The Dog House: Three best NFL underdogs for Week 18 - Take the points with the Steelers
Well, the final week of the NFL regular season has arrived. Week 18 is here, and we have a pair of games on Saturday followed by 14 more on Sunday’s slate. All in all, there are plenty of intriguing storylines to follow for this weekend’s action. That being said, it is now time to take a trip back to The Dog House.
Here, I will highlight my 3 favorite underdogs for the week. Before we dive in, don’t forget to check out our picks on the side and total for every single NFL game. You can also follow Pickswise and myself on Twitter for plenty of betting content.
Philadelphia Eagles +7 over Dallas Cowboys (-110)
Both the Cowboys and Eagles have already confirmed their spots in the playoffs, so it is worth keeping an eye out to see if either team will be resting players. That being said, right now there is good value on the Eagles to cover the spread. Philly has won its last 4 games and is looking to continue that run against a Dallas team that is coming off a disappointing 25-22 loss to Arizona at home.
The Eagles put an emphasis on running the ball. They are averaging 5 yards per carry on the ground and have the most rushing touchdowns in the NFL with 24. That will no doubt worry the Cowboys, as Dallas has allowed the 7th-most yards per carry this season and has given up the 2nd-most rushes of 20+ yards. Given the talent of Boston Scott and dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts, head coach Nick Sirianni is expected to keep the ball on the ground, especially given how hot Dallas has been against the pass.
The Dallas offense looked to be heating up after the 56-14 demolition of Washington a couple of weeks back, but last week’s loss to Arizona highlighted that there is still work to do. The Cowboys managed just 45 total rushing yards in that game and are unlikely to have much more success against an Eagles defense that ranks 3rd-best in the league in yards per carry allowed. Star cornerback Darius Slay should be able to give Dak Prescott some headaches in the passing game as well. There is solid value on the Eagles in this matchup as home underdogs.
*Update: The line has since moved to Eagles +5.5, which I still think is a valuable play*
Be sure to check out our full game preview for Dallas Cowboys vs Philadelphia Eagles
Pittsburgh Steelers +5.5 over Baltimore Ravens (-110)
Close games have become the norm in this AFC North rivalry. In the last 10 meetings between the Steelers and Ravens, 7 have been decided by one score, and 6 have been decided by less than 5 points. As such, it’s tough to lay 5.5 points in either direction. Even more so, laying this many points with the Ravens is not particularly appealing. After starting the season with a 5-1 record, Baltimore is just 3-7 since. They enter this one on a 5-game losing streak. The fact that Lamar Jackson (questionable due to an ankle issue) did not practice on Wednesday makes them even less appealing. The Ravens have also struggled to cover as favorites, going 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games in such scenarios.
On the other side, the Steelers are a solid 7-4-1 since beginning the season 1-3. Their current stretch includes a 20-19 victory over Baltimore in Week 13. It isn’t always pretty, but the Steelers have what it takes to keep this one close. Pittsburgh is 6-2 against the spread in its last 8 against the AFC. It should also be noted that the road team is 7-3 ATS in the last 10 head-to-head matchups and the underdog is 21-7-3 ATS in the last 31. Taking the points with Pittsburgh is the play.
Be sure to check out our full game preview for Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens
Jacksonville Jaguars +15.5 over Indianapolis Colts (-110)
If the Colts win this game against the lowly Jaguars, they are in the playoffs. They are far and away the more talented team, and they should be able to find the win column. However, here is a stat that may surprise you: The Colts are a measly 1-11-1 ATS in their last 13 matchups against the Jaguars. In addition, Indianapolis is 0-6 ATS in their last 6 matchups against Jacksonville at TIAA Bank Field. The Jags won just a single game last season, and you guessed it, it was against the Colts.
Jacksonville also pulled off one of the craziest upsets this season in Week 9, taking down Buffalo despite being 14.5-point underdogs. A week after that win, the Jags held their own against the Colts on the road, losing 23-17 but covering the 10.5-point spread. For whatever reason, things have not been easy for the Colts against the Jags.
In addition, just because a team must win a game to make the playoffs does not necessarily mean they will cover. Since 1990, teams that are out of playoff contention are 94-56-4 (63 percent) ATS in weeks 16-17 (17/18 this year) against teams that must win to keep their playoff hopes alive. All the pressure is on the Colts in this one. They dropped a very winnable game last week at home against the Raiders as 9-point favorites, and Jacksonville is a place where they have not been comfortable in recent years. The Jags have nothing to lose, and they will be looking to end their dreadful season on a somewhat high note.
Be sure to check out our full game preview for Indianapolis Colts vs Jacksonville Jaguars
Pickswise is the home of free NFL picks and NFL Odds. Check out the latest prop bets and parlays as well as expert underdog predictions and computer picks.