Week 18 of the NFL season is upon us. Now that the final week is here, teams across the league are scrambling for wins to either improve playoff seeding, avoid elimination, or just end the season with a grain of pride.
With an excellent sample size of games to judge teams on, team-adjusted stats like DVOA have a ton of value. We also have to be aware of how injuries have affected teams to this point.
As always, context is key.
With that in mind, let’s dive into some NFL Week 18 upset predictions and best bets
Please note that all NFL gameday odds and lines are current as of 8:00 p.m. ET on Friday, January 7.
San Francisco 49ers vs Los Angeles Rams Upset Pick
Kyle Shanahan owns Sean McVay (5-0 since 2019). While that alone is not a good enough reason to prefer the 49ers side, they are pretty healthy despite Jimmy Garoppolo‘s thumb injury.
According to recent reports, Garoppolo is throwing in practice and looking solid, which should indicate that he is going to play despite Trey Lance starting this past week and performing fairly well.
It is possible that the 49ers mix the two QBs in different parts of the field to really throw their division rival off given the limited tape available on Lance.
- Read our full 49ers vs Rams Best Bets and Predictions.
The health of LT Trent Williams (elbow) was in question, but since this is a must-win game to enter the playoffs, we could see him push to play. Luckily, the 49ers are returning several starters on defense from injuries/COVID including CB Emmanuel Moseley, CB Ambry Thomas, and likely one of LB Dre Greenlaw or LB Azeez Al-Shaair.
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The Rams are the better team in basically every facet except their rushing attack, but they are vulnerable to the 49ers’ style of attacking on offense. With YAC monsters in Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle, the Rams struggle since they are very weak in the middle of the field.
Matthew Stafford has struggled fairly notably over the past month or so and was quite poor in the last matchup with just 243 yards on 41 attempts, a touchdown, and two interceptions. He should be better but will need a great game to hope for a victory.
Upset Prediction: 49ers 27, Rams 24
49ers vs Rams Upset Best Bets
Upset Bet: 49ers Moneyline (+180) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
San Francisco last faced the Rams in Week 10 at home and won by an astounding 21 points. While this game should be much closer than that blowout since Los Angeles has built some continuity, San Francisco is also working with a better-integrated Aiyuk.
All things considered, these teams are not too much different than the last time they met, and unfortunately, LA does not have much of a home-field advantage.
Upset Pick: Over 44.5 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 2 Units
Both of these teams are healthy on offense and clicking to varying degrees. The 49ers dropped 31 points in the last matchup while holding LA to just 10, but that won’t repeat this weekend.
The Rams are no longer as discombobulated as they were that week with the loss of Robert Woods still fresh and their running game led by Darrell Henderson. Expect points in this one.
New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins Upset Pick
For some reason, the Patriots struggle when they fly down to Miami. Whether it be due to the nightlife or divisional matchup, it is almost a yearly occurrence.
In all but two years since 2013, the Dolphins have beaten the Patriots at home. Miami even won the first of their two matchups this year, yet they are 6.5-point underdogs this week.
These teams are evenly-matched to a degree while coming off of polar opposite Week 17s. New England molly-whopped the Jaguars by 40 points, while the Dolphins were served their own 31-point beating by Tennessee.
- Read our full Dolphins vs Patriots Best Bets and Predictions.
Miami’s Week 1 win did come in Mac Jones‘ first NFL start, but as we saw in December, he is performing at a worse level than the first three months. Each team has a healthy offense and is top-10 in defensive DVOA with New England second and Miami 10th.
Miami has added a new ripple with RB Duke Johnson Jr. performing as the best rusher they’ve had all season. This did not help last week, but the rain was possibly the issue for Tua Tagovailoa as multiple fumbles occurred on just four sacks.
The Dolphins’ OL is a disaster that New England will do their best to take advantage of and very well could, but Tagovailoa has mitigated it, for the most part, all season.
Upset Prediction: Dolphins 21, Patriots 17
Patriots vs Dolphins Upset Picks
Upset Pick: Dolphins Moneyline (+230) at Caesars
Wager: 2 Units
It seems insane for any team to beat the Patriots twice in a season, yet here we are. Miami takes a season sweep in a bounce-back game at home which could be a make-or-break for Tagovailoa, making this my NFL bet of the day.
Upset Pick: Under 40 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
Two good defenses that deserve their share of respect face off, while neither team plays fast at all. Even when the Patriots trail, they are just 20th in the NFL in pace.
New England has no true deep threat and will be forced to grind out plays on offense. Miami has the explosive side with guys like Jaylen Waddle, Mike Gesicki, and DeVante Parker but they will be held in check thanks to the Patriots’ better defense.