N.F.L. Week 18 Predictions: Our Picks Against the Spread

The Texans (4-12) shockingly upset the Chargers last week, but it’s unlikely that Houston will pull off a win against the Titans (11-5), who will want to bury this one early with the A.F.C.’s No. 1 seed — and a bye week — on the line. Pick: Titans -10.5

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m., CBS

Line: Bengals -2 | Total: 42.5

Joe Burrow told reporters Wednesday that he will not play Sunday to rest ahead of the playoffs, and its unclear whether many other Bengals (10-6) starters will, too. Baker Mayfield will be out for a shoulder surgery while the Browns (7-9) continue their limp toward the exit.

The spread acknowledges the potential lineup holes, but Cleveland has been clobbered in its last two games and it’s hard to bet on a team that’s already so checked out. Cincinnati’s backups should win. Pick: Bengals -2

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m., Fox

Line: Packers -2.5 | Total: 42.5

The Packers (13-3), having already secured the N.F.C.’s top seed and a first-round playoff bye, will rest their starters, resulting in the low spread against the otherwise outmatched Lions (2-13-1). Coach Matt LaFleur said Green Bay will approach the season finale “like any other game,” regardless of the risk for injuries in a meaningless game. Approach that statement with skepticism but bet the Packers with your eyes closed. Pick: Packers -2.5

Jets at Buffalo Bills, 4:25 p.m., CBS

Line: Bills -16.5 | Total: 43

The Jets (4-12) narrowly lost to Tampa Bay, the defending Super Bowl champions, last week and have shown that they have building blocks to develop the franchise. None of that matters to the Bills (10-6), though, who need to win to clinch the A.F.C. East and secure a home playoff game. They are capable of blowing out the Jets, but that depends on Josh Allen protecting the ball (he threw two interceptions in the first half against Atlanta last week). If he does, Buffalo fans should have their folding tables ready. Pick: Bills -16.5

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, 4:25 p.m., CBS

Line: Patriots -6.5 | Total: 40

Miami was eliminated from playoff contention last week with a blunt end to its seven-game win streak, and could go out with a whimper against the Patriots (10-6). Since 2016, though, the late-season matchups between these two have been trap games: The Dolphins are 4-7 against the Patriots over that period, with all four of those wins coming in the second meeting.

Mac Jones has matured into an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate for New England, Damien Harris has improved his ball security over the season and the defense now allows the third-fewest yards per game (311.6). New England is building steam ahead of the playoffs and a win here clinches the division (if the Bills also lose). It should sidestep the trap. Pick: Patriots -6.5

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