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NFL Week 18 picks: Rams beat 49ers to clinch NFC West; Raiders defeat Chargers

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford in action.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford in action during the first half against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in Baltimore.
(Nick Wass / Associated Press)
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The Times’ NFL writer, Sam Farmer, examines this week’s matchups. Lines according to FanDuel (O/U = over/under). Last week’s record 11-5 (.687); season 164-91-1 (.643). Using point spreads with the scores Farmer predicted, the record against the spread last week would have been 7-9 (.438); season 125-129-2 (.492). Times Pacific.

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Chiefs (11-5) at Broncos (7-9)

Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams rushes.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams rushes during the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday in Cincinnati.
(David Dermer / Associated Press)

Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

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TV: ESPN.

Line: Chiefs by 101/2. O/U: 441/2.

The Chiefs have a slim chance at the No. 1 seed, but enough for incentive. The Broncos quarterback play isn’t up to a winning standard, and that Kansas City defense is going to want to bounce back.

Prediction: Chiefs 31, Broncos 17

3

Cowboys (11-5) at Eagles (9-7)

Dallas Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson defends against the Arizona Cardinals.
Dallas Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson defends against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half on Sunday in Arlington, Texas.
(Ron Jenkins / Associated Press)

Saturday, 5:15 p.m.

TV: ESPN.

Line: Cowboys by 7. O/U: 43.

Both are in the playoffs, and from the look of things the Eagles are going to rest their starters. The Cowboys could really use a strong offensive performance for momentum.

Prediction: Cowboys 28, Eagles 13

4

Steelers (8-7-1) at Ravens (8-8)

Baltimore Ravens running back Latavius Murray in action.
Baltimore Ravens running back Latavius Murray in action during the second half against the Rams on Sunday in Baltimore.
(Nick Wass / Associated Press)

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Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 2. DirecTV: 705.

Line: Ravens by 51/2. O/U: 411/2.

The Steelers offense leaves a lot to be desired, but Najee Harris is capable of big-time performances. These games are typically close, and because the Steelers won the first one, go with the home team.

Prediction: Ravens 23, Steelers 21

5

Titans (11-5) at Texans (4-12)

Tennessee Titans tight end Geoff Swaim plays against the Miami Dolphins.
Tennessee Titans tight end Geoff Swaim plays against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in Nashville.
(John Amis / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 706.

Line: Titans by 10. O/U: 43.

The Titans aren’t going to allow themselves to be swept by a feeble Houston team. Plus, Derrick Henry is coming back for Tennessee, although he might not be an immediate factor.

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Prediction: Titans 31, Texans 17

6

Colts (9-7) at Jaguars (2-14)

Indianapolis Colts cornerback Isaiah Rodgers runs up field after intercepting a pass.
Indianapolis Colts cornerback Isaiah Rodgers runs up field after intercepting a pass during the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday in Indianapolis.
(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 707.

Line: Colts by 151/2. O/U: 44.

The Colts have a playoff pulse, and Jacksonville has just two wins — but those came against Miami and Buffalo, so anything can happen in this weird league. Still, go with the better team.

Prediction: Colts 27, Jaguars 17

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Bengals (10-6) at Browns (7-9)

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins makes a touchdown catch past Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins makes a touchdown catch past Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden during the second half on Monday in Pittsburgh.
(Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

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TV: None. DirecTV: 708.

Line: Browns by 6. O/U: 38.

Baker Mayfield is out but that might not be a bad thing for the Browns, who should get solid play from Case Keenum. The Bengals will be minus QB Joe Burrow (rest) and RB Joe Mixon (COVID).

Prediction: Browns 24, Bengals 20

8

Packers (13-3) at Lions (2-13-1)

Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers looks to pass.
Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers looks to pass during the second half against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday in Green Bay, Wis.
(Aaron Gash / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 11. DirecTV: 709.

Line: Packers by 31/2. O/U: 441/2.

No matter who plays, the Packers get the edge. But the Lions should be able to run on them. Between D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit could make it close. Team doesn’t quit.

Prediction: Packers 24, Lions 20

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Bears (6-10) at Vikings (7-9)

Minnesota Vikings' Alexander Mattison tries to run past Green Bay Packers' De'Vondre Campbell.
Minnesota Vikings’ Alexander Mattison tries to run past Green Bay Packers’ De’Vondre Campbell during the second half on Sunday in Green Bay, Wis.
(Matt Ludtke / Associated Press)

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Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 710.

Line: Vikings by 31/2. O/U: 441/2.

Kirk Cousins coming back makes a huge difference for the Vikings. Both teams are out of playoff picture, but Minnesota is playing for pride — and to make coach Mike Zimmer look good. Should be close.

Prediction: Vikings 27, Bears 23

10

Washington Football Team (6-10) at Giants (4-12)

Washington Football Team cornerback Kendall Fuller runs.
Washington Football Team cornerback Kendall Fuller runs against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in Landover, M.D.
(Daniel Kucin Jr. / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 711.

Line: Washington by 7. O/U: 38.

Washington isn’t very good, but the Giants are terrible. Jake Fromm is starting at quarterback for the Giants, and he’ll have a hard time moving the ball. Washington is still playing hard.

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Prediction: Washington 28, Giants 16

11

Jets (4-12) at Bills (10-6)

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen looks to pass.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen looks to pass during the second half against the Atlanta Falcons in Orchard Park, N.Y. on Sunday.
(Adrian Kraus / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 712.

Line: Bills by 161/2. O/U: 411/2.

The Bills should win this going away, considering the incentives in front of them. But the Jets aren’t giving up, even though they’re out of the postseason picture. Weather could keep score down.

Prediction: Bills 28, Jets 20

12

Patriots (10-6) at Dolphins (8-8)

New England Patriots' Jakobi Meyers during a game against the Buffalo Bills.
New England Patriots’ Jakobi Meyers during a game against the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 26, 2021 in Foxborough, Mass.
(Winslow Townson / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

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TV: None. DirecTV: 713.

Line: Patriots by 61/2. O/U: 40.

As amazing as Miami’s seven-game winning streak was, the Dolphins fell back to earth with a brutal loss to Tennessee. In the opener, Miami eked past the Patriots, who should exact revenge.

Prediction: Patriots 28, Dolphins 23

13

Panthers (5-11) at Buccaneers (12-4)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady during the second half.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady during the second half against the New York Jets on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.
(John Munson / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: Channel 2. DirecTV: 714.

Line: Buccaneers by 8. O/U: 411/2.

The Buccaneers continue to roll and find new guys to step up. Tampa Bay will have its entire starting secondary for the first time since Week 1. Committee of Tampa running backs sets the pace.

Prediction: Buccaneers 35, Panthers 16

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Saints (8-8) at Falcons (7-9)

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Deonte Harris carries.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Deonte Harris carries in the first half against the Carolina Panthers in New Orleans on Sunday.
(Butch Dill / Associated Press)

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Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 715.

Line: Saints by 41/2. O/U: 401/2.

The Saints don’t have much on offense, but their front seven is tough. Hard to run on them, and when their corners are healthy, that defense can clamp down. That’s the difference.

Prediction: Saints 23, Falcons 20

15

Seahawks (6-10) at Cardinals (11-5)

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker defends.
Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker defends against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday.
(Michael Ainsworth / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 716.

Line: Cardinals by 61/2. O/U: 48.

The Cardinals play Seattle tough, typically, and have the incentive of an NFC West title if the Rams stumble against the 49ers. Seattle might be able to run a bit, but its defense is porous.

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Prediction: Cardinals 28, Seahawks 20

16

49ers (9-7) at Rams (12-4)

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance during a game.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance during a game against the Houston Texans in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday.
(John Hefti / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: Channel 11. DirecTV: 717.

Line: Rams by 4. O/U: 441/2.

The Rams have lost five in a row to San Francisco. Both teams are incentivized. Rams can take advantage of vulnerable 49ers corners and win their sixth straight to clinch the NFC West.

Prediction: Rams 27, 49ers 24

17

Chargers (9-7) at Raiders (9-7)

Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Tyron Johnson runs up field.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Tyron Johnson runs up field during the first half against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in Indianapolis.
(AJ Mast / Associated Press)

Sunday, 5:20 p.m.

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TV: Channel 4.

Line: Chargers by 3. O/U: 491/2.

Winner gets into the playoffs. When that Raiders front four is rushing the passer the way it can, it’s hitting home. Derek Carr has been making plays. Feels as if the Raiders can split this season series.

Prediction: Raiders 27, Chargers 24

Where do NFL fans gather to watch games in Southern California? From Packers to Bears and 49ers to Rams, use our guide to find your game-day spot.

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