Week 18 of the 2023 NFL season gets underway today with pair of NFL games featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Baltimore Ravens, followed by the Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts. With playoffs on the line, both matchups should have postseason vibes, and perhaps play into the league’s annual award races. Let’s take a closer look at each game and what to expect.
Starting with the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7) at the Baltimore Ravens (13-3), there are some interesting dynamics at play, namely the Steelers being favored with a -3 spread at DraftKings Sportsbook. The over/under is set at 34.5, which is the total points expected to be scored by both teams in the game. The Moneyline is -162 for Pittsburgh and +136 for Baltimore, which shows the potential payout for betting on either team to win outright.
Additionally, it’s important to note that home teams typically receive a -3 point spread for home-field advantage. This means that when oddsmakers set the point spread for a game, they generally start with a three-point advantage for the home team before factoring in other variables.
In terms of the actual game, the Ravens are sitting comfortably with the number-one seed for the conference and have decided to rest some of their key players, including star quarterback Lamar Jackson. On the other hand, the Steelers have a slim chance of making the playoffs with a win and some help from the Buffalo Bills or Jacksonville Jaguars and will be looking to take advantage of the opportunity, especially with the recent success and two-game win streak after a great decision by head coach Mike Tomlin to switch to their backup quarterback Mason Rudolph.
However, the Ravens still have a strong defense and backup quarterback Tyler Huntley, which makes them a tough opponent even with key players inactive. In the end...
I have the Ravens coming out on top with a 27-17 win.
The Bills will be one step closer to clinching a playoff berth before they even take the field Sunday night.
Moving on to the Houston Texans (9-7) at Indianapolis Colts (9-7), this matchup will determine the winner of the AFC South and has implications for the NFL Coach of the Year race. The Texans are favored with a -1.5 spread at DraftKings Sportsbook and have rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud leading the charge.
Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans enters this game with the second-highest odds to win NFL Coach of the Year at +700, followed by his opponent today, Colts head coach Shane Steichen at +950.
Indianapolis, on the other hand, has been resilient with backup quarterback Gardner Minshew III and a strong running back tandem in Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss. A win for the Colts would secure their spot in the playoffs and deny their division rival from doing the same.
Ultimately, this game is expected to be a close one, and when that’s the case I tend to lean on the team with the better quarterback. The Texans most certainly have the better quarterback in Stroud.
With an eye on the division title and looking to make a statement heading into the playoffs, I’m taking the Texans over the Colts, 31-20.
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