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NFL Week 18: seven teams battle for final three playoff spots

The first week 18 in NFL history kicked off on Saturday afternoon. 14 more games will take place on Sunday and major playoff implications will be involved.

Three spots remain in NFL playoffs

This season’s NFL postseason will feature 14 teams, with the top team in each conference earning a first round bye, and the remaining teams participating in a standard one-game-knockout bracket format. 11 teams have already punched their ticket to the playoffs, although seeding remains up in the air for some of them.

That leaves three remaining spots, two in the AFC and one in the NFC, and there will be seven teams competing for those spots.

Not all paths to the playoffs are created equal

Those spots will not be equally-easy to attain for all clubs, however. Some teams need various outcomes to go in their favor while others need just one. Take the Baltimore Ravens, who have the worst possible odds out of all teams that do still have a chance to get in. They are listed at 41.00 to grab one of those final two AFC positions. That is less than a 3% chance. To pull it off, they would need to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers at home and, as described by defensive coordinator Don Martindale, “need a three-game parlay to hit.”

That parlay would be a Las Vegas Raiders win over the LA Chargers, a Jacksonville Jaguars win over the Indianapolis Colts and a New England Patriots win, or tie, against the Miami Dolphins.

On the opposite end of the spectrum would be the Indianapolis Colts who are heavily favored to get in at 1.08; a 93% chance. All they need to advance to the playoffs is a win, or tie, against the league-worst Jacksonville Jaguars. Even if they lose, there remains other outcomes that could still get them in.


We are not going to run through all scenarios for all teams involved as it gets very complicated. However, here is a look at all seven teams’ odds to make or miss the playoffs, in order of best to worst.

Indianapolis Colts – Yes: 1.08, No: 7.50

San Francisco 49ers – Yes: 1.62, No: 2.30

LA Chargers – Yes: 1.68, No: 2.20

Las Vegas Raiders – Yes: 2.05, No: 1.80

New Orleans Saints – Yes: 2.30, No: 1.62

Pittsburgh Steelers – Yes: 15.00, No: 1.02

Baltimore Ravens – Yes: 41.00, No: N/A

Key games

Those seven teams will be involved in five games on Sunday.

The Colts (1.10 ML) will visit the Jaguars (8.00 ML), as mentioned above, at 1:00 pm ET. Indy is listed as 14.5-point favorites.

The Ravens (1.57 ML) will host their rival Steelers (2.50 ML) from M&T Bank Stadium at 1:00 pm ET. The Ravens are 3.5-point favorites.

The Saints (1.57 ML) will travel to Atlanta for a meeting with the Falcons (2.50 ML) at 4:25 pm ET. New Orleans is expected to win by 3.5 points.

The Rams (1.55 ML) and 49ers (2.55 ML) will meet in Los Angeles at 4:25 pm ET. The Rams are favored by 3.5 points.

Finally, the Chargers (1.60 ML) and Raiders (2.30 ML) will face off from Allegiant Stadium in Los Angeles at 8:20 pm ET. The Charges are favored by 3 points.

Other NFL bets

A couple of other fun bets to look at are the AFC East and NFC West division winner odds.

The Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots find themselves tied for first in the AFC East at 10-6. The Bills do own the tie-breaker, but in the case of a Bills loss and Patriots win, the Pats would move into first. The Bills are listed at 1.05 to hold the top spot while New England is listed at 11.00 to overtake it.

The Los Angeles Rams lead the Arizona Cardinals by a game in the NFC West. In the event of a Rams loss and a Cardinals win, LA would surrender their top spot to Arizona. The odds of that happening are set at 3.60, while the Rams are listed at 1.28 to maintain their spot.

It is going to be a wild Sunday in the NFL.