NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 18

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Kansas City @ Las Vegas (+9)

Patrick Mahomes passed for 3 touchdowns as the Chiefs edged the pesky Broncos and Russell Wilson in Kansas City.

"Patrick is closing in on his second Most Valuable Player award," Andy Reid said. "On the other side of the coin, Tyreek Hill is having balls thrown to him by a guy named Skylar Thompson. And by 'thrown,' I mean in the loosest sense of the word. No offense to Skylar, but he provides no offense."

With Derek Carr benched for the final two games, Jarrett Stidham led the Raiders to a near upset of the visiting 49ers in Las Vegas. Stidham passed for 3 TDs, two to Davante Adams, but Vegas fell short in a 37-34 overtime loss.

"I think this just shows," Adams said, "that I can dominate whether I'm catching passes from a Hall of Fame quarterback from California, or a fourth-round goof from Auburn. It also shows that Derek Carr is closer to the latter."

Late in the game, Mahomes throws a bounce pass TD pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster, and bewildered officials originally call it a touchdown before official review overturns it.

Chiefs win, 27-24.

Tennessee @ Jacksonville (-7)

The Jaguars beat the Texans, 31-3, and will face the Titans with the winner taking the AFC South title.

"The last time this franchise played in a game of similar magnitude," Doug Pederson said, "Blake Bortles was the quarterback. But I hesitate to tell Trevor Lawrence to play like Blake Bortles. That's like the kiss of death."

The Titans lost 27-13 to the Cowboys in Nashville on Thursday night. Tennessee rested Derrick Henry and started Joshua Dobbs at quarterback after signing him from the Lions practice squad in December. Dobbs will start against the Jaguars.

"I've got all the confidence in the world in Joshua," Mike Vrabel said. "It was an easy decision naming him the starter. Heck, he has a degree in aeronautical engineering, so it actually was rocket science."

Titans win, 21-17.

Tampa Bay @ Atlanta (-3)

Tom Brady hooked up with Mike Evans for 3 touchdowns as the Buccaneers clinched the NFC South with a 30-24 win over the Panthers in Tampa.

"I passed for 432 yards and 3 touchdowns," Brady said. "I guess the 'old' Tom Brady is back. But let's be honest, he never left.

"You can't be surprised that I'm in the playoffs. So, you can say 'This is getting old' and be right on at least two levels."

Younghoe Koo's 21-yard field goal as time expired gave the Falcons a 20-19 win over the visiting Cardinals. Atlanta improved to 6-10.

"As meaningless wins go," Arthur Smith said, "this was our sixth of the year.

"Todd Bowles claims he plans to play his starters on Sunday, even though the Bucs can't finish better than the NFC's fourth seed. I'm here to tell you that Todd is a 'Bowles-faced' liar."

Falcons win, 24-16.

New England @ Buffalo (-6½)

Mac Jones passed for two touchdowns and the Pats defense scored on an interception return, powering New England to a 23-21 win over the visiting Dolphins. With a win over the Bills, New England would earn a wild card playoff berth; they could still make it with a loss, but would need lots of help.

"We rather not leave anything to chance," Jones said. "Those were also the instructions Robert Kraft gave to his lawyers after he was busted getting a handy in a massage parlor in Florida. The man is truly an inspiration."

Bills win, 30-13.

Minnesota @ Chicago (+3½)

The Packers defense stifled Minnesota's offensive attack in a dominant 41-17 win over the Vikings. Kirk Cousins had 4 turnovers and Justin Jefferson was held to 1 reception.

"Fans in Minnesota often say 'Skol,'" Cousins said. "The Packers said 'Skoal,' because they chewed us up and spit us out.

"I guess Green Bay's Jaire Alexander backed up his statement that Justin Jefferson's big game against the Packers in Week 1 was a 'fluke.' Apparently, Jaire spells 'fluke' with a capital 'F' and a capital 'U.' But I can promise you, Justin will bounce back. If he doesn't, then the only 'bouncing' will be us from the playoffs."

The Lions stomped the Bears 41-10 at Ford Field. Justin Fields rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown, but passed for only 75 yards.

"Our receiving corps is not the most talented group in the NFL," Matt Eberflus said, "so Justin often doesn't know who he's throwing to. Often, the receivers don't either.

"Justin's been ruled out, so Nathan Peterman will be starting. Nathan may not give us any chance of winning, but he gives us a great chance of getting the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft."

Vikings win, 28-16.

Baltimore @ Cincinnati (-5)

The Ravens blew a 13-3 lead in the third quarter and lost 16-13 to the visiting Steelers. Baltimore is 10-6 and will be the No. 5 seed in the AFC.

"I'm sure the subject of a lot of talk will be Lamar Jackson's extension," John Harbaugh said. "That could either mean a contract extension, or the extension of Lamar's middle finger when he says 'Kiss my ass' and signs with another team."

Bengals win, 26-17.

L.A. Chargers @ Denver (+3)

The Broncos lost 27-24 to the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Russell Wilson passed for a touchdown and ran for two other scores.

"I guess that's the closest Russell's been to 'cooking' this year," said interim head coach Jerry Rosburg. "But seriously, I think our guys could care less if we let Russell cook. I think most just would rather let Russell burn.

"I still think we can 'fix' Russell. The question is, 'Do we want to?' Brokeback Mountain may not be in Colorado, but I assure you, we can quit Russell Wilson."

Denver wins, 23-20.

Houston @ Indianapolis (-2½)

The Colts lost 38-10 to the Giants at MetLife Stadium. Nick Foles was knocked out of the game in the second quarter, leaving Sam Ehlinger to finish the game.

"Our quarterbacks lead the league in mop-up duty," Jeff Saturday said. "And, as a matter of fact, I'm a head coach on mop-up duty."

Jacksonville hammered the Texans 31-3 at NRG Stadium. Houston fell to 2-13-1 on the season and will finish the season without a home win.

"While many teams are jockeying for playoff position," Lovie Smith said, "we're trying to hold on to our No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft. I know it's been a long, grueling, and arduous season, but I think we have plenty left in the 'tank.'

"I really think Bryce Young will be a Texan next year. He could be the next David Carr, but let's hope that's only because Bryce will be sacked upwards of 70 times next season."

Colts win, 24-20.

NY Jets @ Miami (-1½)

The Dolphins lost 23-21 to the Patriots in Foxboro and are 8-8. Miami can make the playoffs with a win over the Jets and a New England loss at Buffalo.

"This is a marquee matchup," Mike McDaniel said. "And the marquee may read 'Mike White Vs. Skylar Thompson.' And if that's on the marquee, you can best believe the fine print will read 'Good seats still available.' And the even finer print will read 'For $5.'"

The Seahawks dominated in a 23-6 win over Mike White and the Jets in Seattle. New York has lost five in a row and are 7-9.

"Our quarterback situation is in flux," Robert Saleh said. "'Flux' is also a word that rhymes with a word I use often to describe our quarterback situation.

"We've been waiting for Zach Wilson to take that next step in his development as a quarterback. Sadly, it seems that 'next step' may be one that leads out the door."

Jets win, 24-19.

Carolina @ New Orleans (-3½)

The Panthers squandered a 21-10 fourth quarter lead and eventually lost 30-24 to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. The loss officially eliminated Carolina from the playoffs, while Tampa clinched the NFC South.

"Our owner David Tepper reportedly spoke with Jim Harbaugh about the coaching position," Steve Wilkes said. "That doesn't bode well for my chances to get the job. It's not surprising, because Tepper literally has a 'blacklist,' and no one is on it."

Saints win, 20-17.

NY Giants @ Philadelphia (-14)

The Giants clinched a playoff spot in resounding fashion, blasting the Colts 38-10 at MetLife Stadium. Daniel Jones passed for 2 touchdowns and ran for 2 more, totaling 268 total yards.

"Giants fans have been waiting four years for this kind of performance from Daniel," Brian Daboll said. "He's finally answered questions about how good of a quarterback he can be. He's also raised a lot of questions, the most interesting being 'Which team will allow Daniel's performance in one game to sucker them into signing him to a massive long-term contract?' If I have anything to say about it, it might be us."

With Jalen Hurts still out, Gardner Minshew and the Eagles offense struggle in a 20-10 home loss to the Saints. Philly can still clinch the NFC's No. 1 seed with a win or a tie, or a Dallas loss or tie against Washington, or a San Francisco loss or tie versus Arizona.

"Jalen and Gardner are both what you would call 'difference makers,'" Nick Sirianni said. "Of course, it all depends on how you define 'difference.'"

Eagles win, 28-21.

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh (-3)

Deshaun Watson passed for 3 touchdowns to lead the Browns to a 24-10 win over the Commanders at FedEx Field. Cleveland is 7-9.

"Deshaun looked awesome," Kevin Stefanski said. "This is the kind of performance we were expecting when we sacrificed our morals, dignity, respect, and loads of money to make him our franchise quarterback.

"Look, this organization has had its share of quarterbacks who made dumb decisions. Take, for example, Bernie Kosar and his financial decisions. Or Johnny Manziel and any decision. Deshaun looked at those and said, 'Hold my penis, I mean beer.'"

Kenny Pickett's 10-yard touchdown pass to Najee Harris with 56 seconds left gave the Steelers a 16-13 win over the Ravens in Baltimore. The victory kept Pittsburgh's playoff hopes alive. They'll be in with a win and losses by both Miami and New England.

"This will be my first game against the Browns," Pickett said. "I'm sure I might be a little nervous, but I like to think I have a good head on my shoulders. And I'd like to keep it that way. That's another way of saying to my offensive line, 'Keep Myles Garrett away from me.'"

Browns win, 19-16.

Arizona @ San Francisco (-14)

The Cardinals lost 20-19 to the Falcons and fell to 4-12, last in the NFC West.

"I'm sure my offseason will be replete with a lot of soul searching," Kliff Kingsbury said. "And probably even more job searching."

The 49ers beat the Raiders 37-34 in overtime in Las Vegas. San Fran is 12-4 and is currently the No. 2 seed in the AFC, but could move up to No. 1 with a win and an Eagles loss to the Giants.

"Brock Purdy is well on his way to being a star in this league," Kyle Shanahan said. "Kliff Kingsbury is well on his way to being an offensive coordinator in division 2 college football."

49ers win, 34-14.

L.A. Rams @ Seattle (-6½)

The Seahawks kept their playoff hopes alive with a 23-6 win over the visiting Jets. With a win over the Rams and a Packers loss to the Lions, Seattle would take the No. 7 and final playoff spot.

"Win or lose," Pete Carroll said, "I'll find comfort in knowing we gave everything we had. I'll also find comfort knowing the Broncos gave everything they had to get Russell Wilson from us."

The Rams lost 31-10 to the Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Baker Mayfield struggled, going 11-for-19 for 132 yards and no touchdowns.

"I have a great relationship with Baker," Sean McVay said. "We've done anything but butt heads, although Baker's tried almost every time he sees me."

Seahawks win, 24-19.

Dallas @ Washington (+4½)

The Cowboys beat the short-handed Titans 27-13 in Nashville on Thursday night. Dak Prescott overcame 3 turnovers and tossed 2 scoring passes to Dalton Schultz.

"We can still earn the NFC's No. 1 seed," Mike McCarthy said. "Doing so would guarantee us at least one home playoff, and also guarantee us at least one home playoff loss, because that's what we do."

Carson Wentz threw 3 interceptions, sending Washington's playoff hopes down the drain in a 24-10 home loss to the Browns.

"I guess my decision to start Carson over Taylor Heinicke backfired," Ron Rivera said. "I was actually wearing a tuxedo when I made that decision, so it failed in spectacular fashion."

Cowboys win, 30-19.

Detroit @ Green Bay (-4½)

The Packers overwhelmed the visiting Vikings 41-17 at Lambeau Field. Green Bay's defense forced 4 turnovers and returned an interception for a TD, and Keisean Nixon put the Packers on the board with a 105-yard kickoff return for a score in the first quarter.

"Brett Favre has a lot in common with this year's Vikings," Aaron Rodgers said, "because they've both been accused of 'fraud.'"

The Lions walloped the visiting Bears 41-10, as Jared Goff passed for 255 yards and 3 touchdowns. Detroit is still in the playoff hunt, but needs a win over the Packers and a Seahawks loss to the Rams.

"I have all the faith in the world that Jared can do what needs to be done to get us into the playoffs," Dan Campbell. "I absolutely have no faith that Baker Mayfield can do the same."

Packers win, 26-24.

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