The final week of the NFL regular season means the final week of NFL survivor pools (unless you're in a pool that extends through the playoffs). Only 7.72% of entries were bounced in Week 17, as the six most popular picks all won. More than 40% of this week's selections are locked in on two teams — the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks.
Before we dive into the Week 18 picks, let's look back at Week 17:
Week 17 picks
Best Bets: 4-0 (YTD: 26-11)
Leans: 0-0 (YTD: 15-5)
Traps to avoid: 0 eliminations avoided (YTD: 18)
On to the Week 18 picks!
San Francisco 49ers (-14) vs. Arizona Cardinals
When these two met in Mexico City seven weeks ago, the Niners beat the Cardinals by four touchdowns. It's been all downhill for Arizona since that night. An inability to close out games and an injury bug that keeps biting have led to six straight losses. Star safety Budda Baker was recently sent to injured reserve, stud WR DeAndre Hopkins has been ruled out of the season finale, and Sunday's quarterbacking duties versus the league's best defense will fall to third/fourth-string QB David Blough. Even with 11 starts from Kyler Murray and three from Colt McCoy, the Cardinals offense ranks third-worst.
Arizona currently holds the fourth pick in the 2023 draft and has a chance to jump into the top three if the favored Denver Broncos win this week. San Francisco can claim the NFC's top seed and a bye with a win over the Cardinals, paired with a loss by the Eagles, who are playing at the same time. The Niners offense ranks sixth in rushing success rate and seventh in dropback success rate and will once again plow through an Arizona defense that ranks 23rd and 31st in those respective categories.
San Francisco is the fourth-most popular play this week, at 14.38%.
Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) at Las Vegas Raiders
The Chiefs can earn the AFC's No. 1 seed and a first-round bye by beating the already-eliminated Raiders on Saturday. It's always helpful to pick motivated teams in survivor pools, and it's even better when those teams have the personnel and coaching to see it through. Patrick Mahomes is 8-1 versus the Raiders in his career. Over the last two seasons, Mahomes has completed 71.8% of his passes and thrown 11 touchdowns to zero interceptions when facing Las Vegas. He'll have plenty of time to pick apart DVOA's second-worst defense behind an offensive line that's first in ESPN's Pass Block Win Rate and third in Run Block Win Rate.
Most entries have already used the Chiefs, who are the 13th-most popular pick this week, at 1.38%.
Philadelphia Eagles (-14) vs. New York Giants
New York head coach Brian Daboll won't divulge the team's personnel plans until Friday night, but Giants beat writer Pat Leonard came out of Thursday's practice feeling confident that several starters will be rested in Week 18. I'm guessing Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley will be among those on the bench, teeing the Eagles up for an easy home win that would lock up the No. 1 seed and allow them to stay at home throughout the NFC playoffs. Luckily, you won't have to make your pick until you see confirmation that New York is resting players and that Jalen Hurts is returning from his shoulder injury to play in this must-win game. Only the Chiefs are scoring more points per drive than Philadelphia, who ranks third in offensive DVOA and fifth in defensive DVOA.
Like Kansas City, most entries are unable to pick the Eagles. At 2.14%, they're the 10th-most popular team.
Minnesota Vikings (-7.5) at Chicago Bears
The Vikings can't drop any lower than their current No. 3 seed, but they do have an outside shot at the second seed if they win during the early portion of Sunday's slate and the Niners lose later that afternoon. If Chicago loses this game, they'll ensure themselves no worse than the second pick in the 2023 draft. A Bears loss coupled with a Texans win would see the top pick go to the Windy City.
Chicago announced earlier this week that they're shutting QB Justin Fields down for the rest of the season, due to a hip injury. Taking over under center will be Nathan Peterman, who's thrown 11 NFL passes in the last 50 months (three of which were picked off). In his career, Peterman is 1-3 as a starter and has completed just 52.5% of his attempts, throwing three touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Minnesota is the fifth-most popular survivor play this week, at 10.29%.
TRAPS TO AVOID
Jacksonville Jaguars (-6) vs. Tennessee Titans
Tennessee gets several key starters back this week, including RB Derrick Henry and defensive linemen Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry. The Titans have three days' extra rest on the Jags and head coach Mike Vrabel is second to none when it comes to gameplanning and getting his guys ready to play.
Jacksonville is the most popular pick this week, with 22.67% of entries locking them in.
Green Bay Packers (-4.5) vs. Detroit Lions
Detroit will get knocked out of the playoffs if Seattle beats the Rams earlier in the day, but don't expect Dan Campbell's Lions to lie down if that happens. A kneecap-biting culture has been established in the Motor City and they'll do everything they can to grind out a win on Sunday night to sweep the season series. D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams versus a leaky Packers run defense that's 32nd in rushing EPA is a nice matchup for Detroit. If Jared Goff turns in a decent showing, the Lions escape Lambeau with a victory.
At 5.86% of entries, Green Bay is the eighth-most popular play in Week 18.
Los Angeles Chargers (+2.5) at Denver Broncos
This number will likely change, but the Chargers are currently the third-most popular survivor pick this week, at 14.52%. If the Bengals beat the visiting Ravens during Sunday's early slate, Los Angeles clinches the AFC's No. 5 seed and has nothing to play for. Denver has zero incentive to tank, as they don't own their first-round pick. Locking the Chargers in without knowing whether they'll play their starters is a risk you can't afford in the final week of survivor pools.
Stats provided by Pro Football Reference, teamrankings.com, Football Outsiders, and rbsdm.com (garbage time removed).