Coach’s Picks: Best Bets Against The Spread, NFL Week 18

Each week throughout the 2023 NFL Season, coach Kevin Kelley will give a coach’s perspective and provide analysis for a few games against the spread.

Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans Spread Prediction:

Look for the Texans to cover as 1.5-point road favorites against the Colts and the game total to go OVER 47 points.

» Bet Texans -1.5 and Over 47 now!

Why I like the Texans to cover against the Colts and the total to go over 47 points in Week 18:

This game between the Texans and the Colts is a big one. Both teams need to win to have a shot to get into the playoffs.

C.J. Stroud came back and played last week after being off a couple of games with a concussion and pretty much picked up where he left off. He completed 75% of his passes and threw most of them to Nico Collins as they waxed the Titans 26-3.

Devin Singletary has looked better and better for the Texans as he had 80 yards rushing to help bolster a running attack that is their weakness on offense.

The Colts beat a resurgent Raiders team 23-20. Gardner Minshew looked good too as he threw for 224 yards on only 23 attempts for almost 10 YPA.

Just like last week, I like two bets in this game.

I really love the over 47 in this game primarily because of the defense that the Colts play and the fact that the Texans give up the third-most YPA in the NFL on defense.

Minshew has been a serviceable quarterback with 15 TDs against 9 INTs. He hasn’t been asked to throw for a lot of yards, but when called upon, he has been able to do so at an average to above-average rate.

Michael Pittman Jr. has been excellent this year with 104 receptions. Josh Downs has been a spark as well with his 65 catches. With Jonathan Taylor now back in game shape, he adds an element of the big play possibility in the run game that forces the defense to at least be aware of the play action pass.

The Colts have averaged 25 PPG at home this year, and that’s against some good defenses.

The reason I love the over is the defense that the Colts play. Their base defense is Cover 3, and they have played it more than anyone else in the league. Almost everyone knows that Stroud is at his best against that coverage.

Our good friend Warren Sharp pointed out some pretty gaudy stats for Stroud against that defense during the week. He is No. 1 in EPA per attempt, No. 4 in success rate, No. 2 in YPA, and No. 1 in percentage of attempts gaining 15 plus yards. That is phenomenal.

The reason I love the Texans to win in addition to the above is, they are No. 2 in YPC against the run with 3.3. They are going to force the Colts to throw, which I think they can certainly do some as the Texans are in the bottom three in the league in YPA given up by that defense.

But I do like that they are making teams do that in second- and third-and-long situations.

And one more thing that Mr. Sharp pointed out sometime this week: the last month of quarterbacks that the Colts have faced have included all backups, rookies, or guys that have been benched.

This game comes down to which quarterback is better because both teams will be throwing the ball because of the opposing defenses. I believe Stroud and the Texans offense is much better with the design of their plays, their intermediate throws down the field, and when the game is on the line. I prefer Stroud.

The Texans should go down there and win this game in a high-scoring fashion.

I’ll take the Texans -1.5 and the OVER 47 in this one.

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears Spread Prediction:

Look for the game total in the Packers and Bears to go OVER 45 points.

» Bet Over 45 now!

Why I like the Packers and Bears to go over the total in Week 18:

Jordan Love has surprised me this year. He has gotten better and better, and I can honestly say I thought he would be a failure. I give credit to the coaching staff for knowing how to handle him by seeing that he could throw the ball down the field efficiently, which stopped them from being so conservative with short throws so often.

Green Bay is No. 9 in DVOA on offense right now, and while the Bears defense is playing better than I believed they would, they are still very mediocre and just bad on pass defense.

Justin Fields is playing a little better at times than I thought but his legs are doing most of the work. He still looks down at the defensive line too much, leaves the pocket when he should be throwing the ball, and simply makes the wrong decision too often. That said, the Packers defense is good at rushing the quarterback but not very good behind it coming it at No. 28 in DVOA on defense.

I like the Packers here to win the game, but I like the over 45 more. That will be my pick in this game.

Take out that last game against Minnesota where it was more failure by the Vikings on offense than it was success by the Packers on defense, and Green Bay has given up over 29 PPG in their three games before that.

The Bears’ stat line in their last three in PPG looks decent, but they were against the Cardinals at home, the Falcons at home, and Cleveland with Joe Flacco throwing for 374 yards. They should have scored way more than 23 points, but 3 interceptions stopped that from happening.

Green Bay and Chicago should both put up 27 or more each in this one, and I look for a total score 10 points over the listed betting total.

I like the over 45 in this game!

Bonus NFL Best Bets for Week 18:

  • Ravens +3 (with their backups playing) against the Steelers
  • Panthers +4.5 against the Buccaneers
  • Raiders -3 over the Broncos
  • Bills -2 ½ over the Dolphins

Throw some Chick-fil-A money on them!

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