Welcome to unchartered waters.
NFL Week 18 is a specialist’s special. It’s never happened before, comes with an overhang of COVID-19, and a Philadelphia Eagles game against the Dallas Cowboys that has no impact on the standings.
But New Jersey gamblers can overcome the COVID outbreak hitting the Eagles and Cowboys, which made an already-meaningless game impossible to handicap.
Navigating the NFL may require some tongue-in-cheek perception and an adventurous perspective, but there is still a good gambling landscape.
Start with at least a passing glance at the Eagles game. Take a look to see how much quarterback Gardner Minshewplays either instead of or in relief of Jalen Hurts. It should at least be a half, maybe more. See if some Minshew propsgrab your imagination close to kickoff.
Otherwise, here are five solutions to navigate a quirky Week 18. Think of these in terms of small bets that carry a lot of entertainment.
NFL Week 18 Props At NJ Sportsbooks
1. Enjoy the no-strategy strategy
Here are some Eagles-Cowboys bets at DraftKings Sportsbook just to say you had action.
Will the Eagles’ point total end odd or even? Both are -110.
Will the point total of the game end in odd or even? The odd is -120 and the even is +100. Some thought required here. Now we’re rolling.
Will the game be tied after 0-0? That’s -110 on either side.
Will there be three unanswered tallies in the game? This usually comes out in an NFL contest and thus the yes is -220. But the no is +175, which is good value if you think the teams will just show up and go through the motions.
Will the largest lead of the game be more than 13.5 points? The yes is -140 and the no is +105.
2. Enjoy Carson Wentz’ Sprint To The Playoffs
Wouldn’t this be poetic irony? Fans clamored for Jalen Hurts to replace an ineffective Wentz while the Eagles floundered last year. Philly wasn’t big enough for both of them, so Wentz was peddled to the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason.
Looks like both teams won.
Hurts has guided the Eagles into the playoffs. Wentz can do the same if the Colts beat the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road. They are prohibitive favorites.
Wentz and Hurts might both be leaders of a playoff team, proving that this deal benefitted both teams.
This constitutes another way to root for Wentz, who still has a legion of supporters in New Jersey.
3. Build A Sizable Moneyline Parlay
Take a bet with all the teams that need to win. Besides Wentz’s Colts, there are many others.
The Kansas City Chiefs need to defeat the Denver Broncos on Saturday to stay alive for the AFC No. 1 playoff seed. The Chiefs would at least wrap up the No. 2 position, and two home playoff games, with a victory. They can also root for an unlikely Sunday upset.
If the Chiefs win, then the Tennessee Titans must defeat the Houston Texans to clinch the No. 1 spot on Sunday. The odds say the Titans roll them. But a few weeks back, the lowly Texans beat the Titans.
Does Houston have Tennessee’s number or is this payback time?
The Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots are heavy favorites in games they each need to win.
The Bills can clinch the AFC East by defeating the New York Jets as a big home chalk. Yes, the Bills crushed the Jets earlier this year, but New York came ever so close to defeating Tampa Bay last week.
The Patriots are stuck in a road-playoff scenario for the first round unless they defeat the Dolphins and the Jets help them. Unlikely, but they need to show up for this road game.
NFC Playoff Teams
In the NFC, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can still shoot for the No. 2 spot by defeating the Carolina Panthers, who have nothing to play for. The Bucs must win and then need the Los Angeles Rams to lose to the San Francisco 49ers.
And that could happen.
The Rams are favored, but they have lost five straight to the 49ers. Talk about pressure: if the Rams win, they guarantee two additional home games as the second seed. If they lose, they could open the playoffs on the road.
If they lose to San Francisco, the Arizona Cardinals can steal the division by beating the Seattle Seahawks.
Now look at the whole deal. What happens if you take all seven and add the Colts for Wentz?
It’s an eight-team parlay that pays +484 at DraftKings.
Yes, you can always count on a parlay buster and it is always difficult to string eight winners together, even if they are all prohibitive.
But the moneyline is the option on this ticket because a gambler can’t lay the huge spreads in all of these games. If there was ever a haves vs. have-nots’ week to consider this bet, it’s now.
Alternate idea: tease the spreads and totals on some of these games and work up a parlay with a little more point-spread risk and a larger reward, along with fewer games played.
4. Shorten The List
Most combinations of any four teams on this moneyline ticket puts the bettor into positive numbers. Picking five can put the ticket at above +200.
There’s nothing wrong with a 2-1 return. And in this ticket, that would require three fewer wins.
As insurance against the Rams stumbling, one can think about a third ticket with the New Orleans Saints and the 49ers. They are both desperate. A Saints win over the Atlanta Falcons, coupled with a Niners loss to the Rams, puts the Saints in the postseason. That would make a Saints-Niners parlay worth considering.
And if you like that, take the Niners +175 on the moneyline, too.
When all of this is done, a bettor can simply enjoy the Los Angeles Chargers-Las Vegas Raiders win-and-in scenario at night. That can be one where you sit back, relax, and enjoy.
5. Handicap The Eagles’ Postseason Opponent
The Birds will be a major underdog wherever they go next week. But gamblers can scout out prospective matchups.
It could be Tampa Bay. The Eagles covered the spread against the Bucs in a 28-22 loss midway through the season.
It could be Arizona. Kyler Murray’s ability to scramble, when he decides to, makes this an undesirable matchup.
It could be the Cowboys. Dallas has formidable weapons, but often takes the foot off the gas pedal. Hard to believe this weekend will provide any insight.
It could also be the Rams. Although the Rams have more weapons, Matthew Stafford is always a threat to toss a game-changing pick-six.
Watch these teams, bet lightly, and get an early feel for the Eagles’ playoff game next week. All told, there’s a lot of lifeto this supposedly “dead” week in the NFL.
(AP Photo/Zach Bolinger)