NFL Week 18 Betting: Darius Butler's favorite bets of the week

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) passes the ball as they face the Saints during the first quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn. Titans Saints 813

The 2021 NFL regular season reaches its finale this week, and there is more than enough drama to keep fans glued to their TV sets. 

The Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders and San Francisco 49ers all need to win outright to secure a playoff berth, while the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints all need help from other teams if they are to reach the postseason. With so much at stake, it presents a perfect opportunity for NFL bettors to get in on the action.

My betting picks have gone 29-24 through 17 weeks, so let's cap off a successful season with a winning week. Here are my betting picks for NFL Week 18.

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Tennessee Titans (-10) over Houston Texans 

The Titans clinch the AFC's No. 1 seed with a win on Sunday. The Airbnbs have been scouted; the flights are booked.

Mike Vrabel's squad has figured out different ways to win all year. Entering Week 18, these Titans rank among the NFL's top 15 teams in team offense grade (76.7, 13th), team passing grade (79.3, 9th), team defense grade (69.9, 11th) and team coverage grade (87.2, 5th), and they're facing a 4-12 Texans team that is staring deep into the barrel of a full-blown rebuild.

Quarterback comparison
Quarterback R. Tannehill D. Mills
PFF Grade 83.5 55.1
Passer Rating Clean 97.3 94.0
Passer Rating Under Pressure 58.8 57.5
Big-Time Throw % 2.85% 3.03%
Turnover-Worthy Play % 3.18% 4.66%
Power Rating 4.5 1.0
Power Rating Rank 13th 23rd

After an impressive win over the Miami Dolphins last week, I expect more of the same this Sunday against the Texans. I think the Titans win by at least a couple of touchdowns.

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New England Patriots (-6) over Miami Dolphins

I am going with the rookie quarterback in this matchup.

Last week’s matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars was exactly what Mac Jones and this Patriots team required. Jones' 85.5 passing grade was a much-needed bounce back after earning five straight sub-70.0 passing grades.

This Dolphins defense is built to neutralize speed and is ill-equipped to truly dominate against the run. Last week, the Titans lined up and ran the ball down their throats. The Patriots will show up to Miami with the same game plan: run, run, run and play defense.

Entering Week 18, the Dolphins rank 17th among the league's 32 teams in expected points added (EPA) allowed per run play at -0.121 and 19th in rushing yards allowed per play at 4.3. The Patriots, meanwhile, are averaging 4.4 yards per rushing attempt and rank fourth in the NFL in explosive rushing plays of 10 or more yards (62).

This is another game where one team is playing with playoffs ahead and another team playing with their first offseason vacation in mind. The Patriots win this game and cover.

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Los Angeles Chargers (-3) over Las Vegas Raiders 

I believe that Justin Herbert is the best young QB in the league. If I had to select any QB in the NFL to build my team around for the next decade, he would be the guy. Sunday night, Herbert will get another chance to show the world what he’s about.

Quarterback comparison
Quarterback J. Herbert D. Carr
PFF Grade 89.4 79.0
Passer Rating Clean 103.0 106.9
Passer Rating Under Pressure 86.9 64.1
Big-Time Throw % 3.08% 5.59%
Turnover-Worthy Play % 1.54% 3.24%
Power Rating 6.5 5.5
Power Rating Rank 5th 9th

This should be an exciting game to wrap up the season: It's a win-and-get-in for both clubs. And it's simply incredible that the Raiders are even in this position, given everything they have been through this season.

Still, give me the Chargers by a touchdown to punch their ticket to the playoffs.

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Darius Butler is a former NFL free safety. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He has also played for the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts.

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