steelers keep slipping, the Ravens could end up hosting a first-round game and moving to the divisional round. Jackson has a cannon of an arm and can fire accurately down the field, and his feet give the Ravens’ offense a dimension that Joe Flacco didn’t provide.
Minnesota will sneak in as a wild card in the NFC
Why? Their defense is the best in the league at third-down defense, as opponents convert on under 30 percent of their conversions. So even when the Vikings’ offense goes through its coughs and fits, the defense does a solid job of getting the other team’s offense off the field — although that didn’t work late against the Patriots, as New England simply wore out the Vikings’ defense and got two late touchdowns. For the rest of the regular season, though, Minnesota should win enough to take one of the wild cards.