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ProFootballDoc: Actionable Health Issues for NFL Week 18

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The final Sunday of the NFL regular season is here and we hope to close strongly. The Cowboys dominated given the Eagles’ COVID “gamesmanship” and “bye week” mentality of resting starters gets us off to a great start and hopefully we can finish with a double digit win margin on the season.

When teams have nothing to play for, it is hard to predict effort and this makes the final Sunday tricky, but there are some actionable health issues. As always, make your own decisions but use the Field View and SIC score to confirm them. Here are the rest of our top five picks (with Dallas in the books) plus honorable mentions. We factor in matchups, recent health trends and other factors but in general a 15 point or greater SIC score differential is a play and a 10-point differential is an honorable mention.

CLEVELAND -5.5 vs CINCINNATI

Neither team has anything to play for, but the Bengals are clearly treating this as a rest week before the playoffs, having clinched the AFC North. Joe Burrow is resting and a host of other teammates including Joe Mixon are out. In fact, Cincinnati may be on a modified Eagles COVID “gamesmanship” protocol having more practice squad call-ups. One look at the Field View and you can see the significant offensive and defensive line issues for the Bengals leading to a 14.7 SIC score disadvantage. With neither team’s starting QB playing, Case Keenum seems to be the better choice over Brandon Allen.

MINNESOTA (-4) vs CHICAGO over 44.5

Both defenses miss key players and thus the offenses rank significantly higher on the SIC score scale indicating a high-scoring game. The Bears’ two best defenders, Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks are out. The Vikings miss three out of four defensive lineman, Eric Kendricks and likely two of the better CBs. Kirk Cousins is back. While Justin Fields is out, Andy Dalton and David Montgomery are capable of moving the ball. Both head coaches are on the hot seat and have nothing to lose, which may also push the scoring.

INDIANAPOLIS -14 @ JACKSONVILLE

The Jaguars are an injury mess offensively with Trevor Lawrence’s main weapons and protectors out. A Colts victory qualifies them for the playoffs and they are pretty healthy offensively and even get Parris Campbell back. This could be a big Jonathon Taylor day. Jacksonville’s preoccupation is with a new head coach, clown costumes and the offseason.

BUFFALO -16.5 vs N.Y. JETS

The Bills are among the healthier teams and the Jets are not. The home team here has an over 20 point SIC score advantage. Buffalo can clinch the AFC East title with a victory. The Jets have played well the last two games at home and even pushed Tampa Bay, but this road game should have the momentum to the Bills’ division crown coronation.

Honorable Mentions:

HOUSTON (+10) vs TENNESSEE under 42

Two healthy defenses and missing offensive stars.

L.A. RAMS -4 vs SAN FRANCISCO

Jimmy Garoppolo is playing but no way his thumb is 100%.

Go to www.SICscore.com to see all the Field Views and SIC scores as well as run vs pass game matchups on this final day of the regular season.

Written by Pro Football Doc

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

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