The NFL was put on hold this week due to the terrifying incident on Monday Night involving Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin. Although it looks like Hamlin is progressing, he is still in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Nothing is as important as Hamlin’s health, as well as the mental health of everyone else who was on the field that day, so the Bills-Bengals game will not be played this season. Although the AFC playoff picture is a little confusing because of this, it won’t change the fact there are still some very big games to be played in Week 18.
Firstly, we’ll have the Jaguars and Titans on Saturday night. The scenario is simple for these two teams – win and you’re in. The Titans have struggled mightily down the stretch with both Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry missing time due to injuries. Although Henry will be back, Tannehill’s season is over, and the Titans are planning to start career backup Josh Dobbs against one of the hottest teams in the league in Jacksonville. Second year quarterback Trevor Lawrence is finding his groove and oozing confidence as the Jags have won five of their last six games.
On Sunday, a few more big games are on the schedule, starting with the Ravens and Bengals. With a win, the Bengals could possibly end up playing the AFC Championship in a neutral site if they make it, something we’ve never seen before. This, of course, is due to the cancellation of Monday’s game. However, if the Ravens win the game and these two teams are set to play each other in the Wild Card Weekend, home field advantage will be decided with a coin flip. Although it doesn’t look great for the Ravens as Cincinnati is a nine-point favorite, you truly never know what you’ll see when division rivals like these two go against each other with so many playoff implications on the line.
In the NFC, things are a little more black and white. Besides the top teams playing for seeding implications, the big games in this conference will be Seattle vs. Los Angeles and Green Bay vs. Detroit. If Seattle wins at home against the Rams as they should, Detroit will be eliminated from contention and look to play spoiler at Lambeau Field. Although many Seahawk fans were disappointed in the scheduling, the NFL could not pass up the possibility of the Packers and Lions playing for a playoff spot at Lambeau on Sunday Night Football. Even if Seattle wins, it’s hard to imagine Dan Campbell and the Lions not bringing their best to eliminate the rival Packers.
Regardless of who you cheer for, there will be drama in Week 18. More importantly, fans from across the world will continue to support Damar Hamlin and the Buffalo Bills and hope for the best case scenario for the 24-year old safety. Incredibly, Hamlin’s Go-Fund-Me has now reached over $8 million.
GAME PICKS (ML)
Jaguars / Bengals / Seahawks / Packers