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NFL Week 18 afternoon game picks, open thread

Bills Mafia will be tuned in to see who wins Jaguars vs. Titans

Tennessee Titans v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

It’s the final week of the 2023 NFL regular season and everything’s on the line! The Buffalo Bills can make the playoffs with a win or a loss, but also be out of the playoffs completely with a loss. So there are several games that will be on the radar of Bills Mafia, but none more important than the Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans.

Some teams will clinch divisions, while others will be eliminated. But all in all, Week 18 sets out to be one of the most exciting and entertaining weekends of the year. Here’s how I see everything shaking out today.

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints , 1 p.m. EST (CBS)

The NFC South is up for grabs and the Saints should be the team to take advantage of their weak division. They have the best quarterback and the best defense in the division. The Falcons have figured out how to stay in the race with the Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they’ve been consistently bad at making good decisions on game days.

The Saints will roll and hope Baker and the Bucs lose.

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m. EST (CBS)

The Bengals have been impressive with quarterback Jake Browning taking over for Joe Burrow, but they’ve cooled off and faced reality over the last couple of games amid a two-game losing streak. The Browns are probably better with quarterback Joe Flacco than they are with Deshaun Watson, and wide receiver Amari Cooper’s stats can prove it.

I’m riding with the former Super Bowl MVP here. Flacco will lift the Browns to the win, and will look forward to trying to ruin someone’s playoff run.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m. EST (CBS)

I don’t believe in either of these teams, and that makes picking the game difficult. I like what the Titans have been able to do offensively, showing flashes with quarterback Will Levis — but he’s still raw and it shows. The Jaguars were supposed to run away with the division but injuries and a couple of bad games have placed them in the thick of the teams fighting to get in.

The Jaguars don’t help the Bills and win this one on the road.

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. EST (FOX)

DETROIT, WHAT?! (for the Eminem fans) I don’t have much confidence at this point of the season for anything the Vikings are doing. The Lions have the division wrapped up and really don’t have anything to prove, so they shouldn’t have their starters out there too long. But I still think overall that Detroit has the better roster in this matchup and those fans will have the stadium rocking.

Lions close out their best season in a decade with a win.

New York Jets at New England Patriots, 1 p.m. EST (FOX)

Both of these teams should want to lose this game for draft position purposes. But, these guys are professionals and are putting their resumes out there for their next opportunity. With that being the case, I just don’t see much of anything to be hopeful about with the Patriots until they really move on from Belichick.

The Jets end this season on a high note for their coach and look to the future with Rodgers at the helm.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. EST (FOX)

The Panthers didn’t give me much of anything this season. But that’s okay — they gave their rookie quarterback meaningful reps that will matter when he has better talent around him. That’s not today and Baker Mayfield has revitalized his career such that the Buccaneers are interested in a long-term deal for the former first-overall pick.

Baker rallies the troops, pushing the Buccaneers to the postseason.

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers, 4:25 p.m. EST (CBS)

I want to root for the Bears just as I have all season. Those who know me know I love Tremaine Edmunds. But the Bears have a lot to do before their team can be really competitive. Luckily for them they have two to- ten first rounders in this draft thanks to the Panthers. However, that discussion isn’t still for a couple of months. Right now, the Packers are looking to make the playoffs and they will do just that. Quarterback Jordan Love has already locked in an additional $1.5 million based on his play this season, and a win Sunday against the Bears would lock in an additional $1.5 million. He potentially could add as much as an additional $1.5 million above that based on his final statistics, then could add more based on the team’s playoff performance.

Cheeseheads rejoice, you’re back in the postseason.

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Commanders, 4:25 p.m. EST (FOX)

The Cowboys have run into a bit of a snag after losing two straight to AFC East opponents. They were barely able to squeak out a win against the Lions last week with a 20-19 win. Dallas will need a “get right” game headed into the playoffs and this is the perfect opportunity for just that. The Commanders being a division rival makes this that much sweeter for the Cowboys to dominate and get on track headed into the playoffs.

Dak sits the second half in a huge win for Dallas.

Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders, 4:25 p.m. EST (FOX)

There’s way too much smoke coming out of Denver for there not to be fire. All the drama with the front office, coaching staff and quarterback Russell Wilson has been nothing but a major distraction to a team that just fell short of making an amazing run to the postseason. I think the drama is too much for a Week 18 team with a backup quarterback to overcome.

Antonio Pierce is going to win this last game and make it hard for the Raiders to hire that coach from Michigan over him.

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m. EST (CBS)

The Chiefs are 3-3 over their last six games. They just don’t look like the team that everyone should fear going into the playoffs. But the Chargers don’t really scare anyone with their offense right now, and the Chiefs’ defense is their strength. This game won’t be a fun one to watch.

The Chiefs will make light work of their division rival and get ready for the playoffs.

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m. EST (FOX)

The 49ers were handed their worst loss of the season two weeks ago and have been angry about it ever since. I would still pledge my vote for running back Christian McCaffrey to win MVP if I had a vote, but here we are. The Rams are good. Really good, and could really be a problem for teams in the playoffs if they were to win this game and end up as the six seed. If the Rams fall to 9-8 by losing this game, they can retain the six seed in the NFC as long as the Packers lose or tie the Bears. The Rams win tiebreakers with the Seattle Seahawks and Saints, thanks to winning in head-to-head competition. But the Rams lost in Week 9 to the Packers.

So there’s a lot at stake, but I have the Packers winning this one in a close game.

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, 4:25 p.m. EST (CBS)

Welp, Brian Daboll certainly won’t win Coach of the Year two seasons in a row after the season the Giants had. Now they can figure out how to get out of Daniel Jones’ contract and move forward to actually allow Daboll’s strength (offensive mind) to be displayed on a consistent basis. The Eagles are the superior team. They’ve slid recently and will need to regain their composure before the tournament starts. This is the last chance for them to do that.

Eagles by a touchdown at least.

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m. EST (FOX)

As much as I would have liked for the Cardinals to put together a great season, as a season ticket holder I’m now more interested in hoping they’re in position to draft wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. They need a WR1 since letting DHop walk and if they won this game it would hurt their chances to do so. I don’t think they’ll try to lose this game, but realistically, I don’t see two big wins in a row for the Birds.

The Seahawks go into the playoffs with a dub.

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