Sunday night, the epic, overtime thriller between the Chargers and Raiders did not conclude in a poetic tie. And when there were no ticks left on the clock in the extra period, the NFL playoff field was set following the first-ever Week 18.
We’ll get to the theatrics of the final week of the NFL regular season and what matchups the postseason holds, but we begin in Indianapolis, where two familiar teams—Georgia and Alabama—clash in the national championship game.
8 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Bulldogs had a chance to keep the Crimson Tide out of the College Football Playoff when the two teams met in the SEC Championship Game five weeks ago. But Nick Saban and ‘Bama are inevitable. They proved as much in beating Georgia 41-24 to win the conference and march back to the playoff. UGA has dropped its last seven games against Alabama, dating back to 2008.
Still, the oddsmakers like Georgia to buck that trend and end its national championship drought. The Bulldogs are 2.5-point favorites thanks to a defense that allows fewer than 10 points per game paired with a top-10 scoring offense.
Alabama and Georgia both made light work of their opponents in the semifinal games to set up this rematch of the 2018 National Championship Game. UGA has never had an issue hanging around—it’s finishing games that has given Kirby Smart trouble against Saban’s crew of Heismans and All-Americans.
CFP Title Game Betting Preview: Alabama is a rare underdog against Georgia, but beware of Saban’s daunting 24-1 record against former assistants. Before betting on this game, Richard Johnson reviews the trends and numbers and makes his picks.
Bama-UGA Picks: The SI Betting team locks in their selections ahead of Monday night kickoff. Our writers are largely siding with the public money and taking Alabama moneyline or with the points.
National Championship Game Predictions: College football writers Ross Dellenger, Pat Forde, John Garcia and Johnson offer up their pick to win the championship, predict the final score and guess who the MVP will be.
Back to that near-tie… The NFL community was begging all week for the improbable to happen: the regular season’s finale between the Chargers and Raiders to end in a deadlock.
It nearly happened.
In the end, Daniel Carlson connected on a walk-off, 47-yard field goal in overtime to put Las Vegas in the playoffs and send Los Angeles home. Not to take anything away from Carlson, but somehow, that kick was almost anticlimactic after the series of events that unfolded Sunday and opened the door for a tie that would have put both teams in the postseason.
The playoff field is now set, and the Raiders have a quick turnaround Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati.
NFL Postseason Spreads and Futures: The lines for Wild Card Weekend are already out, as are futures bets for conference and Super Bowl winners. The Packers, at +350, are the favorites to win the Super Bowl and the Chiefs (+400) aren’t far behind.
Jaguars Pick No. 1 Once Again: Despite its 26-11 win against the Colts, Jacksonville finished with the worst record in the NFL and will get the top pick in April’s NFL draft for the second year in a row.
NFL Records Broken in Week 18: A historically long season led to a few records being broken in the final regular-season week. See what updates are being made to the NFL history book.
Derek Carr Speaks on Chargers’ Timeout Call: Did Chargers coach Brandon Staley calling a surprise timeout in overtime affect the Raiders’ strategy? “It definitely did, obviously,” Carr said after the win.
Thanks for reading Winners Club, and remember, I’ll be coming to your inbox Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from now on.
I’ll talk to you again on Wednesday. Enjoy the game tonight.