Friday Five, Week 18

Rams vs. 49ers: Studs and duds from Week 10 loss

We’ve reached the final week of the NFL season. Hopefully you’re not relying on these results for your fantasy championship. Several of these teams are counting on this week’s games as a shot for them to get to an NFL Championship. The final week of the NFL season is always exciting, and this figures to be no exception. Below are the five games on the Sunday slate I’m most excited to see, plus my Week 18 picks.

Sunday Early Games

Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) at Cleveland Browns (7-9)
This game has no bearing on the playoffs. The Browns are out, the Bengals have won the AFC North and are in. It could impact the seeding, if the Browns win and the Bills prevail, the Bengals would be clearly the fourth seed. What draws me here is the battle for Ohio. These games are usually fun, and I suspect despite their playoff fate the Browns will play hard to end the season on a good note.

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1) at Baltimore Ravens (8-7)
Another battle of AFC North rivals, but this one could have playoff implications. Emphasis on the word could. The Steelers won on Monday night to move to 8-7-1 and hang in the playoff race. The Ravens, meanwhile, were once 8-3 and have lost five straight. It’s unclear who starts at quarterback, but this could well be Ben Roethlisberger’s final game against the Ravens. The winner here is technically still alive… provided that Jacksonville can beat the Colts. But it could be a fun game to watch either way.

Sunday Late Games

New Orleans Saints (8-8) at Atlanta Falcons (7-9)
The Saints were once 5-2, but a 3-6 stretch has left them needing plenty of help to make a return to the post-season. Still, the Saints are still alive. That’s more than can be said for the Falcons, who sit at 7-9 and will miss the post-season. This is a battle of enigmatic offenses, but these divisional rivalry games are always fun. If Taysom Hill and Alvin Kamara can power the Saints past the Falcons, there is a chance they still get into the playoffs. The Falcons, meanwhile, can play the role of spoiler and end the season on a high note with a home victory.

San Francisco 49ers (9-7) at Los Angeles Rams (12-4)
This is the game the Saints will be scoreboard watching. The Rams are locked into the playoffs and a win can help them lock in the NFC West title and the No. 2 seed. A loss could see them as a Wild Card and on the road. For the 49ers, the situation is even more dire. A win secures their post-season berth. A loss coupled with a Saints’ win would find them on the outside looking in. The 49ers have won five straight over the Rams, including a 31-10 win earlier this season. Jimmy Garoppolo is still ailing but logged some limited practices, so we’ll see who gets the call for the 49ers. Either way, this NFC West battle has plenty of drama.

Sunday Night Game

Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) at Las Vegas Raiders (9-7)
Divisional battles are always fun, especially when there’s this much on the line. Typically, the final game of the season in Prime Time on NBC is a win and get in affair, and that’s the case here as the Chargers and Raiders do battle. The winner is in and gets some bragging rights. The loser is out, left to wonder what if. No matter what happens the rest of the day, this one has major playoff implications. It also pits Justin Herbert, one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, leading his team against Derek Carr and the Raiders, who’ve battled off-field issues and injuries to win the last three games and get to this point. I’m excited to see which team can pull off the win Sunday night in Las Vegas.

Week 18 Picks

In Week 17, I went 11-5. It was a respectable mark. Lindsay went 15-1, cutting my lead to four going into the final week. In the larger MCDI Writers pool, I have to give a shout out to Jason, who is up three picks on me heading into this week’s games. Will those standings change? Will Lindsay catch me? I guess we’ll soon find out.

Matt’s Picks:
Chiefs Over Broncos
Cowboys Over Eagles
Bengals Over Browns
Packers Over Lions
Bears Over Vikings
Washington Over Giants
Colts Over Jaguars
Ravens Over Steelers
Titans Over Texans
Saints Over Falcons
Bills Over Jets
Patriots Over Dolphins
Buccaneers Over Panthers
Rams Over 49ers
Cardinals Over Seahawks
Raiders Over Chargers

Last Week: 11-5
Season: 161-94

Lindsay’s Picks:
Last Week
: 15-1
Season: 157-98

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.

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