We were 2-0 on our top NFL picks in Week 17 here at TheRX – Lions and Patriots covering at home – and fully expect another sweep in Week 18 as the regular season comes to a conclusion.
Here are two top picks with NFL odds from the best sportsbooks.
Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, January 8, 2023 — 01:00 PM EST at Acrisure Stadium
I keep forgetting that it’s no longer Heinz Field but Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh. CBS has this AFC North matchup between the Browns and Steelers.
You are going to notice a theme on NFL picks across all platforms this week: Which teams have motivation and which don’t?
The Browns have none as they are eliminated from playoff contention amid some reports that Coach Kevin Stefanski is in trouble, especially if the Browns can lure someone like Sean Payton or Jim Harbaugh to work with Deshaun Watson – who hasn’t looked very good since debuting off his 11-game suspension.
While guys who are moderately injured would do their best to take the field in a game that matters, there’s no point in risking their careers for one that doesn’t.
Thus, don’t expect two Cleveland Pro Bowlers, cornerback Denzel Ward and right tackle Jack Conklin, to play Sunday. Both left the Week 17 win in Washington due to injury and neither has practiced this week as of Thursday.
No Conklin would hurt Nick Chubb’s already long-shot chances of winning the rushing title as he has 1,448 yards, second behind the Raiders’ Josh Jacobs.
Pittsburgh (8-8) has never finished with a losing record under Coach Mike Tomlin, with his 15 straight non-losing seasons to begin a coaching career being an NFL record. That’s on the line Sunday.
The Steelers must win this game and have Miami lose at home against the New York Jets and New England lose in Buffalo on Sunday for Pittsburgh to earn the AFC’s final wild-card spot. Both the Dolphins and Patriots are underdogs, and both those games kick off at the same time as this one.
While the Steelers were largely dominated in a 29-17 Week 3 loss in Cleveland, the starting QBs that Thursday night was Mitchell Trubisky and Jacoby Brissett. Neither should play Sunday barring injury.
Pittsburgh rookie QB Kenny Pickett is getting better by the week with only one pick in his past seven games and back-to-back games with game-winning TD passes (in the final minute). No rookie QB had done that before.
Cleveland has lost 18 straight regular-season games in Pittsburgh. Make it 19, but let’s take the moneyline to avoid an ATS loss on a 2-point win or the like.
NFL Pick: Steelers (-142) at FanDuel
Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers
Sunday, January 8, 2023 — 08:20 PM EST at Lambeau Field
This game was flexed to Sunday night, which is being criticized by many around the league. Why? Because Titans vs. Jaguars is a true winner-take-all game for the AFC South, yet the NFL put that on Saturday night, which is largely a TV wasteland.
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay is the NFC’s final wild-card team with a victory (out with loss), but it would be meaningless for the Lions if Seattle wins at home vs. the terrible Los Angeles Rams in a 04:25 PM EST kickoff, and the Seahawks should win that game.
If Seattle is upset, then this would be a winner-take-all. No question that NBC/NFL preferred to have Aaron Rodgers in prime time on Sunday than Tennessee at Jacksonville. It’s all about ratings.
Have the Packers finally figured things out on a four-game winning streak? Rodgers has just one TD pass in each of those but the defense has been tremendous in allowing an average of just 17.0 ppg in that stretch.
Rodgers has decided that Christian Watson is his favorite target. Since Week 10, the second-round pick has had eight touchdowns (seven receiving and one rushing) and joined Randy Moss as the only rookie receivers in NFL history with eight scrimmage touchdowns over a four-game span (Weeks 10-13).
Also breaking out of late has been Keisean Nixon. He didn’t take over as the Packers’ full-time kick returner until midseason but leads the NFL with five kickoff returns of 50-plus yards and no other player has more than two. Nixon had a 105-yard kickoff return for a score in last Sunday’s rout of Minnesota.
Detroit looked in full tank mode with a 1-6 record and having traded former Pro Bowl tight end TJ Hockenson to Minnesota but still has a playoff pulse. Coach Dan Campbell says his guys will be going all out even if the Lions are eliminated before taking the field. Campbell might think that, but it would be human nature for the players to be deflated.
Including a 1994 playoff victory, the Packers are 28-3 against the Lions in the state of Wisconsin (couple of games years ago in Milwaukee) since 1992. The home team is 6-0 ATS in the past six meetings.
NFL Pick: Packers -4.5 (-110) at BetMGM