Week 18 is always tough when it comes to picking NFL games. There is so much uncertainty as to who is playing and who is not. So I can use that as an excuse for my best bets debacle last week as part of the “Pick Six NFL” podcast.
I went 1-4, my worst week of the season. What a way to close the regular season. That dropped my record to 55-44-5, which is still solid, but the last two weeks have killed me in my race to beat R.J. White. Will Brinson, the host of the podcast, was long ago out of the running.
As for my CBSSports.com expert picks, I went 9-7 ATS and 10-6 straight up. That brings my record to 129-133-9 ATS and 169-101-1 straight up. That means it will take the playoffs to get me over .500 ATS, which I plan to do.
Let’s get a sweep of the wild-card weekend games. That’s right, 6-0. Let’s go.
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (Fox)
Featured Game | San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks
The 49ers beat the Seahawks twice during the regular season, once with rookie Brock Purdy starting. He hasn’t lost a start yet, but things change in the playoffs. The intensity goes up. I think Kyle Shanahan will find a way to make it easy on Purdy, even in the postseason. The 49ers defense will be all over Geno Smith. This will get ugly.
Pick: 49ers 28, Seahawks 17
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET (NBC)
Featured Game | Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Los Angeles Chargers
This is a game featuring two of the best young quarterback in the league. Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence will both be playing in their first playoff game, but I don’t think that will matter. The Jaguars dominated the Chargers in blowing them out in Week 3, but this will be a lot closer. Both passing games should have big days, so it should be a shootout. Look for the Jaguars to make one more big play to win it as Lawrence wins the first of his battles with Herbert.
Pick: Jaguars 34, Chargers 31
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)
Does Tua Tagovailoa play? If not, who does? The quarterback situation is in flux for Miami, but I don’t think it matters who plays. The Dolphins played well in losing to the Bills late in the season, but that won’t be the case here. Josh Allen and the offense will light up the Dolphins defense, while the Bills will limit the Miami big plays. The Bills will be moving on.
Pick: Bills 34, Dolphins 21
Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET (Fox)
Featured Game | Minnesota Vikings vs. New York Giants
These two played on Christmas Eve, and the Vikings needed a 61-yard field goal by Greg Joseph to win it. The Giants gained 448 yards of offense that day and probably should have won the game. But they didn’t. Now it’s a road playoff game, which will be a challenge. Even so, I think Brian Daboll will take advantage of a bad Minnesota defense. This one should be high scoring, as Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson will make some plays, but it will be the Giants that win it with a late field goal this time to advance.
Pick: Giants 30, Vikings 28
Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Featured Game | Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens
The big issue here is whether Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson can play. I will make the assumption that he does play here. He certainly will be rusty coming off missing five weeks, but he’s better than the alternative of him not playing. The Bengals have ripped off eight straight victories, not counting the canceled game, and they’ve looked every bit as good as the team that went to the Super Bowl last year. They beat up the Ravens last week, but that doesn’t matter. What will matter is Joe Burrow having a big day. The Bengals will move on.
Pick: Bengals 26, Ravens 19
Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN)
Featured Game | Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys looked awful in losing their finale to the Commanders, but really what were they playing for with the Giants resting players against the Eagles? Nothing. So erase that game, even if Dak Prescott looked bad. The Bucs got into the playoffs with a losing record, and they have issues. It’s easy to sit here and say Tom Brady will turn it on in the playoffs. But I don’t see it. Not against that Cowboys front. Prescott will play better for the Dallas offense to get them into the next round.
Pick: Cowboys 27, Bucs 21