NFL Picks Week 18: With Eyes Toward The Future

After seventeen weeks, the 2022 NFL Regular Season comes to a close, and the New Orleans Saints have unfortunately missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season. They enter this final week with a second matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Both teams had a chance to make this game a matchup for the NFC South title, but both teams blew double-digit leads to Tom Brady and Tampa down the stretch, allowing Brady to win the South once again.

Now the Saints and Panthers play each other for pride and bragging rights. With their eyes toward the future, the Saints look to pick up one last win this season before a crucially important offseason begins. Now let’s take a look at the Saints’ regular season finale as well as all of the pivotal matchups in the final week of the 2022 NFL Season!

Last week I went 8-7

I told you so: Packers over Vikings!

What do I know: Eagles over Saints?!

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WEEK 18

Saturday, January 7th – Saturday NFL Special – Game 1

Chiefs(13-3) at Raiders(6-10)

Playoff Scenario: A Kansas City win, coupled with a Buffalo loss, clinches the top-seed in the AFC and a first-round bye.

Patrick Mahomes will do what he does best, take advantage of the Las Vegas defense early and often. Kansas City wins 40-17.

Pick: Chiefs

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Saturday, January 7th – Saturday NFL Special – Game 2

Titans(7-9) at Jaguars(8-8) – AFC South Championship Game

Playoff Scenario: Winner clinches the AFC South title and an automatic playoff spot.

The atmosphere in Jacksonville will be absolutely electric, an electricity not seen there in half a decade. Doug Pederson and Trevor Lawrence will put the dagger in the free-falling Titans with a brilliant offensive performance in this de facto playoff game. Jacksonville wins 28-14.

Pick: Jaguars

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Sunday, January 8th – Early Games

Panthers(6-10) at Saints(7-9)

The Saints defense has been dialed in in recent weeks, and they will be the unit that once again leads this Saints team to victory. Andy Dalton and the offense will do just enough to secure victory for the Saints, thanks to clutch performances from the receiving corps. With this win, the Saints will end the 2022 season on a surprising four-game winning streak, a fantastic way to go into the offseason. Saints win 20-14.

Pick: Saints

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Buccaneers(8-8) at Falcons(6-10)

Tampa has no reason to play their starters in this meaningless game, but Todd Bowles will start them anyway in this warm-up for their home Wild Card game. The Bucs will certainly warm up against the horrid Atlanta defense, allowing Tom Brady to be as ready as possible for his upcoming playoff game. Tampa Bay wins 35-22.

Pick: Buccaneers

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Vikings(12-4) at Bears(3-13)

The Minnesota passing attack will have their way against a bad team in Chicago. Minnesota wins 26-16.

Pick: Vikings

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Texans(2-13-1) at Colts (4-11-1)

The Bryce Young/CJ Stroud Bowl will be just as awful as everyone expects. Indy’s defense will be the difference in this one. Indianapolis wins 16-14.

Pick: Colts

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Jets(7-9) at Dolphins(8-8)

Playoff Scenario: A Miami win coupled with a New England loss clinches a playoff spot.

Only Tennessee and Indy have been free-falling faster in the AFC than these two disappointing teams. Both the Jets and Fins have squandered sure-fire playoff berths over the last five weeks, and only Miami still has faint hope, but that hope too will be crushed by their offensive ineptitude against the Jets defense in this one. New York wins 20-14.

Pick: Jets

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Browns(7-9) at Steelers(8-8)

Playoff Scenario: A Pittsburgh win coupled with a Miami loss and a New England loss clinches a playoff spot.

Kenny Pickett will again put his team on his back, as his late-season growth continues with a huge win at home that keeps their playoff hopes alive. Pittsburgh wins 28-16.

Pick: Steelers

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Patriots(8-8) at Bills(12-3)

Playoff Scenario: A Buffalo win, coupled with losses by Cincinnati and Kansas City, clinches the top-seed in the AFC and a first-round bye. A New England win, OR losses by Miami, Pittsburgh, and Tennessee, clinches a playoff spot.

New England’s defense has kept them in the playoff race all season, but that comes to an end in Buffalo in this one. Buffalo wins 36-14.

Pick: Bills

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Ravens(10-6) at Bengals(11-4)

Playoff Scenario: A Cincinnati win clinches the AFC North title. A Cincinnati win coupled with losses by Kansas City and Buffalo, clinches the top-seed in the AFC and a first-round bye.

Without Lamar Jackson, who will be resting until the playoffs, Baltimore lacks the firepower to keep up with Cincy, as Joe Burrow has a big game against the Baltimore defense. Cincinnati wins 34-20.

Pick: Bengals

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Sunday, January 8th – Late Games

Giants(9-6-1) at Eagles(13-3)

Playoff Scenario: A Philadelphia win or a Dallas loss clinches the NFC East title and the NFC’s top seed and a first-round bye. Also, a San Francisco loss clinches the NFC’s top seed and a first-round bye for Philly.

With Jalen Hurts on the field, and the NFC’s #1 seed on the line, Philly will overwhelm the Giants defense in this game which is far less important to the G-Men. Philadelphia wins 35-26.

Pick: Eagles

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Cowboys(12-4) at Commanders(7-8-1)

Playoff Scenario: A Dallas win coupled with a Philadelphia loss clinches the NFC East title. A Dallas win coupled with Philadelphia and San Francisco losses clinches the NFC’s top seed and a first-round bye.

Dallas’ rushing attack will humble the Washington defense in this huge game for the Cowboys. Dallas wins 35-14.

Pick: Cowboys

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Chargers(10-6) at Broncos(4-12)

Justin Herbert against the Denver defense will be the key to this game, which will be closer than most expected. A late field goal wins the game for the playoff-bound Bolts. With the win, Los Angeles avoids the AFC’s “big three” in the Wild Card and will instead face the AFC South Champion. Los Angeles wins 22-19.

Pick: Chargers

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Rams(5-11) at Seahawks(8-8)

Playoff Scenario: A Seattle win coupled with a Green Bay loss clinches a playoff spot.

Seattle’s suspect defense will make this game closer than it needs to be, but Geno Smith will make the plays necessary for Seattle to keep their playoff hopes alive for a few more hours. Seattle wins 24-21.

Pick: Seahawks

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Cardinals(4-12) at 49ers(12-4)

Playoff Scenario: A San Francisco win coupled with a Philadelphia loss clinches the NFC’s top seed and a first-round bye.

Brock Purdy will be given every opportunity to be as prepared as possible for San Francisco’s upcoming playoff run, and the rookie will rise to the occasion with a dominant performance against the mediocre Cards. The Niners’ dominant defense will get back on track in this one as well. San Francisco wins 38-12.

Pick: 49ers

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Sunday Night Football Finale

Lions(8-8) at Packers(8-8) – Game of the Week

Playoff Scenario: A Detroit win coupled with a Seattle loss clinches a playoff spot. A Green Bay win clinches a playoff spot. The loser of this game is eliminated from playoff contention.

Really, Detroit has been better than Green Bay this season, and now, in this one game, they have the chance to prove it. In fact, the Lions are 2-0 in their past two meetings against the Pack, but both of those wins took place in Detroit. Aaron Rodgers, when healthy and playing the entire game, almost never loses to the Lions at Lambeau, only losing once at home to the Lions in his entire career. Not a great omen for the Lions.

Detroit’s offense has something special going on this season, and they have what it takes to hang with just about any team, but their problem is on defense, which is atrocious. When Detroit needs them the most, in the very end, their last-ranked defense will let them down. Aaron Rodgers will do what he does at Lambeau, he will make the play to win the game. Green Bay 26-24.

Pick: Packers

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There you have it, the final week of the 2022 NFL regular season. Here’s to the Saints beating the Panthers, to end the season on a high note. Leave us your picks, comments, and insight below!

You can check out the lines for all of this week’s games courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.

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