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Week 18 is the final week of the NFL regular season, and it’s also a slate where there are no Thursday and Monday Night Football games. Instead, we get two on Saturday and the rest on Sunday. This is also a week in which teams will rest starters like the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens or fight for their playoff lives like the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts.
Speaking of the Texans and Ravens, we have three early-in-the-week prop bets for those games involving their first drives.
Continue reading below to learn more.
The Ravens locked up the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a commanding win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 17, 56-19; thus, we can expect the starters to sit here. We may have seen quarterback Lamar Jackson go for a bit to shore up his MVP candidacy, but 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, who’s behind him in odds at most books, is sitting this one out due to a calf injury. So, we can expect a Tyler Huntley-led offense here, or shoot, maybe they elevate Malik Cunningham, formerly of the New England Patriots, for this one.
The Steelers can still make the postseason with a win here, so you know they’ll be going all out.
Should Huntley draw the start, he’ll face a Steelers defense that’s allowed zero points in the first quarter in their last three games.
Last season, Huntley had two starts against the Steelers. In those games, he had 218 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception while completing 22 of 33 passes.
Look for the Steelers defense to swarm Huntley all afternoon, including the first drive, even at home.
Again, they’re fighting for their playoff lives.
The Steelers offense has been much more potent with Mason Rudolph under center, averaging 6.7 points in the first quarter over their last three games, which is much better than their season average of just 3.4 points.
Still, the Ravens have depth on defense, and even if the starters sit this one out of play with limited reps, they’re still not going to roll over at home, especially against the Steelers.
The Steelers have many weapons, though, and they should be able to move the ball on a secondary with Rock Ya-Sin, Andrew Adams, and even Arthur Maulet back there as the second unit.
This season, Ya-Sin has allowed ten receptions on 19 targets across 154 coverage snaps, while Maulet has allowed 24 receptions on 40 targets.
We’re not sure of the exact configuration of the defense, but a field goal seems plausible given how Rudolph and the Steelers offense has played lately against a defense that’s typically stout, but likely with numerous reserves starting.
At home, the Colts clinch a playoff spot with a win. They’ll get the No. 7 seed if they win and the Jacksonville Jaguars win, but they could also get the No. 4 seed with a win and a Jaguars loss.
A win here and a Jaguars loss for the Texans means they get the No. 4 seed.
Expect all of the starters on the field here.
We like the Colts to kick a field goal on their opening drive.
This season, the Colts average 5.2 points in the first quarter, but did score seven last week. The Texans defense has allowed 4.9 points per game in the first quarter and even less than that at 4.3 over their last three games.
This will be a hard-nosed matchup between two teams that can run the ball and a quarterback matchup that favors the Texans. Still, the Colts have a quarterback in Gardner Minshew who can push the ball downfield.
At home with Minshew starting this season (five games), the Colts have kicked two field goals, scored two touchdowns, and kicked one punt.
Against a division opponent here, expect some better defense, thus resulting in a field goal after Minshew fails to deliver a touchdown pass.
After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in Journalism, Richard Janvrin has been covering iGaming and sports betting since December 2018. Richard has covered betting at Bleacher Report, Gambling.com, The Game Day, Forbes, and more.More info on Richard Janvrin
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