After sixteen weeks, the 2018 NFL Regular Season comes to a close, and thankfully the New Orleans Saints have clinched the top seed in the NFC and gained homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. They enter this final week with a second meeting against the Carolina Panthers. This leaves little reason for the Saints to give much time to many of their starters, making this little more than an exhibition game. Regardless of who plays, it would be nice to see the Saints secure a franchise-best 14-2 record! Now let’s take a look at the Saints’ regular season finale as well as all of the pivotal matchups in the final week of the 2018 NFL Season.
Last week I went 14-2
I told you so: Seahawks over Chiefs!
What do I know: Dolphins over Jaguars?
Sunday, December 30th - Early Games
Dolphins(7-8) at Bills(5-10)
Buffalo’s defense gets the job done at home against Miami. Buffalo wins 23-17.
Falcons(6-9) at Buccaneers(5-10)
With this win at Tampa, Atlanta’s path to 7-9 mediocrity is complete. Atlanta wins 24-23.
Cowboys(9-6) at Giants(5-10)
Even with starters resting, Dallas will have no problem beating the Giants here. Dallas wins 23-7.
Jets(4-11) at Patriots(10-5)
Playoff Scenario: A Patriots win coupled with losses by the Chiefs and Chargers will clinch the first seed in the AFC and homefield advantage. A Patriots win outright will clinch the second seed in the AFC and a first-round bye.
A big performance by the New England defense will be the story in this one. New England wins 25-12.
Jaguars(5-10) at Texans(10-5)
Houston will have no problem dispatching of Jacksonville in this one, making the Texans the AFC South Champions. Houston wins 29-7.
Lions(5-10) at Packers(6-8-1)
Green Bay is not likely to risk Aaron Rodgers with nothing on the line, leaving this as an easy win for Detroit. Detroit wins 32-17.
Panthers(6-9) at Saints(13-2)
He may not start from the first series, but Teddy Bridgewater will almost certainly be the quarterback for the Saints in this one, allowing Drew Brees extra rest going into the playoffs. It will be interesting seeing Teddy actually getting some playing time for the Saints. He will likely be rusty early on, but will have a good game in his first real time under center in New Orleans.
Down to their third string quarterback, Carolina will find it difficult to get anything going at all in this one. The Saints may have little to play for, but they’ll be determined to get this win over a team they truly dislike. The Saints will complete their second-consecutive season sweep of the Panthers by winning their fifth consecutive game over their division rivals. Saints win 20-6.
Sunday, December 30th - Late Games
Eagles(8-7) at Redskins(7-8)
Playoff Scenario: An Eagles win coupled with a Vikings loss will clinch a Wild Card spot.
Fighting for their playoff lives, Philly will be too much for Washington to handle. Philadelphia wins 31-18.
Chargers(11-4) at Broncos(6-9)
Playoff Scenario: A Chargers win coupled with a Chiefs loss will clinch the first seed in the AFC and homefield advantage.
Los Angeles avenges their surprising home loss to the Broncos by picking up this win in Denver. Los Angeles wins 22-16.
Raiders(4-11) at Chiefs(11-4)
Playoff Scenario: A Chiefs win will clinch the first seed in the AFC and homefield advantage.
The Raiders will keep this one interesting with their passing game, but Kansas City will ultimately be too much for them to handle. Kansas City wins 32-26.
Bears(11-4) at Vikings(8-6-1) - Game of the Week
Playoff Scenario: A Bears win coupled with a Rams loss will clinch the second seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. A Vikings win or an Eagles loss will clinch a Wild Card spot.
Minnesota’s defense will take advantage of some key turnovers, leading them to a surprising upset of Chicago, thanks to their desperation to reach the playoffs and having this game at home. Minnesota wins 23-20.
Browns(7-7-1) at Ravens(9-6)
Playoff Scenario: A Ravens win or a Steelers loss will clinch a Wild Card spot.
Baltimore’s defense will be too much for Cleveland in this matchup, making the Ravens the AFC North Champions. Baltimore wins 20-12.
49ers(4-11) at Rams(12-3)
Playoff Scenario: A Rams win clinches the second seed in the NFC and a first-round bye.
Los Angeles’ offense will continue to hit their stride against San Francisco. Los Angeles wins 31-13.
Bengals(6-9) at Steelers(8-6-1)
Playoff Scenario: A Steelers win coupled with a Ravens loss will clinch a Wild Card spot.
Pittsburgh will be desperate to keep their playoff hopes alive, while also watching the scoreboard for a Baltimore loss. Pittsburgh wins 27-17.
Cardinals(3-12) at Seahawks(9-6)
Thanks to a solid defensive performance, Arizona will keep this game closer than many would imagine, but Seattle will still get this win at home. Seattle wins 23-19.
Sunday Night Football
Colts(9-6) at Titans(9-6)
Playoff Scenario: The winner of this game will clinch a Wild Card spot.
Andrew Luck will lead Indy to victory in this de-facto playoff game in Tennessee. Indianapolis wins 24-21.
There you have it, the final week of the 2018 NFL regular season. Here’s to the Saints getting as much rest as possible for their starters! Leave us your picks, comments, and insight below!