NFL Week 18 Look-Ahead Lines: Which Games Will Matter Most?

Written By Mo Nuwwarah on January 2, 2022
NFL Week 18 look-ahead lines

NFL Week 18 look-ahead lines have hit the market, and this week features more potential movement than probably any other. Some games that seem important could wind up meaningless and some games that seem unimportant could wind up crucial to at least one team.

So, get your crystal ball out and start projecting this week’s results before you decide which NFL Week 18 look-ahead lines to bet.

Every week, usually on Thursday, TheLines will post look-ahead lines from FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook. These looks ahead give an early snapshot of the current market opinions of teams absent the week-to-week bias that can take hold following weekend results.

Note that FanDuel has opted against posting several markets, likely due to uncertainty over how this week’s results could affect these lines.

NFL Week 18 Look-Ahead Lines

Game
(Eastern Time)
(EST)
Bears at Vikings
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Vikings -6
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Vikings -5.5
Colts at Jaguars
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Colts -8.5
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Colts -9.5
Jets at Bills
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Bills -17
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Bills -17
Football Team at Giants
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Football Team -4
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Football Team -4
Saints at Falcons
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Saints -3.5
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Saints -3.5
Cowboys at Eagles
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Cowboys -3.5
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Cowboys -3.5
Steelers at Ravens
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Ravens -6.5
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Ravens -6
Bengals at Browns
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Browns -1.5
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Browns -1
Seahawks at Cardinals
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Cardinals -5
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Cardinals -5
49ers at Rams
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Rams -6
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Rams -6.5
Chargers at Raiders
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Chargers -2.5
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Chargers -2.5
Chiefs at Broncos
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Chiefs -3
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OTB
Panthers at Buccaneers
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Buccaneers -16.5
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OTB
Titans at Texans
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Titans -10
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OTB
Patriots at Dolphins
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Patriots -2.5
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OTB
Packers at Lions
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Packers -11
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OTB

Week 18 NFL Potential Marquee Games

Usually, this is where we discuss the NFL look-ahead lines for prime time games. However, Week 18 lacks any such games as the league chose to eschew even a Sunday Night Football game this season.

Trying to prognosticate which Week 18 NFL games will matter — and therefore which look-aheads are of most note — is a difficult exercise. Many of the games of potentially most import depend heavily on Week 17 results. For example, the Saints and Falcons could battle over a chance for the seventh seed or they could play for absolutely nothing.

So, we highlighted a few games that stand out as likely impactful.

Bengals At Browns

While many NFL fans likely view the Bengals as a cut above the Browns based on both teams’ recent results and performance, the market has a different opinion. It clearly believes these teams are close in strength. Remember that each of the Browns’ recent losses — to the Ravens, Raiders and Packers — all could have very easily been wins. If the Bengals keep rolling or even play the Chiefs close and the Browns falter again this week, though, it seems inevitable this line flips to the Bengals being slight favorites. That despite the fact the Browns crushed the Bengals in Cincinnati in Week 9, 41-16.

Chiefs At Broncos

Betting this game either way requires a bit of opinion about how Week 17 will go. If the Chiefs and Titans both take care of business as short-ish favorites, then the Chiefs must win this game to assure themselves of the top seed. If the Chiefs win and the Titans lose, then this game becomes totally meaningless (for the Chiefs) and KC will likely rest its starters. Perhaps that possibility is baked into the line here as the Chiefs were nearly double-digit favorites hosting Denver in early December. Denver must also win as road underdogs this week against the Chargers to remain alive, so plenty of moving parts are at work here. But, the Chiefs don’t figure to be -3 if this game turns out meaningful, so it might be a wise number to grab.

Cowboys At Eagles

The Cowboys seem pretty likely to have to fight for seeding even though they’ve already sewn up the NFC East. They’re tightly knotted with the Bucs and Rams currently and two of those teams seem likely to have fairly easy first-round assignments, assuming nobody catches Green Bay for the top seed. Given the number of teams still in contention, the Eagles seem likely to need a win to assure themselves of a playoff berth. So, this line probably reflects the expectation that both teams will give full effort. Both teams look to be peaking, but Dallas has the tougher Week 17 game, so taking the hook with the Eagles seems like the play if you want to get in on this market early.

MORE POTENTIAL WEEK 17 IMPACT ON WEEK 18 LOOK-AHEAD LINES

49ers At Rams

The 49ers look like a bit of a wild card going forward. They lost starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo to injury, but he says he’s considering playing through the hand ailment. A similar injury sidelined Drew Brees for several weeks back in 2019, so this counts as a bit of a surprise. Whether either Garoppolo or blue-chip prospect Trey Lance plays — and how they look — can swing this line. The 49ers already beat the Rams around the field once, and they can do it again at full strength. If their QB play looks poor, the Rams could even potentially cross 7 here.

Bears At Vikings

Recall that the Vikings closed around -7 for the first game against the Bears in Chicago. So, it’s a bit striking to see them only -6 in look-aheads for a home tilt with these same Bears. The Vikings could find themselves out of the race with a loss to the Packers this weekend. However, if they do pull an upset there and the other results break their way, this game remains meaningful. In that case, even with Chicago’s improved recent form, this line figures to climb.

HOW TO USE NFL LOOK-AHEAD LINES

The look-ahead lines allow you a sneak peek at the projected lines for the following week’s games. This information from a leading online sportsbook will help provide lessons in understanding lines and projections before the current week’s games are played.

Many bettors tend to overreact to the previous week’s scores and results. The NFL Week 18 look-ahead lines provide a sense of stability from the oddsmaker. They sometimes offer a clear, unbiased snapshot of perceived team strength

Bettors can also gain an edge or find value in the lines once the weekend results take hold. See if you can find any over- or under-reactions by the market.

Of course, always take note of key injuries, travel and scheduling situations, and NFL power rankings. Making adjustments is part of the process, along with accounting for teams’ strengths, weaknesses, against-the-spread angles and personnel matchups.

Mo Nuwwarah Avatar
Written by
Mo Nuwwarah

Mo Nuwwarah got his start in gambling early, making his first sports bet on his beloved Fab Five against the UNC Tar Heels in the 1993 NCAA tournament. He lost $5 to his dad and got back into sports betting years later during a 15-year run in the poker industry. A 2011 journalism graduate from Nebraska-Omaha, he combines those skills with his love of sports and statistics to help bettors make more informed decisions with a focus on pro football, baseball and basketball.

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