Things are beginning to finalize as the NFL approaches its first-ever Week 18 in league history. Eleven of the sixteen playoff spots have been confirmed with plenty still at stake during this final week.
Seedings, division crowns, and home-field advantage are still up for grabs, which could be the difference in hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February. Several teams are able to use this final game as a mini-bye to rest starters in order to get healthy, while others are forced to reshuffle due to injury.
This season, like so many others, will come down to talent, but also who is healthiest and able to withstand the NFL’s best offenses and defenses week in and week out.
Having a licensed physical therapist interpret the NFL Week 18 injury reports provides you with the information you won’t find anywhere else. It also helps you make clear-cut decisions on tight lines and take advantage of injury mismatches before the odds change.
Below are the top NFL Week 18 injuries to consider when placing your Week 18 NFL betting picks.
Please note that all NFL Week 18 odds and lines are current as of 10:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, January 6.
NFL Week 18 Injuries & Betting Tips
Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys (Left ACL tear)
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Gallup suffered a left ACL tear while catching a 21-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter in the loss to the Arizona Cardinals. He has since been placed on injured reserve and will have surgery within the month.
Even if Gallup wanted to play, he would be unable to effectively perform, as the ACL prevents anterior translation of the tibia during pivoting and cutting — vital motions required to play in the slot.
- Read our full Week 18 Cowboys vs Eagles betting picks & tips
Despite the loss of Gallup, the Cowboys have performed well in his absence this season, going 6-1. In his place, Dallas will have to rely on Cedrick Wilson to step up for the playoffs.
The team will use the Week 18 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles as a tuneup, but with both teams having already clinched playoff berths, this game may be conservative to protect everyone’s health. This makes my betting pick 1 unit on the Under 43 (-110) at Caesars.
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Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (Right Knee Injury)
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
Joe Burrow had Bengals fans clutching their pearls as he limped off the field following a fourth-down incompletion that eventually set up the game-winning field goal. Burrow downplayed the injury following the game, stating the knee was “good enough."
Looking at the tape, there isn’t much to go off of. There is slight twisting through the knee when his foot is stepped on, but there doesn’t appear to be anything that should linger.
- Read our full Week 18 Bengals vs Browns betting picks & tips
To be cautious, Burrow will sit out this week to rest up for the playoffs. Additionally, RB Joe Mixon tested positive for COVID, leaving his status in doubt Sunday. The absence of both significantly lessens their chances at higher seeding.
Despite the Week 18 absence of starting QB Baker Mayfield due to a labrum repair on his left shoulder, the Browns still want to make a statement to end the season by securing a win over a division rival.
The NFL gameday odds shifted sharply with the new updates, which makes my betting pick 1 unit on the Bengals to cover the spread at +6 (-110) at Caesars.
Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Ankle Injury)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Carolina Panthers
Ronald Jones suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter of Sunday’s win over the New York Jets and was unable to return for the remainder of the game. The specifics of the injury are unknown, and Jones was scheduled to undergo an MRI Monday.
On Wednesday, Jones was observed in a walking boot but hasn’t been ruled out for Sunday quite yet.
Backup Ke’Shawn Vaughn is dealing with bruised ribs of his own, which may put veteran Le’Veon Bell in the starting lineup for the first time since late 2020 when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs.
- Read our full Week 18 Buccaneers vs Panthers betting picks & tips
To recap, Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette are on injured reserve, Mike Evans is working through a hamstring strain, and Antonio Brown is no longer with the team. The Buccaneers simply need to win and get some help for the No. 2 seed, but I don’t believe it will be pretty.
This makes my betting pick 1 unit on the Under 41.5 (-110) at Caesars.
Orlando Brown, LT, Kansas City Chiefs (Calf Strain)
Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos
Orlando Brown suffered a calf strain in pregame warmups, leaving the Chiefs shorthanded on the offensive line in the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.
Brown was able to practice in a limited role Wednesday and has been diagnosed with a minor calf strain. As a left tackle, having an injured calf may lead to Brown being a step slower in blocking the defensive end and having difficulty generating power to open up lanes for the running game.
- Read our full Week 18 Chiefs vs Broncos betting pick & tips
In addition to the uncertainty surrounding Brown’s status, the backup left tackle, Lucas Niang, suffered a right patellar tendon tear, ending his season. This could force the offensive line to shuffle, much like it did in last year’s playoffs.
The Chiefs have to win this game to maintain a shot at securing the No. 1 seed, giving them a bye and an extra week to recalibrate the offensive line.
In addition, the Denver Broncos may be without QB Drew Lock as he deals with an AC joint sprain to his throwing shoulder. This makes my NFL pick of the day 1 unit on the Over 44.5 (-110) at Caesars.
Other Week 18 Notable Injuries
- Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry was had his practice window open for injured reserve Wednesday, making a return to play in the playoffs a real possibility.
- Las Vegas Raiders Darren Waller returned to practice Wednesday after missing the past 5 games with back and IT band issues with a chance to help the Raiders clinch the playoffs.
- Atlanta Falcons TE Kyle Pitts suffered a right hamstring strain in the loss to the Buffalo Bills. This could threaten his availability to secure the rookie record for receiving yards for a tight end, currently held by Hall of Fame TE Mike Ditka.
- New York Jets RB Michael Carter is currently working through concussion protocol following a hit in the first half. His status is in question as they are set to play the Buffalo Bills in Week 18.
- Detroit Lions QB Jared Goff missed last week with a left MCL sprain and is not expected to play in the season finale against the Green Bay Packers.
- Seattle Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner suffered a sprained MCL and PCL early in the win over the Detroit Lions and is not expected to play in the season finale.
Kyle’s Injury Report Betting Record: 54-37, +6.54 Units