The last week of the NFL season is unique as approximately half of the league knows it will be suiting up for the final time this season. Determining how individual teams react can be difficult to handicap, as some will pack it in while others will be motivated to end the season on a high note.
There is one thing that you can count on: We are going to see some big favorites. Favorites and underdogs have gone back and forth for the last 17 weeks, with dogs holding a slight 128-126-2 lead. Backing heavy favorites is typically viewed in betting circles as square, but if there is ever a time to target them, it's at the end of the season. Double-digit favorites are 7-2-1 over the past two weeks, and the Week 18 board gives us four options to consider. Let's break down each from a betting perspective and see if we can end our regular season on a high note.
Kansas City (-10) at Denver
The Chiefs have won 12 straight against the Broncos and should be highly motivated with the No.1 seed in the AFC in play. Denver enters the game with Drew Lock nursing a shoulder injury and a lame-duck coach in Vic Fangio. The Broncos will need to score often to keep pace with a Chiefs offense that has averaged over 37 points the last four weeks. I'm betting on a KC blowout. The Chiefs' defense held Denver to nine points in their first meeting and has a first-round bye as motivation to keep its foot on the gas in this one.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-16.5)
Here is a fun fact: The Bills lead the NFL with an 11.1 average margin of victory while the Jets' -11.1 is ranked 31st. If there is any team built to cover as heavy favorites, it's Josh Allen's high-flying offense. The Bills are 5-1-1 ATS as favorites of 9 points or more and demolished this same Jets team 45-17 in Week 10. Lay the big number as Buffalo needs to win to ensure a home playoff game.
Indianapolis Colts (-15.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Strange things happen when the Colts travel to face their divisional foes. Indy has lost six straight in Jacksonville and scraped by the Jags 23-17 in their only meeting this season. However, plenty has changed for both teams since. The Jags are relying on an interim coach who is most likely going to be with a different organization next year. The Colts let a golden opportunity to capture a top seed slip away after losing to Las Vegas. I can easily see them taking out their frustrations on the undisputed worst team in football.
The Colts averaged 30 points per game in the second half of the season while the Jaguars managed only 11. That's a 19-point differential. The Colts are 3-1 ATS as double-digit favorites with the Jags being the only opponent to keep it close. I am banking lightning doesn't strike twice in the same season. The Colts should secure their playoff status in convincing fashion.
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (+10.5)
No team in the NFL has overcome more adversity than the Tennessee Titans. With a first-round bye and home-field advantage on the line, I am positive Mike Vrabel gets the job done. That doesn't mean they cover the number against a pesky Houston Texans team. Houston already handed the Titans a 22-13 loss this season and showed San Francisco on Sunday that it isn't going to just pack it in. The Texans' four covers as double-digit underdogs are tied for most of any NFL team this season while the Titans are a mediocre 4-4 in the favorite role. Houston's defense has surprisingly improved versus the run, and I don't think it's out of the question they can keep this one close.
Stats provided by team rankings.com, Ben Baldwin (based off 10/90 WP).