Circa Million IV NFL Week 18 Picks

The Circa Million IV handicapping contest concludes with the NFL Week 18 regular-season finale. Frankly, it's hard to peg each teams' motivation and I assume most of the contest will be picking similar games.

Check out the audio versions of my NFL Week 18 betting breakdowns on this week's OutKick Bets podcast featuring OutKick NFL analyst Dan Zaksheske.

Week 17 Recap (4-1):

Finally, I've gained ground in the Circa by snapping my three-week losing skid. My Circa Million IV record improved to 45-36-4 and my 47 contest points are tied for 675th out of 4,683 Circa entries.

Here are the Circa Million IV lines for NFL Week 18 followed by my picks ...

Circa Million IV NFL Week 18 Picks

Listed by order of confidence. First is most confident, and fifth is least.

Circa Pick #1: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-3.5)

This is my favorite NFL Week 18 look and I've broken it down in both written and audio forms already. Simply put, there's no motivation edge for either team and the Saints are way better by the numbers.

For instance, New Orleans ranks 13th in net EPA/play and seventh in both net yards per play (nYPP) and net success rate. While the Panthers are 24th in net EPA/play, 15th in nYPP, and 27th in net success rate.

(LISTEN to Panthers-Saints analysis on this week's OutKick Bets Podcast with Geoff Clark HERE).

Circa Pick #2: Detroit Lions (+4.5) at Green Bay Packers

Imma break down Lions-Packers in further detail Sunday morning and already did so on the NFL Week 18 OutKick Bets podcast with Dan Z.

However, I'm taking Detroit plus the points because Green Bay's current four-game win streak is fraudulent and Lions coach Dan Campbell will have his team amped regardless of Detroit's playoff situation.

Ultimately, this spread is inflated because of Green Bay's win streak, Aaron Rodgers, the Lions' curse and Lambeau Field's Frozen Tundra mystique.

Yet when you look at the Lions-Packers Tale of the Tape there aren't 4.5 points worth of difference between these teams. In fact, Detroit has a positive net points per play and Green Bay is negative in that stat.

(LISTEN to Lions-Packers analysis on this week's OutKick Bets Podcast with Geoff Clark HERE).

Circa Pick #3: Tennessee Titans (+6) at Jacksonville Jaguars

I whiffed submitting the Titans (-3.5) hosting the Houston as my fifth and final pick in Week 15. My logic was backing Tennessee head coach vs. a terrible Texans team regardless of the Titans' injury report.

Well, that backfired when Houston upset Tennessee 19-14 mostly because of how banged-up the Titans were. Tennessee then decided to rest several players vs. the Cowboys in Week 17 including five defensive starters.

Furthermore, the Jaguars smoked the Titans 36-22 in Week 14 in Tennessee. Essentially, Tennessee has been resting and preparing for an AFC South do-or-die Week 18 battle with Jacksonville.

At the end of the day, my rationale is Titans +6 is too big of a number to pass up when Vrabel has extra prep time. Tennessee is 9-1 overall and against the spread (ATS) on extended rest since hiring Vrabel in 2018.

(LISTEN to Titans-Jaguars analysis on this week's OutKick Bets Podcast with Geoff Clark HERE).

Circa Pick #4: Los Angeles Rams (+6) at Seattle Seahawks

Rams-Seahawks is the only NFL Week 18 betting breakdown unique to this post. If you listened to this week's OutKick Bets podcast then you've already hear me say the following trend:

Eliminated teams playing opponents who must win to clinch a postseason berth in the last two weeks of the season are 62% ATS over a 100-plus-game sample size.

Now, LAR's motivation is definitely a question mark entering the final week of the season. The Rams could be "getting ready for Cancun" so to speak. But, let's address the Elephant in the Room: LAR's motivation.

Rams head coach Sean McVay could be checked out. There are rumors swirling that he may retire and become a TV broadcaster. But, NFL coaches are humans too, and at least two Rams have a vested interest in this game.

Recently signed Rams QB Baker Mayfield is playing for his NFL future and this is a revenge game for first-year LAR, and former Seahawks, LB Bobby Wagner.

Perhaps McVay back-burners his offseason plans to help Wagner get vengeance and Mayfield garner interest from other teams or cement his place as Rams QB Matthew Stafford's backup.

Also, LAR is 2-2 overall and ATS over the past four weeks and have been eliminated from playoff contention for at least a month. Prior to the Rams signing Mayfield in Week 14, they lost six straight.

Say what you will about Mayfield but he's an upgrade over Rams QB John Wolford who started in LAR's 27-23 home loss to the Seahawks earlier this season.

However, the Rams covered as 7-point home underdogs and LAR is 7-1 ATS vs. Seattle in their last eight meetings. Mayfield will be the third quarterback the Rams have started over this stretch.

Plus LAR's ground game has come alive over the past two weeks and Seattle cannot stop the run. The Rams have rushed for at least 158 yards as a team in Weeks 16-17 and gained 171 yards on the ground vs. the Seahawks in Week 13.

Seattle's defense is 26th in both rushing EPA/play and yards per rush allowed (4.8) and 30th in rushing yards allowed per game (150.5). This is the main reason why the Seahawks are 28th in defensive third-down conversion rate.

Gimme the Rams plus the points and sprinkle on LAR's (+200) moneyline. I just have a hunch the Rams are going to end Seattle's year.

(LISTEN to Rams-Seahawks analysis on this week's OutKick Bets Podcast with Geoff Clark HERE).

Circa Pick #5: Cleveland Browns (+2.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers

Browns-Steelers is the last game to make my card because I'm high Pittsburgh rookie QB Kenny Pickett and LOVE coach Mike Tomlin. One of my biggest NFL takes in recent years is how underrated coach Tomlin is.

But, I'm knifing Pickett and Tomlin in their backs and rolling with the bad guy, Deshaun Watson, and the Browns. When you add up the Steelers' win streak with the Tomlin narrative, Cleveland +2.5 feels like a "trap line".

Maybe I'm misreading that hence Browns +2.5 being my fifth-favorite NFL Week 18 look. Also, isn't there a chance Pickett tightens up in the biggest game of his rookie season?

Lastly, Cleveland's defense has talent in the secondary. Browns pass rusher Myles Garrett is an NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate every preseason.

(LISTEN to Browns-Steelers analysis on this week's OutKick Bets Podcast with Geoff Clark HERE).