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Sam Farmer’s Week 18 NFL picks

UPDATED: Sat., Jan. 8, 2022

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) passes the ball during an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Jan 2. 2022, in Green Bay, Wis.  (Associated Press)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) passes the ball during an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Jan 2. 2022, in Green Bay, Wis. (Associated Press)
Sam Farmer Los Angeles Times


By Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

Steelers (8-7-1) at Ravens (8-8), 10 a.m. Sunday

Line: Ravens by 5½. O/U: 41½.


The Steelers’ offense leaves a lot to be desired, but Najee Harris is capable of big-time performances. These games are typically close, and because the Steelers won the first one, go with the home team.

Prediction: Ravens 23, Steelers 21

Titans (11-5) at Texans (4-12), 10 a.m.

Line: Titans by 10. O/U: 43.

The Titans aren’t going to allow themselves to be swept by a feeble Houston team. Plus, Derrick Henry is coming back for Tennessee, although he might not be an immediate factor.

Prediction: Titans 31, Texans 17

Colts (9-7) at Jaguars (2-14), 10 a.m.

Line: Colts by 15½. O/U: 44.

The Colts have a playoff pulse, and Jacksonville has just two wins – but those came against Miami and Buffalo, so anything can happen in this weird league. Still, go with the better team.

Prediction: Colts 27, Jaguars 17

Bengals (10-6) at Browns (7-9), 10 a.m.

Line: Browns by 6. O/U: 38.

Baker Mayfield is out, but that might not be a bad thing for the Browns, who should get solid play from Case Keenum. The Bengals will be minus QB Joe Burrow (rest) and RB Joe Mixon (COVID-19).

Prediction: Browns 24, Bengals 20

Packers (13-3) at Lions (2-13-1), 10 a.m.

Line: Packers by 3½. O/U: 44½.

No matter who plays, the Packers get the edge. But the Lions should be able to run on them. Between D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit could make it close. Team doesn’t quit.

Prediction: Packers 24, Lions 20

Bears (6-10) at Vikings (7-9), 10 a.m.

Line: Vikings by 3½. O/U: 44½.

Kirk Cousins coming back makes a huge difference for the Vikings. Both teams are out of playoff picture, but Minnesota is playing for pride – and to make coach Mike Zimmer look good. Should be close.

Prediction: Vikings 27, Bears 23

Washington Football Team (6-10) at Giants (4-12), 10 a.m.

Line: Washington by 7. O/U: 38.

Washington isn’t good, but the Giants are terrible. Jake Fromm is starting at quarterback for the Giants, and he’ll have a hard time moving the ball. Washington is still playing hard.

Prediction: Washington 28, Giants 16

Jets (4-12) at Bills (10-6), 1:25 p.m.

Line: Bills by 16½. O/U: 41½.

The Bills should win this going away, considering the incentives in front of them. But the Jets aren’t giving up, even though they’re out of the postseason picture. Weather could keep score down.

Prediction: Bills 28, Jets 20

Patriots (10-6) at Dolphins (8-8), 1:25 p.m.

Line: Patriots by 6½. O/U: 40.

As amazing as Miami’s seven-game winning streak was, the Dolphins fell back to earth with a brutal loss to Tennessee. In the opener, Miami eked past the Patriots, who should exact revenge.

Prediction: Patriots 28, Dolphins 23

Panthers (5-11) at Buccaneers (12-4), 1:25 p.m.

Line: Buccaneers by 8. O/U: 41½.


The Buccaneers continue to roll and find new guys to step up. Tampa Bay will have its entire starting secondary for the first time since Week 1. Committee of Tampa Bay running backs sets the pace.

Prediction: Buccaneers 35, Panthers 16

Saints (8-8) at Falcons (7-9), 1:25 p.m.

Line: Saints by 4½. O/U: 40½.

The Saints don’t have much on offense, but their front seven is tough. Hard to run on them, and when their corners are healthy, that defense can clamp down. That’s the difference.

Prediction: Saints 23, Falcons 20

Seahawks (6-10) at Cardinals (11-5), 1:25 p.m.

Line: Cardinals by 6½. O/U: 48.

TV: Fox

The Cardinals typically play Seattle tough and have the incentive of an NFC West title if the Rams stumble against the 49ers. Seattle might be able to run a bit, but its defense is porous.

Prediction: Cardinals 28, Seahawks 20

49ers (9-7) at Rams (12-4), 1:25 p.m.

Line: Rams by 4. O/U: 44½.

The Rams have lost five in a row to San Francisco. Both teams are incentivized. The Rams can take advantage of vulnerable 49ers corners and win their sixth straight to clinch the NFC West.

Prediction: Rams 27, 49ers 24

Chargers (9-7) at Raiders (9-7), 5:20 p.m.

Line: Chargers by 3. O/U: 49½.

Winner gets into the playoffs. When that Raiders front four is rushing the passer the way it can, it’s hitting home. Derek Carr has been making plays. Feels as if the Raiders can split this season series.

Prediction: Raiders 27, Chargers 24

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