Well, we've made it to the end. Unfortunately, I've fallen well short of competing for a spot above the cash line in the SuperContest or Circa Sports Million, but I'm not too far off my long-term pace in the former, having hit on 55.3% of my picks over the first 17 weeks. Of course, the final week of an NFL season is its completely different than anything that came before, with questions about motivation and rest dominating the news cycle in the run up to the final games of the regular season, which can cause wild swings to a betting line.
That's reflected in where these lines lock for each contest, as the Westgate posts its contests lines at around 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday, while the Circa posts its contest lines at around 1 p.m. ET on Thursday. Take the Cowboys-Eagles game, which locked in at Cowboys -7.5 in the Westgate and then 19 hours later came in at Cowboys -4.5 in the Circa after Tyron Smith was put on the COVID list, leading to questions about whether it would be smart to leave Dak Prescott under center for four quarters and be exposed to unnecessary punishment. In Bears-Vikings, Minnesota locked in at -3.5 on Wednesday evening and then -5.5 in the other contest the next day after Justin Fields was placed on the COVID list.
I have a few games I love that I'll be using on both cards, but in the SuperContest, it certainly makes sense to take advantage of certain stale lines that were set without the benefit of what we know now.
I've been SportsLine's No. 1 NFL expert over the last four years, going 354-292-22 against the spread in particular during that stretch. I've also delivered a 57.1 percent hit rate on my SuperContest picks over the last six seasons, which is exactly what you're getting below. And that run includes two finishes in the money, including finishing 18th out of 2,748 entries back in 2017.
If you're a SportsLine subscriber, you can get all my picks, which in a typical NFL week number in the double digits, at the same time as I make them by downloading the app and signing up for alerts on my expert page. That's crucial, as you might not have access to the same lines from the Las Vegas contests, which don't move after they're posted mid-week. This week, I'm backing 'dog with nothing to play for against a team fighting for a playoff spot: the Atlanta Falcons +4.5 vs. the New Orleans Saints.
Maybe it's not fair to say the Falcons have nothing to play for; as a matter of fact, they could sweep the Saints for the first time since 2016 after getting swept by their bitter rivals both in 2018 and 2020. That would be a clear feather in the cap for first-year head coach Arthur Smith, whose job is safe heading into the offseason.
The Saints team the Falcons beat earlier in the year was on a much hotter run than this version of Sean Payton's squad, which pulled out a win and cover last week but did not play well against a Carolina defense that has had a tough second half. The Falcons are coming off a great defensive performance in the passing game against Josh Allen and face an easier test against a New Orleans offense that has had difficulty scoring points against everyone but the Jets since their own loss to the Bills on Thanksgiving.
This line is already dropping in the market with bettors expecting a closer contest, and I can't argue with them. Get the rest of my SuperContest picks and my Circa Million picks below.
So which teams should you back in Week 18? And which big underdog keeps it close?... Join SportsLine right now to see who you should back in Week 18, all from the expert who keeps crushing the world's most prestigious handicapping tournament!