Week 18 NFL Picks: Can the Vikings Sneak Their Way into the Playoffs?

nick mullens
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Well, it all comes down to this.

After another sub-.500 week, we have one more chance to finish the season with a winning record. We went 7-9 for the second week in a row, and now sit five games below that even mark going into the final slate of games. Before we get into the Week 18 NFL picks, here is a look back at how we did in Week 17:

  • Browns -7 (W)
  • Cowboys -6 (L)
  • Bears +3 (W)
  • Patriots +12 (W)
  • Colts -3.5 (L)
  • Rams -4.5 (L)
  • Eagles -10.5 (L)
  • Buccaneers -3 (L)
  • 49ers -13 (W)
  • Panthers +6.5 (L)
  • Ravens -3.5 (W)
  • Titans +4.5 (L)
  • Seahawks -3.5 (L)
  • Broncos -3 (W)
  • Bengals +7 (L)
  • Packers +2 (W)

Season Record: 124-129-17

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports.
  • Spread: Steelers -4
  • O/U: 36.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Steelers -4

The Steelers need this game much more than the Ravens do, seeing as Baltimore has already secured the No. 1 seed, and the Ravens will be resting a good chunk of their starters this weekend as a result. Pittsburgh gets a win on Saturday and hopes to secure a spot in the playoffs.

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas., Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023.
  • Spread: Texans -1.5
  • O/U: 47.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Texans -1.5

In his first primetime appearance at the NFL level, C.J. Stroud has a chance to cement Houston’s spot in the playoffs. Both Houston and Indianapolis have been incredible comeback stories this season, but at the end of the day, the Texans are a more talented squad.

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers

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  • Spread: Packers -3
  • O/U: 45.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Bears +3

For the second year in a row, the Green Bay Packers have a chance to secure a spot in the playoffs if they are able to beat an NFC North rival at home. However, similarly to last year, the Chicago Bears are a surging team that has been playing much better football since these two squads last met in Week 1. The Bears can play spoiler here.

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) walks off the field after a stalled drive in the third quarter during a Week 17 NFL football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The Kansas City Chiefs won, 25-17.
  • Spread: Bengals -7
  • O/U: 37.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Browns +7

Since Cleveland is locked into the No. 5 seed regardless of the outcome, the expectation is that a good chunk of their starters will rest. Meanwhile, the Bengals are eliminated from the playoffs and could end up playing some of their younger depth pieces as well. The Bengals ultimately should win this game, but it will be a close matchup.

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

Lions quarterback Jared Goff passes against the Vikings during the second half of the Lions’ 34-23 win over the Vikings on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, at Ford Field. © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK.
  • Spread: Lions -3.5
  • O/U: 45.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Lions -3.5

The Lions still have an outside chance at the No. 2 seed in the NFC, so they are not expected to rest many players this weekend. Meanwhile, the Vikings could be without a number of players due to injury this weekend. Detroit looked like the better team in the last meeting, and they double down on that at home.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans

Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.
  • Spread: Jaguars -3.5
  • O/U: 41.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Jaguars -3.5

Jacksonville needs this game to ensure that they win the AFC South. Trevor Lawrence’s status is in question at this point in time, but the Jaguars need him to play this game, and I believe he will. As a result, Jacksonville gets a win on the road.

New York Jets at New England Patriots

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
  • Spread: Patriots -2
  • O/U: 30.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Patriots -2

Bill Belichick’s tenure in New England could be coming to an end with this game, and it comes against a team that he historically has dominated over the years. The Patriots have had a chance to play for the No. 1 pick over the past month, and instead, they’ve opted towards trying to win as many games as possible. New England gets one last victory here.

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports
  • Spread: Saints -3
  • O/U: 42.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Saints -3

Both Atlanta and New Orleans are fighting for their playoff lives this weekend. and each team has an outside chance to win the NFC South. Being at home, New Orleans will be buoyed by the home crowd to a win, and then, they become feverish scoreboard watchers for the rest of the afternoon.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
  • Spread: Buccaneers -4.5
  • O/U: 37.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Buccaneers -4.5

The Buccaneers have not played great football as of late, and they actually had a tough time with Carolina the last time these two teams met. Still, this game is for a division title, and Tampa Bay will find a way to win it.

Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
  • Spread: Raiders -3
  • O/U: 37.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Broncos +3

The Raiders defense has been playing some inspirational football as of late, and Denver is trying to figure things out after benching Russell Wilson last week. This game serves as a revenge game of sorts for Jarrett Stidham, and the Broncos get the job done.

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports.
  • Spread: Eagles -4.5
  • O/U: 42.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Giants +4.5

The Eagles have not played very good football recently, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. This leaves the door open for veteran Tyrod Taylor to keep this one close for New York. Philadelphia should win this game, but just like last time these teams met, it will be a close game.

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

Links Vikings to Another
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
  • Spread: Seahawks -2.5
  • O/U: 47.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Cardinals +2.5

The Cardinals refuse to go down quietly this season. They are coming off a strong win against the Philadelphia Eagles, and now, they can end the playoff hopes of their division rivals. Seattle’s offense has been stagnant as of late, and Arizona steals one more win this season.

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • Spread: Chargers -3.5
  • O/U: 35.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Chiefs +3.5

Blaine Gabbert will be starting for the Chiefs this week, but this is a defensive unit in Kansas City that should be able to handle Easton Stick. The Chiefs don’t need this win, but they get it anyway.

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers

The Vikings Have Daunting
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
  • Spread: 49ers -4
  • O/U: 40.5 points

Frey’s Pick: 49ers -4

Instead of Matthew Stafford vs. Brock Purdy, it’s Carson Wentz vs. Sam Darnold this weekend. Both teams are rolling out their B-squads with playoff positions secured, so the 49ers win this one at home.

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Commanders

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) looks to pass against the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. Nfl Dallas Cowboys At Tennessee Titans
  • Spread: Cowboys -13
  • O/U: 46.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Cowboys -13

The Cowboys have gotten through the tough waters of their schedule, and they have one more chance to beat up on a bad team before the playoffs start. They will do exactly that against the Washington Commanders.

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins

Week 18 NFL Picks
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports.
  • Spread: Bills -3
  • O/U: 48.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Bills -3

The Bills have gotten back to playing their dominant football following their bye, and after a four-game winning streak, they have a chance to jump all the way to the No. 2 seed in the AFC with a win to clinch the AFC East. Miami could not handle Buffalo’s physicality last time around, and that will ring true once again in Week 18.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.