NFL Week 18 Best Bets and Analysis: 2023 Public Betting Trend Recap

NFL Week 18 Best Bets and Analysis: 2023 Public Betting Trend Recap

Happy Week 18! If you think it’s a happy day. I can’t believe we’ve already made it to the end of the year. Playoffs are ramping up and we’ve got an exciting final slate ahead of us.

NFL Week 18 is already here, and we are here to bring you the best betting trends, information, and predictions to prepare you for the slate. Here you will find the best ways to bet on premier matchups like the New York Jets vs the New England Patriots or the possible game-of-the-year matchup to decide the AFC East between the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills.

I am 0-1 to start off Week 18 thanks to a stupid ending to the Colts game (missed kicks), but I’m looking for a nice week after a few mediocre ones (3-3 last Sunday). At this point, the trends have told us enough and it’s not too much new information. But, I’ll focus a little bit on last year’s Week 18 and what that means for us in 2023 in this post. 

Through the first Seventeen weeks, the public has amassed a record of 138-110 ATS (a 56% win percentage). Who would have told you at the beginning of the year that backing the public was the best way to bet in 2023 with any public betting trend? The public has a chance to finish better than both the money and sharp differential this year, with it already significantly beating out the sharp differential. 

The lack of star power at quarterback is a major reason, in my opinion, as to why the public is covering at a remarkable rate. When teams cannot even put up a fight, it makes it more difficult to cover. Often the teams that need to put up fights are the underdogs. Additionally, the public tends to back favorites this year as well. Put those two points together and week after week the public continues to perform well

It becomes an interesting point in my opinion because it leads us to start looking at the public betting data through a lens that involves actual gameplay. The public is seemingly seeing things well because they are hitting more bets than not. Traditionally this wouldn’t be the case, so something on the field must be triggering that display. 

As for the other metrics we track here, the money percentage and sharp differential are kicking it up a notch, which is exactly what we thought would happen to close out the year. We have so much data on these teams now, so you would expect people with more money (and sharp bettors) to perform better after having a rough start to the year, but that wasn’t really the case.

If you are new here, welcome to Happy Hour Sports, my name is DJ and I track how the public and money do each week in the NFL. We want to take the phrase “fade the public” further because everyone talks about the betting public and money data, but when those numbers are brought up, there is no context around them. People assume high tickets on one side is bad, and high money on the other side is good. However, we are here to prove those claims right or wrong, every single week.

Our goal with Sharpen the Public and the weekly articles on this website is to provide context to the numbers and develop discourse regarding the data. If you are ever curious as to when the public does good, or what sharp differentials are strong indicators that a bet is the sharp side, then you have come to the right place. Follow the podcast and listen to us break everything down each week! 

With that out of the way, it’s time to get into this week’s best bets and analysis. Here you will find the bets that I place every week and some discussion on why I am taking most of them. We’re not trying to be those Twitter handicappers that scream max play at you, we want you to trust us. Don’t forget you can always find my recaps of the weeks here as well – detailing where things went wrong and how I did. Last week was not the worst, but a step in the right direction as I went 3-3, again on Sunday.

Deej Record from Week 17: 

  • Bets: 3-3
  • Leans: None given

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Week 18 NFL Betting Trends

Since we are already through week 17, that means we have official data to report regarding the public betting trends to influence our Week 18 bets. Check out the full recap article and many other NFL pieces at our NFL BETTING PICKS. Additionally, the recent podcasts always break down the updates to the trends. If you missed that, here they are:

  • Public Betting Percentage: 138-110 ATS (56%)
  • Money Betting Percentage: 135-113 ATS (54%)
  • Sharp Differential: 126-122 ATS (51%)
  • Public on Over: 69-76 (48%)
  • Money on Over: 47-50 (48%)
  • Sharp Diff. on Over: 31-26 (54%)
  • Public on Under: 57-46 (55%)
  • Money on Under: 83-70 (54%)
  • Sharp Diff on Under: 107-85 (56%)

Now, we are the only people who provide deep recaps on these numbers like this every week; but, we are also the only sports betting brand that will dive deeper into these numbers and tell you important ranges that trends emerge from the already crazy trends you see above. 

As opposed to my normal breakdown of all the trends, I am taking a different route today. I am going to list the major trends that are apparent through Week 17 (with some context), and then focus on individual team trends – since nearly every team plays today. This is also something we will heavily focus on when the playoffs come.

I’ve made it a point over the entire year how well the public has performed in 2023. However, what may be even more interesting is how well they have done when there are more than 60% of the tickets on a side. The public is 79-55 (59%) when the teams are what I call an actually public side. Below 60%, games feel like either team could be the public side (depending on the number), but actual public teams have killed it this year. Specifically between 60%-70%, those teams are 55-34. This means that above 70%, teams are 24-21, which is still far better than anyone would have predicted to start the year. This is one of the reasons I love bringing this information to everyone. Here are the actual public sides today (bolded are between 60%-70%):

  • Patriots -2, Titans +3.5, Cowboys -13.5, Chiefs +3, Rams +4, Bears +2.5, Cardinals +3, Giants +4.5, Bills -2.5

I also want to make note of how well the public did to end the season last year in Week 18. Despite having a much more mediocre year, they went 11-5. Seemingly when it may be confusing on which side to ride with given the playoff implications, the public knows what they are doing.

Switching to totals:

  • Public on Over (Last 6 Weeks): 33-23 (59%)
  • Money on Over (Last 6 Weeks): 24-13 (65%)
  • Sharp Diff. on Over (Last 6 Weeks): 16-8 (67%)

A point I made during the midpoint of the season was that all of our metrics (public, money, and sharp diff.) would likely bounce back to finish out the year as we saw overs come back into the fold. Additionally, this was something we saw last year, so we could use that to our advantage in 2023. I did not think it would be as dominant as you see above. People are reading totals well, and if you like an over in Week 18, be excited to have the public, money, or sharp differential backing. Here are the games today with the public on the over (any with sharp diff. to the over are bolded):

  • Buccaneers/Panthers (37), Vikings/Lions (47), Jaguars/Titans (42.5), Falcons/Saints (42), Chiefs/Chargers (35.5), Bears/Packers (45), Seahawks/Cardinals (47.5), Eagles/Giants (42.5)

Now we know the money is meant to be one of the metrics that performs well all season. To start the year, any team that had greater than 50% of the money percentage had covered about 50% of the time. Over the last 6 weeks, the money percentage has picked up pace and went 54-36, covering at a 60% rate to bring their season-long record to 135-113, and closer to what it was to end last year. Oddly enough, the money seems to be best when it is either really pointing to one side, or right between teams because when the money on teams has been between 60%-70%, those sides are 37-40 ATS. Whereas all other percentages are 98-73 ATS. Here are the teams with the money today (bolded will be a part of the better trends):

  • Bengals -7.5, Panthers +4, Patriots -2.5, Vikings +4, Titans +3.5, Cowboys -13.5, Chargers -3, Broncos +3, Rams +4, Bears +2.5, Cardinals +3, Bills -2.5
  • Money Percentage went 10-6 ATS in 2022 Week 18

The last thing I want to cover is a few team trends that stand out to me and are looking like they will happen today. Each of these trends is how the public betting metrics (public, money, and sharp diff.) have fared on certain teams in 2023:

  • The public on the Lions are 8-2 ATS. Lions currently have 48% of the bets. Vikings are 5-1 ATS with the public – these teams play each other.
  • Public on the Patriots is 2-4 ATS, Money on the Patriots is 3-8 ATS, and Sharp Diff. on the Patriots is 4-7 ATS. Patriots currently hold all 3 metrics.
  • The Panthers are 5-2 ATS being a side with greater than 50% of the money. They currently sit with 80% of the money. Tampa Bay is undefeated this year (4-0 ATS) when the public backs them. These teams play each other.
  • The Falcons and Saints are split 50/50 by the public right now, but the Saints are 1-4 ATS when backed by the public, and the Falcons are 2-1 ATS.
  • The Titans are 2-5 ATS this year as the public side, they currently hold 72% of the tickets.

I may add some more by the time my plays come out.

Week 18 NFL Best Bets and Analysis

Atlanta Falcons vs New Orleans Saints (-3), Total 41

Desmond Ridder was just named the starter for this one, and the tickets on the Saints have already jumped from 50% to 55% on the Saints. New Orleans is coming off one of its biggest wins of the season, especially from an emotional standpoint, which makes them a bit overvalued in this spot.  The swap from Heinicke to Ridder does not change much for me, as they both are not great the Falcons have had to get by using the ground game all season. Look back to when they played in Atlanta and the Falcons had 228 rushing yards against a Saints defense that can be run on. The Saints did manage to put up over 400 yards of offense, but they settled for field goals – six times. Atlanta will need to muster up the same red zone defense they played within the first matchup but with Derek Carr’s terrible record as a favorite, I see them succeeding in that sense. Additionally, the public (when backing the Saints) is a whopping 1-4 ATS this season. Despite the public performing well in Week 18, I don’t think we have to worry about the Saints being a public side in this one. I also like the under, but am going to stay with just the side.

The Plays:  Falcons +3 -105 (1u)

Minnesota Vikings vs Detroit Lions (-3.5), Total 46

These two teams played 2 weeks ago and the Vikings managed to come out on top, despite all of their injuries. Now, Dan Campbell and company can play for the 2 seed on their home turf in Detroit as favorites of just over a field goal. There are a lot of sharp reasons to back the Vikings on the road in this one, but I am eyeing the total. This total opened up north of 50 and shot down instantly, although it is slowly creeping its way back up. As I described earlier, the public and money (which both favor the over in this one) have been performing very well to end the season. Both metrics have surpassed a 59% win percentage over the last 6 weeks. Game script-wise, the Lions’ defense has been pretty lack luster outside of Aiden Hutchinson all season with only one player rated in the top 35 for their position on defense. While the stars are certainly not so bright on the Vikings’ offensive side of things, there should be opportunities to exploit a weak defense that they have seen once already. I don’t see a world where the Lions are kept out of the endzone, so for Minnesota to keep their playoff hopes alive they are going to need to score. Justin Jefferson is still hungry for some production and despite it not being talked about, the Vikings are the 8th best passing team over the last 4 weeks, surpassing 1,000 yards, cumulatively. The Lions on the other hand rank 31st in passing defense during the same span. Let’s finish with some points in the NFC North.

The Plays:  Over 46 -110

Kansas City Chiefs vs Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5), Total 35.5

Can anyone believe that Easton Stick is actually a favorite against the Kansas City Chiefs? Anyone who is writing about this game has likely said those exact same words, but it is interesting nonetheless. With a total so low, this feels like a game I shouldn’t be touching. However, I am being drawn towards betting the Chiefs in this one. First things first, the public does well in Week 18. Unlike last year when the public backed the Chiefs, Kansas City has been fairly mediocre against the spread, so there are no reasons to say “Oh the public is betting the Chiefs, time to fade.” That narrative is over. I don’t expect there to be much scoring in this one as Easton Stick and this Chargers offense have been abysmal over their last 4 games while losing every single one. While on the other side of the ball, the Chiefs’ backups will be going against a Chargers’ defense that has not been able to stop anyone all season. There are incentives for these backups to play for time in the playoffs, and I don’t see a world where this Chargers defense can continuously stop them. I am unsure how many times either team will score (which is why I am not on the total), but I love playing the Chiefs as a dog here in the division. Andy Reid is still a better coach than anyone the Chargers can bring to the game.

The Plays:  Chiefs +3.5 -110

Buffalo Bills vs Miami Dolphins (+3), Total 48.5

Ahh a beautiful Sunday Night football matchup, as the Gods intended. I wish we were getting a fully healthy Miami team here, but nonetheless this should take the cake for the best game of the day. Both teams have a shot at the division in this one, as the Bills look to fully have turned their season around, or the Dolphins can shock the world and grab the 2 seed. This total has crept down from 50 to where it sits now between 47.5 and 48 all week. The weather might be a slight issue as winds look to be upwards of 10 miles per hour, but the reason I like the total is because of the recent playstyles of either side. The Bills, since their switch at offensive coordinator, have played like an entirely different offense from what they were at the beginning of the year. They play at a much slower pace, running the ball more and limiting the Josh Allen turnovers. Since Week 5, every game the Bills have played (except one against the Eagles) with a total set at 45 or higher has gone under its total; a 5-1 mark to the under. The Dolphins do have the most prolific offense in football, but they are nursing too many injuries in this one to take advantage of their speed. Mostert is injured, Hill is injured, Waddle is injured, and even some of their offensive line. I think the Bills lean into their recent success and run the ball to control the clock and limit the Dolphins possessions, which leads to a low scoring game. This also falls back into the primetime unders that were killing it in the beginning of the season. Let’s end the regular season with a bang.

The Plays:  Under 48.5 -110 (2u)

​​

Plays without a writeup:

  • Ravens +9.5/Jets+8.5 Teaser (Podcast)
  • Eagles -4.5 (Podcast)
  • Bears +3 -110

Thanks for reading! If you guys like what you see or have any comments/critiques, please let me know on Twitter, I appreciate all feedback. Please also follow the podcast and share the website! I will see you on Tuesday with another recap episode of Sharpen the Public.

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This is an article written by DJ Bianco

DJ Bianco Author for Happy Hour Sports at the Colosseum in Rome

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