Week 18 NFL Picks: Sides & Totals

Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins looks to pass against the New York Giants during the third quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on December 05, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Image Credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Each week, BetPrep NFL Sharp “Tommy The Hitman” discusses every game through the eyes of a professional sports bettor with host and 30-year sports talk radio vet Jody McDonald of CBS Sports Radio.

Here are some recent highlights from the latest episode of Hot Read Hits, the official NFL podcast of BetPrep:

The final regular-season week is always complicated by the lack of equally and well-motivated participants. But there is actually value in the “nothing to play for” team. Teams that are “playing for nothing” in the final two weeks of the season against teams in a “must-win spot” are 94-56-4 ATS since 1990. The reason for this is the bookmakers tend to place a premium on the point spread on these teams.

Bucs -4.5 FIRST HALF vs. Carolina, Sunday, 4:25 ET

The Buccaneers are the No. 3 seed but can climb to the No. 2 spot if they win and the Rams lose. Bruce Arians has already stated that the Bucs will not rest anyone on Sunday, although it could happen in-game.

The look ahead line on this game was Tampa minus-15, which assumed Tampa would play their starters for the entire game. The line has crashed to minus-8 because of some uncertainty that they play the whole game, but this shouldn’t affect the first half where Tampa has their starters in. Under normal circumstances Tampa would be laying minus-7 for this first half, and the situation is giving us big time value on Tampa

Tampa could be looking to get chemistry with their new wideouts and Tampa jumped on Carolina early just two weeks ago, winning the first half 19-6 and ultimately winning the game 32-6. Carolina wants to be a run-heavy team but Tampa is the league’s best run defense making it a good matchup for the Tampa defense.

Dolphins +6 at New England, Sunday, 4:25 ET

New England is inflated because of the “must win” mantra, but they are paying a point spread tax due to the fact that they need the game to stay in the running to win the AFC East and Miami is eliminated.

Look ahead was Dolphins +2.5 and the fact that Miami has been eliminated isn’t worth this many points

The Dolphins are 5-2 SU against New England the last 7 times they played in Miami. Despite Miami having some bad teams during those seasons, it always plays New England tough there.

Mac Jones has struggled against good pass rushes this year and Miami is second in the NFL in pressure rate.

Vikings minus-5.5 vs Chicago, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Minnesota closed minus-7 just a few weeks ago in Chicago. Now they are laying 1.5 points less at home despite not much having changed. The Vikings won that game easily.

Chicago just two weeks ago was getting 7 points in Seattle. That was a game they won but it was fortunate as they lost yard per play 6.2 to 4.6. Minnesota power rating-wise is a superior team to Seattle.

Minnesota has come out saying they are playing every starter and giving an all in effort in what could be the last game for the team for Kirk Cousins and coach Mike Zimmer.