NFL Week 18 predictions: How to play the Colts, Bucs & Dolphins

NFL Week 18 sees 10 teams vying for the last five playoff positions

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betzone

2 months ago

The final week of the NFL regular season is here and there are five playoff spots still up for grabs with the Jaguars, Bills, Colts, Texans and Steelers still dreaming in the AFC and the Bucs, Packers, Seahawks, Saints, Vikings and Falcons all entertaining hopes in the NFC.

Harnessing those franchises’ heightened levels of drive and motivation is what our NFL Week 18 Predictions are all about – Indianapolis, Tampa Bay and the Miami Dolphins are on the hit list.

NFL Week 18 predictions

Colts to beat Texans moneyline @ 1/1

Buccaneers (-6.5) to cover vs Panthers @ 21/20

Dolphins (+2.5) to cover vs Bills @ 21/20

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In-form Indy can deliver the double over wildcard rivals

The Colts host the Texans in a winner takes all showdown at the Lucas Oil Stadium. The victor gets the last AFC wildcard slot at worst and at best wins the AFC South in the event the Jaguars lose.

Indianapolis look like value 1/1 moneyline underdogs on home turf having beaten Houston 30-21 in Texas back in week two and they come into this do-or-die decider in the better form.

Chris Ballard’s outfit have won six of their last eight matches and boast the fifth highest scoring home offence in the NFL (221 points), with an average of 24.56 points per home game this term.

Pick: Colts to beat Texans moneyline @ 1/1

Tampa will take no chances with Panthers to top NFC South

The 8-8 Bucs go into the week 18 knowing they must win to book their playoff place with easily the worst division winner’s record in the NFC. To do so they must at least match the result of their NFC South bedfellows New Orleans who they’re ahead of by virtue of the better common record.

Fortunately for the Floridians they visit the team destined to finish the campaign with the worst regular season record in the NFL, the 2-14 Carolina Panthers.

The Bucs beat the Panthers 21-18 at Raymond James Stadium in week 13, but there’s plenty to suggest things won’t be so close this time around. Not least the 26-0 defeat the Panthers slumped to against Jacksonville in week 17 – a strong sign of a team that can’t wait for the season to end.

With post-season qualification on the line, Tampa head coach Jason Licht won’t want the Panthers anywhere near being within one TD of victory come the later stages of this one.

That should see the Bucs come out all guns blazing against hosts that average just 5.8 first-half points at home this season.

Pick: Buccaneers (-6.5) to cover vs Panthers @ 21/20

Miami motivation appears underestimated against Buffalo

Monday Night Football serves up a humdinger for the final regular season round with the Miami Dolphins playing the Buffalo Bills in an AFC East divisional decider.

The Bills travel to Florida as -2.5-point favourites knowing that a win will send them through #2 in the AFC, while a loss could see them end up #6, #7, or even fail to make the playoffs altogether.

However, while the Dolphins are guaranteed a playoff berth, their incentive for winning this match up cannot be underestimated. Topping the AFC East guarantees them at least one home match in the post-season. Finishing #6 means an unappetising road trip to Kansas City in the first round.

Beaten 48-20 in Buffalo in week four, they’re a far better side at the Hard Rock Stadium, where their only loss this season was a 27-28 reverse to the Tennessee Titans. Here they can be backed with a 2.5-point head start at odds north of evens.

Pick: Dolphins (+2.5) to cover vs Bills @ 21/20