NFL Week 18 Key Numbers: Bills Move To -3 At Dolphins
NFL Week 18 odds include a massive selection of 10 games near the key number of -3. Included among those is the battle for the AFC East, where some might be surprised to learn the market has bet the Buffalo Bills to the point of laying the key number. Here, we’ll primarily focus on games hovering at or near these NFL key numbers with brief discussions of why or if they might move.
When betting on football, bettors must always keep in mind key numbers. NFL key betting numbers are precisely what they sound like. They are numbers in the spread that often hold the key to winning and losing. They frequently determine wins and losses in spread betting because they represent the most common margins of victory.
Football fans should naturally be aware that three and seven dominate (secondary key numbers include six, four, and 10). Things have changed a bit in recent years thanks to the longer extra point. But, historically, around 24% of games end with margins of three or seven.
NFL Key Numbers Near 3 For Week 18 Spreads
Steelers At Ravens
This game opened with Steelers odds as road favorites around -4, but early action has come in on the Ravens. Now, Ravens backers may be in danger of losing the key number if further money keeps that trend going.
Bettors must grapple with an interesting conundrum in this game. Technically, it’s better for the Ravens if they lose this, as it boosts the odds of the Steelers making the playoffs rather than the Bills, which helps Baltimore’s cause. On the other hand, a Ravens squad full of backups quarterbacked by Tyler Huntley figures to be quite competitive against the Steelers. Remember, Huntley nearly won a playoff game in Cincinnati last year.
Overall, the market seems to be leaning into that angle when backing Ravens odds.
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Vikings At Lions
This is an interesting line move already. Generally, the betting market seems to buy into the motivational angles in Week 18, preferring to back teams with a strong reason to perform. Now, the Vikings certainly have that as they need a win and a lot of help to make the playoffs. However, the Lions also still have an outside chance at the No. 2 seed. Therefore, they’re incentivized to show up and perform (the NFL scheduled their game before that of Dallas to ensure this).
Yet, the market has come in strongly on Vikings odds, perhaps banking on a team playing for its season against a team playing for a small chance at a one-step bump in seeding. The initial markets had Lions odds around -5.5.
It seems unrealistic for the Lions to dip below the key number unless the team reveals something about its plans in Week 18.
Falcons At Saints
The Saints reopened laying the key number here, and initial action came in on New Orleans. Bettors could find some +3.5s on Falcons odds. Sharps apparently snapped those up as the market appears to have resettled with Saints odds right on the key number, albeit with additional juice.
Given that lean, it may behoove Falcons backers to wait and see if 3.5s appear on the board.
Jets At Patriots
Two dead teams meet in this one, and it’s the Patriots who have been on the better trajectory of late. Thus, it wasn’t much of a surprise to see Patriots odds bet out to -2.5. However, money has since come in on the Jets. Therefore, this doesn’t seem likely to hit the key number since resistance occurred notably below that.
Rams At 49ers
The 49ers have nothing to play for, having locked in the No. 1 seed in the NFC. However, the Rams do need to win in order to avoid the No. 7 seed and a certain date in San Francisco in a potential second-round game. That figures to be motivation enough to play the starters, so it’s a bit surprising that 49ers odds sit above the key number.
Given the market’s zest for betting motivational angles, expect any movement to come in on Rams odds, so bettors may want to lock in the key number if that’s a side they like.
Seahawks At Cardinals
If recent comments from Cardinals brass are any indication, they have no desire to tank, and they plan to bring Kyler Murray back as the starting QB. They’ve certainly played that way so far, and the market appears to be buying that this is a competitive team with a drive to win games.
Given the dip below the key number, though, now looks like the time to buy a cheap Seahawks number.
Bears At Packers
Last year, the Packers played a similar game to this one, hosting a dead Lions team playing only as a spoiler. A similar initial market on Packers odds got bet out as high as -6 as the market bought into the motivational angle.
Of course, the Lions won outright, 20-16.
Could bettors see similar steam this time around? It appears the market has corrected a bit and is giving Bears odds at least some due respect. Chicago has outplayed market expectations six games in a row, so it’s definitely past time for an adjustment. Don’t expect to see the Packers laying above the key number, especially given sharp interest in Chicago seemingly every week.
Broncos At Raiders
Dead teams and backup QBs go to war here. Despite the Raiders’ recent defensive success, there doesn’t appear enough difference in these teams for the market to support Raiders odds, laying the key number at -3.
The market expressed skepticism of Jarrett Stidham immediately upon the announcement he was starting, moving the number multiple points last week. That proved potentially unfounded, although there was a lot to parse with the Broncos also missing top WR Courtland Sutton.
Broncos odds could still tick up to +3, although would figure to be the ceiling.
Chiefs At Chargers
Wednesday morning and afternoon steam has Chargers odds surging up to and through the key number and now laying -3.5. Apparently, sharps have more confidence in the wreckage of the Chargers than the Chiefs backups led by Blaine Gabbert.
Nobody is going to be excited to bet on this Chiefs bunch, so we may yet see more movement that climbs Chiefs odds even higher.
Bills At Dolphins
One of the few games with a look-ahead line, this opened with Dolphins odds as short favorites. However, after the Ravens thrashed them and the Dolphins sustained a number of NFL injuries, including getting Tua Tagovailoa banged up, Bills odds reopened at -2.5. Initial action on Buffalo moved them to the key number.
Despite the Bills’ recent success against the Dolphins and tough injury spot for Miami, it seems like this should be the ceiling on the number. The Bills laying -3.5 here would likely inspire a strong buyback on the other side.
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NFL Week 18 Spreads Near Key Number of 7
Browns At Bengals
As the Browns had sewn up the No. 5 seed, it was already assumed in the market that Joe Flacco would get a break to catch up on his sleep in Week 18. What was not assumed was the Browns being so cautious that they’d even bench backup QB PJ Walker. In fact, the team announced on Wednesday that third-stringer Jeff Driskel draws the start.
Markets responded in kind by steaming Bengals odds up to and through the key number after they sat at -6 early Wednesday morning.
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