The NFL heads into Week 18, the final week of the 2022 regular season with much uncertainty after Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest during Monday night’s game in Cincinnati. The game will not resume this week, and it is unclear what the plan for the schedule is moving forward as everyone hopes for the best news on Hamlin.
The Bills and Bengals remain two of the very best teams in the league as we approach the postseason. The Philadelphia Eagles have been in control of the NFC’s top seed since the beginning of the season, but a two-game losing streak without Jalen Hurts has opened the door for the Dallas Cowboys in our power rankings at OddsTrader.
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1. San Francisco 49ers (12-4 SU, 10-6 ATS)
- At home vs. Cardinals
- Betting Edge: +4
Few could have imagined the 49ers would have their toughest game in months against Jarrett Stidham and the Raiders. Stidham was making the first start of his career and found more success than expected against the top-ranked defense.
But in the end, the 49ers still won in overtime, and we got to see how Brock Purdy would react when trailing by double digits, having to come back from a pick, having to throw for more than 240 yards to win a game, and coming back in the fourth quarter.
Of course, the 2022 Raiders are an all-time great team at blowing the lead, but it was still good practice for Purdy instead of another wire-to-wire win where the 49ers just dominated. Now the 49ers can just beat Arizona at home and hope for a high seed so they can do the most damage in the playoffs.
2. Buffalo Bills (12-3 SU, 7-7-1 ATS)
- At home vs. Patriots
- Betting Edge: +3.5
The Bills are in the hearts and minds of every football fan this week as they hope for good news with Damar Hamlin after he collapsed on the field Monday night. This team has had a special season, and they have been the favorites for the Super Bowl since the preseason.
We are in a holding pattern to see what comes next for the Bills, if they will play the Patriots on Sunday, and if or when the game against the Bengals will continue. But we can only hope everything works out and this team can continue on with their pursuit of a championship.
3. Dallas Cowboys (12-4 SU, 10-6 ATS)
- On the road at Commanders
- Betting Edge: +2.5
Just think how dangerous the Cowboys can be if they stop turning the ball over so much. They have a 2021 Chiefs vibe when it comes to that, often tipping passes that should be caught for interceptions by the opponent. Fortunately, the defense has 16 takeaways since Week 13, so that has helped Dallas continue to win.
For all the picks, Dak Prescott has led the Cowboys to at least 24 points in every game since his Week 7 return. Dallas has scored at least 27 points in each of the last nine games, tied for the seventh-longest streak in NFL history.
The Cowboys should win in Washington to get to 13-4, but we’ll see if the Eagles lose to the Giants. If both outcomes happen, the Cowboys could be the winners of the NFC East, which has not looked likely for months now.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (13-3 SU, 5-10-1 ATS)
- On the road at Raiders
- Betting Edge: -3.5
The only team with a worse spread record than the Chiefs is Tampa Bay (4-11-1), but the Chiefs keep finding ways to win. The Broncos pushed them for the second time this season, but once again the defense stepped up for the Chiefs to get a fourth-down sack of Russell Wilson in a 27-24 win.
Patrick Mahomes is almost certainly going to win the MVP as he leads the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns for the No. 1 scoring offense of a team likely to finish 14-3 and have a shot at the No. 1 seed. But after the way the Raiders stepped up against the 49ers last week, it likely won’t be easy this Saturday.
For that matter, the Chiefs needed a 17-point comeback at home against the Raiders earlier this season. But they won that game by a single point too after Travis Kelce scored four touchdowns. Kelce has not caught a touchdown from Mahomes in five straight games, tying the longest drought of their career. Look for them to get back on track in Vegas and put a bow on a fine regular season.
5. Philadelphia Eagles (13-3 SU, 8-8 ATS)
- At home vs. Giants
- Betting Edge: -5
The Eagles have suddenly lost two games in a row to make this end of the season very interesting. Gardner Minshew was not the problem in Dallas in Week 16, but he certainly was not consistent in the latest loss to the Saints. His pick-six in the fourth quarter was a dagger in the 20-10 loss.
Minshew also was stopped at midfield on the Eagles’ famous quarterback push sneak that has been almost unstoppable this season with Jalen Hurts. The Eagles are hoping to have Hurts back this weekend for a final home game with the Giants, who should probably rest players as they are locked into the No. 6 seed in the playoffs.
But that would be the shocker of the year if the Eagles, with Hurts back, lost at home to the Giants’ backups with the No. 1 seed on the line. Extremely unlikely, but we are witnessing a season full of the improbable.
It’s A Long Way to the Top
6. Cincinnati Bengals (11-4 SU, 12-3 ATS)
- At home vs. Ravens
- Betting Edge: 0
With the Ravens losing to Pittsburgh, the Bengals still look to be in great position to win the AFC North regardless of what the league ultimately decides to do with the Buffalo game.
The Bengals could always lock it up with a win over the Ravens, who still may not have Lamar Jackson with his knee injury. The Baltimore offense has not surpassed 17 points in the five games since that injury. Tyler Huntley is just not built to get into a shootout without Joe Burrow and the Bengals.
Of course, the Bengals are still in a very emotional state as they wait to hear the news on Damar Hamlin. But the team handled the moment well on Monday night, and head coach Zac Taylor has been given plenty of deserved credit for making sure the game wouldn’t continue.
For a team that overcame adversity to reach the Super Bowl last year, you can count on the Bengals to be ready for whatever is going to come their way the rest of the season.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8 SU, 8-8 ATS)
- At home vs. Titans
- Betting Edge: +5.5
Is it 1996 again? The Jaguars are making a heck of a comeback from a 2-6 start in Doug Pederson’s first year as head coach. They just have to beat the Titans at home with a third-string quarterback to win the AFC South and host another playoff game the following week.
Jacksonville ended the nine-game losing streak to the Texans in dominant fashion with a 31-3 win. The running game and defense were great, so Trevor Lawrence did not have to do much on an injured toe.
The Titans are a team that knows how to fight, but the injuries may be just too much to overcome this year. We’ll see how the Jaguars respond in the biggest game for their franchise since the 2017 AFC Championship Game.
8. Green Bay Packers (8-8 SU, 8-8 ATS)
- At home vs. Lions
- Betting Edge: -0.5
Adding the Packers to the top 10 recently does not look so crazy now, does it? Once left for dead at 4-8, this team has a win-and-they’re-in home game with the Lions on Sunday night. It won’t be easy, but not many expected the Packers to beat the Dolphins on Christmas before they pulled that one out.
The Packers just blasted the 12-win Vikings by 24 points, and now they get a Detroit team that is not quite the same outside of the dome. But Rodgers is going to have to avoid all the interceptions he threw in the 15-9 loss in Detroit earlier this season.
But you just know the NFL cannot resist putting Rodgers in prime time with a playoff scenario like this in his favor at Lambeau Field. But if the Packers can keep getting turnovers and good special teams plays, then he should be back in the playoffs after this challenging season.
9. New Orleans Saints (7-9 SU, 7-9 ATS)
- At home vs. Panthers
- Betting Edge: +3.5
The Saints ultimately lost the NFC South to Tampa Bay thanks to that brutal blown lead in Week 13. But the Saints have not lost since that game, and they can close things out at 8-9 with a home win against the Panthers.
These Saints are agents of chaos. They can make life difficult on a contender and then lose to a terrible team the following week. You just never know anymore, which is the difference from the Sean Payton and Drew Brees era that was so consistent.
But that was a great win for the Saints in Philadelphia, and Marshon Lattimore made his absence felt by returning to make that huge pick-six to put the game away in the fourth.
But even if the Saints win this final game against Carolina, they will regret blowing it so badly in so many ways in Tampa Bay in Week 13.
10. Detroit Lions (8-8 SU, 11-5 ATS)
- On the road at Packers
- Betting Edge: +0.5
If the Lions miss the playoffs, they’d be the most dangerous team left out of the tournament. That offense can score at an elite level with Jared Goff having a far better season than anyone expected.
But sadly, the Lions do not control their own fate. If the Seahawks beat the Rams on Sunday, then the Lions are already eliminated even before the Green Bay game starts at night. All the Lions can do at that point is deny Green Bay entry, which we know will motivate head coach Dan Campbell plenty enough to put on a show.
But the Lions are not nearly as lethal on offense outside the dome this year. They only scored 15 points in the first game with Green Bay, won thanks to some incredibly unlikely interceptions by Aaron Rodgers in the red zone. Look for the Lions to fight hard to end this season, but chances are the season ends in Green Bay for them.