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NFL Week 18 Betting Recap: Bad Beats and Big Payouts

Reviewing the good, bad and ugly from Week 18 betting, including the Colts' epic flop against the Jaguars.

To tie or not to tie, that is the question.

Whether you publicly admitted it or not—and you can admit it here since we're all friends—we were all intrigued Sunday night by the possibility of this NFL season concluding with a Raiders-Chargers tie that put both teams in the playoffs.

Not only did it provide for great water cooler talk, but it allowed us all to live-coach the game from our couches as a tie became a distinct possibility in the final two minutes of overtime. Alas, we did not get anarchy as the Chargers' porous run defense reared its' ugly head and helped the Raiders prevail on a walk-off field goal.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) is sacked by Jacksonville Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen (41) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla.

Let's remember, though, why the tie scenario even came into play: The Colts' epic meltdown in Jacksonville as Sunday's second-biggest favorite. If you bet a moneyline parlay Sunday, the Colts at -14 seemed like a pretty easy inclusion. They just needed to win against a tanking team whose fans were wearing clown makeup to the game.

And they lost by 15! The Colts provided one of the biggest chokes in NFL history considering the stakes -- win and make the playoffs -- and the opponent.

Indianapolis headlines the ugly section of our Week 18 betting recap, but there was also plenty of good and, unfortunately, some bad. Let's break it all down!

Check the Super Wild Card Odds at SI Sportsbook

THE GOOD

J-A-G-U-A-R-S!!!

Don't worry, we have plenty to come on the Colts.

But here's an amazing note:

Sunday's win marked the second time this year the Jaguars won outright as an underdog of least 14 points. They also beat the Bills at home, 9-6, as a 14.5-point dog.

The Jaguars were +700 on the moneyline Sunday.

If you had the guts to bet the Jags to win both this game and the Bills on the moneyline, you probably covered yourself for plenty of other losses.

(Makes note to self for next year's lines...)

Had It the Whole Way

Those who backed the Bills at -15.5—the biggest spread of the day—had to be scared with how Buffalo played against the Jets, but they walked away with a bigger bankroll.

The Bills drove the ball to the Jets' 1-yard line with less than four minutes to go and faced a third-and-goal at the 5-yard line while nursing a 10-point lead.

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Josh Allen found Devin Singletary for a touchdown that provided the final score: 27-10. The Bills made you sweat, but sometimes that makes it all the more rewarding while you're being powerbombed through a table in the parking lot.

Touchdown Fun

One of our favorite parts of this column is listing the great touchdown payouts, especially when they come from obscure players. Here are the Week 18 heroes:

• 49ers WR Jauan Jennings last touchdown: +3300 (+570 anytime)
• Buccaneers WR Scotty Miller last touchdown: +3000 (+725 anytime)
• Bears RB Damien Williams first touchdown: +3000 (+590 anytime)
• Texans WR Danny Amendola last touchdown: +2800 (+520 anytime)
• Titans TE Anthony Firkser first touchdown: +2000 (+350 anytime)
• Saints TE Adam Trautman first touchdown: +2000 (+400 anytime)
• Jaguars WR Laquon Treadwell first touchdown: +1850 (+360 anytime)
• Bengals RB Chris Evans last touchdown: +1450 (+320 anytime)
• Packers WR Allen Lazard first touchdown: +1450
• Rams TE Tyler Higbee first touchdown: +1250
• Saints TE Juwan Johnson anytime touchdown: +725
• Vikings WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette anytime touchdown: +590

Easy Unders

Three games seemed like easy under targets Sunday: Steelers-Ravens, Bengals-Browns and Giants-Washington.

Pittsburgh-Baltimore is usually a hard-nosed, defensive game, and the Bengals and Browns both had little to play for and started backup quarterbacks. Meanwhile, the Giants ended their season with this type of inspiring "offense."

The Ravens and Steelers needed overtime to combine for 29 points and fell well short of their projected total of 41. The Giants and Washington combined for 29 points despite featuring the day's lowest over/under of 36. The Browns and and Bengals finished with 37 points—barely keeping it below the 37.5 projected total.

He Found the End Zone!

Julio Jones was once one of the NFL's premier receivers, but he somehow entered Sunday having not scored since Nov. 8, 2020. He went all of 2021 without a touchdown!

Jones entered Sunday's game against the Texans with +230 odds to score and +300 odds that he would tally more than 0.5 touchdowns. We don't blame you if you decided to instead take an anytime touchdown prop on A.J. Brown.

Well, miracles DO happen. Jones scored for the first time in 14 months to reward those who backed him with a decent payout.

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Julio Jones (2) celebrates his touchdown with teammates during the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Houston.

The Texans-Titans Shootout

If you invested in the Titans' and Texans' passing games and faded their running games, you profited while enjoying a better-than-expected game.

D'Onta Foreman, Rex Burkhead and Ryan Tannehill all failed to clear their rushing props at SI Sportsbook. However, Tannehill and Davis Mills had strong days throwing the football.

Tannehill cleared his passing yards, passing touchdowns and combined yards props, while Mills cleared his passing yards, passing touchdowns and completions props. Neither quarterback tossed an interception, if you like betting that prop.

Garbage Time Money

The Falcons and Saints cleared their over/under of 40 and also rewarded in the last minute those who bet over 4.5 touchdowns. The Falcons scored the game's fifth touchdown with just 27 seconds left to make it a 30-20 game. It's more fun when both of the overs hit, compared to just one of the scoring props cashing.

I-N-T EQUALS P-A-Y

If you enjoy betting defenders, SI Sportsbook offered an intriguing prop at +570 odds that Jalen Ramsey would tally an interception against the 49ers.

Ramsey delivered by making one of the best interceptions of the season. Now that's how you pay off a bet in style!

Just Made It

Brown, Cooper Kupp and Kirk Cousins all just cleared their prop projections to reward their backers.

Brown, who also cashed his anytime touchdown prop at +115 odds, finished with 68 receiving yards against the Texans, just above his projected total of 66.5.

Cousins rebounded from a slow start to finish with 250 yards, a nick above his projection of 248.5 yards.

Kupp ended his season by delivering for his bettors like he did all year with his seven grabs for 118 yards and a touchdown. He cleared his prop of 116.5—yes, 116.5—yards. Kupp, like Brown, also cashed his anytime touchdown prop at -138 odds.

The race for Offensive Player of the Year will be fascinating to watch, and Kupp perhaps sealed the award with his performance Sunday.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates in the end zone after catching a 45-yard touchdown pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Minneapolis.

THE BAD

Play Some Defense!

The Vikings came to life against the Bears in the fourth quarter of Mike Zimmer's final game as head coach and it burned those who bet the under.

The game featured an over/under of 44.5 and the teams combined for just 27 points entering the fourth quarter.

You felt good at that points. Where were those 18 points coming from?

Sigh.

Cousins tossed two touchdowns and the Vikings' pick-six of Andy Dalton provided the game with its final score of 31-17 Vikings.

A brutal beat.

A similar situation unfolded in Tampa, where the Buccaneers and Panthers had also combined for just 27 points entering the fourth with an over/under of 42.5.

The teams then combined for four touchdowns in the quarter to easily clear the over. This loss is not as bad since the Buccaneers scored on the first play of the fourth quarter, which immediately made the over a viable possibility.

Not ideal for anyone who bet the under to see more points scored in the fourth quarter (28) than scored in the first 45 minutes.

Reception Issues

We'll conclude this column with another note from Rams-49ers, since each pass catcher listed at SI Sportsbook failed to clear their receptions prop. Two players fell just one catch short, making it all the more painful for bettors.

Kupp, despite his strong game, didn't clear 9.5 catches. George Kittle had five catches—for 10 yards!!!—and failed to clear 5.5 grabs. Odell Beckham Jr.'s disappearing act left him well short of his mark, and Deebo Samuel had just four catches with a prop of 4.5.

A Particular Bet

The Bengals-Browns game provided the closest cover/non-cover Sunday. Cleveland was favored by six points and the game featured an over/under of 37.5.

The final: 21-16, Browns.

We're putting this game in the ugly in case you bet the Browns to cover and for the over to hit or if you did a parlay with the under and the Browns covering.

Cleveland led, 21-10, with less than three minutes to go when it allowed a late touchdown to pull the Bengals within five pending the two-point attempt.

This touchdown obviously blew the Browns' cover, ruining those bets. But now it brought the over/under into play.

Cincinnati, as it should have, went for two but failed. The under barely survived at 37. If you bet the over and the Browns to cover, you would have preferred at least one bet to hit. The Browns allowing a score but then stopping the conversion ruined both. 

Ouch.

San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould (9) celebrates with fullback Kyle Juszczyk (44) after making a field goal in overtime of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey (5) and defensive back David Long (22) react.

THE UGLY

A Flop for the Ages

Let's start with our dissection of the Colts' flop with this telling number: Indianapolis had -1099 moneyline odds. They were a lock!

And Indianapolis, despite being favored by 14, lost by more than two (seven-point) touchdowns! It's one thing when a heavily favored team loses by a few points, like when the Bills lost to the Jaguars in Jacksonville earlier this year.

But this? A 26-11 loss to a team that just gave up 50 points to the Patriots? You don't see many epic failures of this proportion.

The Colts also burned those who backed their props.

Jonathan Taylor, who had been churning through opponents like Ivan Drago in his prime, apparently ran into his version of Rocky Balboa.

Taylor tallied just 77 rushing yards, his lowest output since Halloween. Yes, that spans two full months. He didn't come close to topping his rushing yards prop of 118.5 yards or his combined yards prop of 133.5 yards. He also got stuffed at the goal line, preventing him from cashing his anytime touchdown prop bet featuring -300 odds.

Carson Wentz also delivered a dud by failing to clear his passing yards, passing touchdowns and combined yards props, while also tossing an interception.

This is the type of loss that haunts teams—and bettors—for a long time.

Can't Get a Stop

The Rams-49ers game had an over/under of 46.5 and it seemed set to cash when the teams had combined for just 34 points with less than three minutes remaining. Those holding Rams -3.5 or Rams moneyline tickets surely felt good too.

Los Angeles scored to take a 24-17 lead and just needed to prevent Jimmy Garoppolo from going 88 yards with no timeouts in 1:27 to win the game and preserve the under.

Well, the Rams didn't cooperate.

An amazing play by Samuel galvanized the 49ers and they used only 1:01 to score and ultimately send this game to overtime for their eventual 27-24 victory.

A brutal beat for those on the under or any Rams ticket.

A Fitting End

Betting strictly the favorites backfired on bettors this year, with against the spread (ATS) favorites finishing with a 125-141-3 record, according to teamrankings.com.

The ATS favorites finished the year by going 5-9 on Sunday, with the season ending with the Chargers, favored by three, losing outright.

The moneyline favorites managed just a .500 day (7-7).

A fitting conclusion to the season for the favorites.

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