• Jake Klausner

NFL Week 18 2021/22 Preview

It's Time For The Season Finale

Well, we have finally reached the end of the regular season. We have a pretty solid understanding of what the playoff picture will look like, but we still have a few teams left alive. The Colts, Raiders, Chargers, and Niners need a win to clinch a spot in the playoffs, while the Saints, Ravens, and Steelers need a little bit of help from the other teams.


With that said, let's get on with the preview. Oh, and I will also be giving you guys an Antonio Brown update, as that story is starting to get spicy.

 

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) vs. Denver Broncos (7-9)

Saturday 4:30 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN/ABC/ESPN2 Line: KC -11.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

KC can clinch the number one seed with a win and a TEN loss

  • The Kansas City Chiefs will likely go with most starters on Saturday because they would like to capture that home-field advantage. Patrick Mahomes should play for most of the game, and guys like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce should be out there too. However, the Chiefs will hold RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) out and save him for the postseason.


PREDICTION:

  • It'll be interesting to see what kind of game we get as Denver's defense could give Mahomes some problems, but I'm not expecting much from Drew Locke. I'm also looking for Mahomes to continue his late-season success as the Chiefs will get off to a big lead early, and it will hold.

Pick: KC -11.0



Dallas Cowboys (11-5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)

Saturday 8:15 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN/ABC/ESPN2 Line: DAL -4.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Dallas:

  • Dallas has already clinched a playoff spot, but they've got to finish the season on the right foot, as they are coming off a tough loss at home to Arizona. Not only that, but I don't think Dallas would be satisfied if they finished off their season by losing to an NFC East rival.

Philly:

  • As for Philly, they've already clinched as well, but they would love to knock off the Cowboys to finish the season. However, I'm not sure how many starters will play in this game, but WR Davonte Smith wants to suit up.


PREDICTION:

  • I think Philly's resurgence in the ground game is something to look out for in the postseason, and it's likely that these two teams could meet in the postseason. However, Dallas is determined to get a final win and secure home field in the first round. I believe that alone will be enough for the Cowboys to pick up the win.

Pick: DAL -4.5



Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) vs. Cleveland Browns (7-9)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: CLE-6.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Cincy can clinch the number one seed with a win and KC and TEN loss



  • The Bengals don't have a lot riding on the line as they've clinched a playoff spot, and many of their starters are not planning to play on Sunday. Cleveland is out of the running for a playoff spot and possibly looking to move on from Baker Mayfield, who won't play on Sunday to undergo shoulder surgery.


PREDICTION:

  • It depends on who starts for Cincy, but I don't see this game being that entertaining. I do think Cleveland's backup Case Keenum is a serviceable QB, and he can get the job done. I think the Browns will try to finish off the season on a high note.

Pick: CLE -6.0

Indianapolis Colts (9-7) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: IND -15.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Indianapolis can clinch a playoff spot with a win

  • After losing to the Raiders last week, the Colts missed their shot at clinching a spot. They get another chance this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. All signs are pointing to the Colts making it back to the playoffs once more.


PREDICTION:

  • I think it's pretty obvious who I'm going with in this game. Do I need to continue?

Pick: IND -15.0

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1) vs. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: BAL -5.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Pittsburgh can clinch a playoff spot with a win, an IND loss, and LV/LAC to not end in a tie.


  • It's not likely that Pittsburgh can make the playoffs, but the Steelers still have a lot to play for; after all, this is Big Ben's last game as a Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only that, but T.J. Watt has 21.5 sacks and needs just one more to tie Michael Strahan's single-season record he set in 2001 (22.5).

Baltimore can clinch a playoff spot with a win, an IND loss, MIA loss, and LV loss.


  • Like Pittsburgh, Baltimore has an outside chance to make the playoff. This season is one that Ravens fans would like to forget as injuries have plagued the team, especially the defense. It seems as the Ravens had to start their practice squad once they ran out of guys to suit up. I'm unsure as to whether or not Lamar Jackson will suit up. If not, Tyler Huntley will once again assume the role.


PREDICTION:

  • Baltimore is the better team, but Pittsburgh has more heart. They also have the spirit of Big Ben on their side. I believe the Steelers win for Big Ben, as he gets to lead the team for a final time.

Pick: PIT +5.0



Tennessee Titans (11-5) vs. Houston Texans (4-12)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: TEN -10.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Tennessee clinches the number one seed with a win.


  • The Titans managed an 11-win season without Derrek Henry and are one win away from clinching home-field advantage. The injury to their star running back hurt the offense, particularly Ryan Tannehill. However, that's all about to change as the Titans officially activated King Henry off the IR, and he will be available in the postseason. I'm expecting the Titans to make a deep playoff run this season.


PREDICTION:

  • The Titans have a chance to clinch the number one seed, but they have to get past a team that beat them earlier in the year. That's right. The Houston Texans have another chance at playing the role of the spoiler. However, I don't think Houston gets it done this time, as I believe the Titans are determined to get that advantage.

Pick: TEN -10.0

New Orleans Saints (8-8) vs. Atlanta Falcons (7-9)

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: NO -3.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

New Orleans clinches a playoff spot with a win and SF loss.

  • As a Falcons fan, I don't want to see the Saints make the playoffs. That's all I have to say on that matter. If New Orleans makes the playoffs, they won't go as far as having Taysom Hill at QB. We could be seeing Russell Wilson in the Big Easy next year, but that's a story for another day.


PREDICTION:

  • The Saints have had a rollercoaster of a season, but the Saints still have a shot. Their defense has the potential of helping them out, but I'm not sold on Taysom Hill. With that said, I would love to see Arthur Smith cap his first season off with an eight-win season. Please give me the Dirty Birds!!

Pick: ATL +3.5

New York Jets (4-12) vs. Buffalo Bills (10-6)

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: BUF -16.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Buffalo clinches AFC East with a win or NE loss, clinches number one seed win a victory + KC, CIN, TEN loss.



  • This season, the Buffalo Bills had to overcome many adversities to get to today. Josh Allen struggled on offense, and the Bills don't have a true identity in the ground game. However, the Bills seemed to have found something late in the season, and they got a massive win in Foxborough to put themselves in the driver's seat. Now, they are one win away from clinching their second consecutive AFC East title.

PREDICTION:

  • The Bills should have no troubles with the mighty New York Jets.

Pick: BUF -16.0

San Francisco 49ers (9-7) vs. Los Angeles Rams (12-4)

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: LAR -4.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

San Fran clinches playoff spot with a win or NO loss.


  • The 49ers have a lot riding on the line in this game. Win, and you win. If they lose, they can still get in, if my Falcons can beat the Saints. Regarding the QB controversy, I'm not sure who will start on Sunday. They have Jimmy Garoppolo (thumb) returning from a thumb injury. Garoppolo won't be a hundred percent, but he's willing to play through the pain. Kyle Shanahan will go with rookie Trey Lance if he's too compromised, who looked solid last week against Houston. In my opinion, I don't think the Niners should risk anything with Garoppolo. Go with the smart option and start Lance.

Rams clinch NFC West with a win or ARI loss

  • Meanwhile, the Rams have come a long way since their mid-season blunder. While Stafford hasn't looked sharp in his last couple of starts, they've still managed to win games. All eyes will be on WR Cooper Kupp, who is in a position to become the fourth player in NFL history to lead the league in receptions, yards, and TD catches (Jerry Rice, Steve Smith, and Sterling Sharpe). Currently, Kupp has 138 catches, 1,829 yards, and 15 TDs, all of which lead the league. Kupp is also 12 receptions away and 136 yards away from setting the single-season NFL records in both categories. Michael Thomas (2019) and Calvin Johnson (2012) currently hold the records in those categories, respectively.


PREDICTION:

  • Shanahan's scheme has always caused McVay's team problems in the past, including earlier in the season. Also, Matthew Stafford's play has regressed in the past couple of weeks, and Trey Lance looked more comfortable last week. I think both teams have plenty of talent, but I think the Rams will hold on. With my prediction of the Saints losing, I still believe the Niners will make the playoffs.

Pick: LAR -4.5

New England Patriots (10-6) vs. Miami Dolphins (8-8)

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: NE -6.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

New England clinches AFC West with a win and BUF loss, clinches number one seed with win + BUF, KC, TEN, and CIN loss.



  • Aside from Cincinnati, not many people picked New England to be in the playoffs at the beginning of the season. Well, the Patriots have clinched a spot, and they have a chance to clinch the AFC East. Mac Jones will likely win the offensive rookie of the year, while Bill Bellichick will possibly take home the coach of the year. However, knowing Bill, I don't think he cares too much about winning the award.


PREDICTION:

  • This game had the potential of being more critical. However, due to Miami losing last week, this game doesn't mean anything, which is the Patriots will win this game.

Pick: NE -6.0



Seattle Seahawks (6-10) vs. Arizona Cardinals (11-5)

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: ARI-6.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Arizona clinches NFC West with a win and LAR loss.



  • After beating the Dallas Cowboys last week, the Arizona Cardinals find themselves in a pretty good position. They would've clinched the NFC West with a win and LAR loss. Not only that, but they activated DE JJ Watt off the injured reserve on Friday, which means they'll likely have a defense at full strength for the postseason.

PREDICTION:

  • Even though Seattle is out of contention, I still expect them to fight on Sunday. However, the Cardinals are the better team, and they will come out on top.

Pick: ARI -6.5

Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) vs. Las Vegas Raiders (9-7)

Sunday 8:20 p.m. ET

TV: NBC Line: LAC -3.0

WIN OR GO HOME!!!!



WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

LAC:

  • The Los Angeles Chargers have quite a history of losing the big game. However, could this be a new era for the Chargers? In just his second season, Justin Herbert has shown us why he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and first-year HC Brandon Staley has demonstrated his willingness to be aggressive when it matters the most. To top it all off, they have plenty of playmakers on offense. The main question surrounding this team is whether or not they can win the big game. Well, this game doesn't get any bigger than this!

LV:

  • Considering the type of season the Raiders have had, it's incredible to see them at this point. A mid-season coaching change and their star player killing someone have been a season full of mishaps for the Las Vegas Raiders. However, despite all that, they've found a way to win the games that matter the most. Wins against Dallas and last week against Indy were crucial in getting them to this point. Can the Raiders erase the mishaps and pull off the unthinkable?


PREDICTION:

  • It's only fitting to have the final game of the regular season be the biggest game of the year. The winner of this game gets a playoff spot. The Raiders have shown resilience all season, but the Chargers are better. I think the Chargers will win this game, but I won't be surprised if the Raiders win as well. Even if the Raiders lose, they can still get in if Pittsburgh and Indianapolis lose.

Pick: LAC -3.0


 

I made sure to add the Antonio Brown shenanigans at the end of the preview. I'm sure you're well aware that AB is no longer a Buc after his actions during the Jets game. Brown released a statement telling his side of the story saying Bruce Arians and the Tampa coaching staff forced him to play. Furthermore, Brown claimed they tried to play off the fact he was playing through an ankle injury he had re-injured in practice before the game.


Right now, it seems like it's a "he said, she said" sort of thing, but Brown was playing through an injury, so there's a lot of questions being floated around. There's also been some talks about the possibility of AB returning to the NFL. We will have to see what happens next.


Jake Klausner covers all things sports for ThePyrrhic.com. Keep your eyes peeled for NFL Analysis, all things MLB, and more from Jake.


Follow him on Twitter @jake_klausner


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