Week 18 Throwing Darts: Does Kyle Shanahan have Sean McVay's number?

·2 min read

We offer five NFL picks every week with throwing darts, and I’m pleased to report we’ve had a winning record in 10 of 12 seasons. Here’s the final order for the 2021 season.

Niners +4.5 at Rams

Kyle Shanahan has gotten the better of Sean McVay in this series, and Matthew Stafford’s uneven play of late is a problem for the Rams. The Niners also have their own quarterback situation to muddle through, but if the game situation allows, we’ll see plenty of running from San Francisco, looking for a short game. I’ll be stunned if either team wins by more than one score; in that case, starting with 4.5 is appetizing.

Jets +16.5 versus Bills

Week 18 brings us plenty of games with win-thirsty contenders against long-eliminated losing teams. With that in mind, the odds are commonly jacked sky high (often an overcorrection), since one team needs the game and one team does not. The Jets have shown glimpses of competence in recent weeks, and this is a huge number. Being an underdog-driven handicapper means being willing to dance with some of the league’s worst teams.

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Jaguars +15.5 versus Colts

Basically the same frame as the Bills and Jets — the Colts need the game and so the spread is in a wild area (had this game been at Indianapolis, the Colts would be spotting 20-plus). Shocking as it is, the Colts haven’t won in Jacksonville since 2014. I certainly don’t trust Carson Wentz for three-hour blocks of time. Another hold-your-nose selection, take advantage of Week 18 life.

Browns -6 versus Bengals

Kicking myself for not taking Cleveland early in the week, before Cincinnati unveiled a resting plan that was entirely predictable. A healthy Case Keenum is probably an upgrade over an injured Baker Mayfield, and scores of key Bengals will be using Week 18 as a bye before the playoffs.

Dolphins +7 versus Patriots

We locked in this pick early in the week, expecting that the line would probably drop (and it has). Dolphins have won five of the last eight in the series — team-versus-team history matters somewhat to me when it’s divisional foes — and Brian Flores is one Bill Belichick disciple who isn’t intimidated by the mentor.

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