NFL 2018 Season - PS4
 

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Playoff Shuffle
by Dennis Ranahan

All 32 National Football League teams are in action today, as the league wraps up their 2018 regular season. Only one of the 14 outdoor sites will be interrupted by rain, that is in Houston where the Texans host the Jacksonville Jaguars.

There are five teams in search of the final two Wild Card slots. If the Indianapolis Colts or Tennessee Titans win tonight they are in the postseason, but if they tie, the Pittsburgh Steelers could leapfrog them into the playoffs with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Two teams have nothing to play for that are already locked into a playoff spot, the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys. The Saints have clinched the top seed in the National Football Conference, and the Cowboys are winners of the NFC East and can’t improve home field advantage with a win. The Seattle Seahawks are locked into a Wild Card berth, but with a win they could conceivable host an NFC Championship Game between two Wild Card teams.

Two teams need a win and help to advance to the postseason, that is the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers. As we already discussed, the Steelers could get a Wild Card berth with a win and tie in Tennessee, but they could also win the AFC North Division with a win if the Baltimore Ravens were to lose at home to the Cleveland Browns.

Six games were shifted to later starts today, all in order to have contests that are reliant on each other played at the same time. It is also a hedge against bright point spread players who would know early results would dramatically affect the motivation in later games and seize that almost unfair advantage before the books could shift the lines.

The basic formula for a final day of the regular season is to back teams that need a win when they are playing a team already assured of a postseason bid, and against teams that need a win when they meet a squad already eliminated from playoff competition. Other factors need to fall in line for us to declare a money play on these situations, but this base line serves making the final week of the regular season one of the most consistent winners of the year.

The next most important factor is to avoid wagering on a team that has nothing to play for this week with an eye on the postseason. They have reason to sit front line players to avoid injuries in a meaningless game before the playoffs. That is one of the primary reasons why the New York Giants over the Dallas Cowboys is our Top Pick of the Week. It is also our third Premium Top Pick of the season, our nine rated contest.

The public didn’t follow my basic formula in wagering their games. The most bet game this week by the public is the Philadelphia Eagles (-7) over the Washington Redskins. The second most bet game of Week 17 is the Los Angeles Rams (-10½) over the San Francisco 49ers. The third most bet game today is the Baltimore Ravens (-6½) over the Cleveland Browns.

As for our selections, they are now posted on this site and if a Bullet Play develops in the final hour leading up to the day’s first kickoff, that selection will be added to the list of recommendations at 9:45 a.m. Pacific Time.