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PFT’s Week 18 2021 NFL picks

Both teams' postseason fates hang in the balance as the Chargers face the Raiders (Jan. 9, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC) in a regular season finale where the winner heads to the playoffs and the loser's season is over.

It could be a photo finish.

Tied a week ago, we disagreed on one game. MDS took the Browns, I took the Steelers, and Big Ben Night ended up pushing me to 13-3. MDS was 12-4.

I’m 165-90-1, and he’s 164-91-1. With 16 regular-season games to go, we disagree on five the week.

For all picks in Week 18, scroll away.

Cowboys (-7) at Eagles

MDS’s take: Neither of these teams has much to play for, but it sounds like the Cowboys think it’s worth risking injuries to try to improve their playoff seed, and I think they’ll get the win.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 30, Eagles 20.

Florio’s take: In the last week of the season, the team with more to gain has the edge.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 27, Eagles 17.

Chiefs (-10) at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Chiefs need a win to stay in contention for the AFC No. 1 seed. They’ll get it against a Broncos team that’s already eliminated.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 34, Broncos 21.

Florio’s take: The Chiefs need to regain their confidence after a horrible second half in Cincinnati.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 35, Broncos 23.

Packers (-2.5) at Lions

MDS’s take: It’s hard to know how hard the Packers will be playing now that they’ve got the No. 1 seed locked up, but I expect them to beat the Lions even if Jordan Love is at quarterback.

MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Lions 21.

Florio’s take: The Packers need to learn from the example set by the Ravens in 2019 and not take a three-week break between meaningful games. Green Bay should keep the saw sharp, injury risks be damned.

Florio’s pick: Packers 31, Lions 24.

Bears (+2.5) at Vikings

MDS’s take: Both of these teams are out of contention, but the Bears look like they’re playing a little harder as they play out the string.

MDS’s pick: Bears 24, Vikings 21.

Florio’s take: Mike Zimmer gets a win in what could be his last game with the Vikings.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 24, Bears 21.

Patriots (-6.5) at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The Dolphins laid an egg in a big moment last week in their loss to the Titans, and now that they’re out of it I think they’ll fold up and lose big again.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 30, Dolphins 13.

Florio’s take: The Patriots have had issues in Miami, but New England needs to win and the Dolphins are headed to another non-playoff season after winning seven in a row.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 27, Dolphins 17.

Colts (-15.5) at Jaguars

MDS’s take: A Jaguars win would be the biggest upset of the season -- and would cost the Jaguars the first overall pick in the draft, and likely cost the Colts a playoff berth. It’s not happening.

MDS’s pick: Colts 27, Jaguars 12.

Florio’s take: The Jaguars started the 2020 season with a win over the Colts at home, before losing 15 in a row. This time around, the stakes are much higher for the road team, with a playoff berth on the line.

Florio’s pick: Colts 31, Jaguars 3.

Jets (+16.5) at Bills

MDS’s take: The Jets have been playing more competitive football of late, and I think they’ll keep it close against the Bills for about a half before the Bills pull away.

MDS’s pick: Bills 27, Jets 17.

Florio’s take: The Bills are finding more offensive balance, but Josh Allen needs to iron out the turnovers. This is a good pre-playoffs tuneup.

Florio’s pick: Bills 34, Jets 13.

Panthers (+8) at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: The Bucs don’t have much to play for on Sunday, but Bruce Arians says they’re playing to win, and I think they will.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 34, Panthers 14.

Florio’s take: This a great pre-postseason opportunity for the Bucs to get Tom Brady more comfortable with his available offensive players.

Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 41, Panthers 21.

Titans (-10.5) at Texans

MDS’s take: With the No. 1 seed on the line, I can’t see the Titans stumbling.

MDS’s pick: Titans 24, Texans 13.

Florio’s take: The top seed plus the potential return of Derrick Henry will make the Titans a potential Super Bowl contender.

Florio’s pick: Titans 30, Texans 17.

Washington (-6.5) at Giants

MDS’s take: Neither of these teams is going anywhere, but Ron Rivera will have his team playing hard and Joe Judge won’t.

MDS’s pick: Washington 28, Giants 10.

Florio’s take: It’s way more fun to watch Joe Judge press conferences than it is to watch his team play.

Florio’s pick: Washington 27, Giants 17.

Saints (-4) at Falcons

MDS’s take: The Saints are still in contention heading into the final game of the season, which is impressive given their injury and COVID-19 situations this season. I think they’ll take care of business on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Saints 27, Falcons 17.

Florio’s take: The Saints still have a chance to get to the playoffs. If they make it, they could make things interesting. Especially for the Buccaneers.

Florio’s pick: Saints 24, Falcons 17.

Steelers (+5.5) at Ravens

MDS’s take: T.J. Watt will break the sack record, and the Ravens will send Ben Roethlisberger out with a loss.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 20, Steelers 17.

Florio’s take: Sunday’s experience in Baltimore for Big Ben will be the exact opposite of Monday’s experience in Pittsburgh.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 24, Steelers 14.

Bengals (+1.5) at Browns

MDS’s take: I don’t know if the Bengals are going to play to win or not, but I suspect they’re going to rest some key players, and yet I like them to win anyway against a Browns team that seems like it’s ready to pack it in this week.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Browns 20.

Florio’s take: This one is impossible to pick, given that Joe Burrow (and presumably other starters for Cincinnati) won’t be playing. Give the edge to the home team.

Florio’s pick: Browns 23, Bengals 21.

Seahawks (+6.5) at Cardinals

MDS’s take: The Cardinals will win, forcing the Rams to win if they want to win the NFC West.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 24, Seahawks 20.

Florio’s take: In what could be the final game of the Pete Carroll/Russell Wilson relationship, they’ll send Arizona into the postseason with their fifth straight home loss.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 27, Cardinals 20.

49ers (+4) at Rams

MDS’s take: The Rams will win, clinching the NFC West and sending the 49ers home.

MDS’s pick: Rams 23, 49ers 17.

Florio’s take: The 49ers continue their mastery of the Rams, and they set themselves up to become a disrupting force in the postseason.

Florio’s pick: 49ers 23, Rams 20.

Chargers (-3) at Raiders

MDS’s take: In the final game of the regular season, a big game from Justin Herbert will give the Chargers a big win.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 34, Raiders 24.

Florio’s take: With everything the Raiders have endured the year, a win-and-in opportunity won’t be squandered against a Chargers team that has been way too inconsistent.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 24, Chargers 21.