NFL Week 18 Tips: Hopkins ready to ‘Nuk’ Jaguars secondary in regular season finale

By Tom Collins

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5 January 2024

And just like that the NFL regular season is about to come to a close. Sunday will mark the final full slate of meaningful games until September, but a lot hinges on these results with playoff seedings and NFL draft picks on the line.

Of course that means that there are plenty of dead rubber match-ups to go with the high-importance fixtures, but even in some of those games you can find a nice angle or two. Below are three selections to try to end the season on a punting high.

Jacksonville Jaguars (-3.5) @ Tennessee Titans (+3.5)

Kick-off: 6pm Sunday GMT

The Jacksonville Jaguars will win the AFC South if they beat the Tennessee Titans this weekend, so there is no surprise to see their coaching staff doing everything they can to get franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence back in the line-up as he nurses a shoulder injury. If he plays, there is a high chance that Jacksonville gets the win they require. 

I’m more interested in a secondary market for this game, though. With the final game of the season comes the last attempt for players to earn their contractual bonuses. There is no bigger incentive than money in any walk of life. 

As a result, I want to back DeAndre Hopkins to score a touchdown anytime. He needs seven catches for a $250,000 bonus, which means the ball is sure to come his way a lot, and that will hopefully bring with it plenty of scoring opportunities.

Prediction: DeAndre Hopkins anytime touchdown @ 11/8 

Houston Texans (-1.5) @ Indianapolis Colts (+1.5)

Kick-off: 6pm Sunday GMT

Both the Texans and Colts need the Jaguars to slip up in order to win the division. That being said, a victory for either franchise here will see them secure a wildcard spot in the playoffs, so the post-season is in their own hands.

However, it’s another incentive that entices me here. Dalton Schultz, who plays tight end for the Texans, needs four catches for a pretty hefty paycheck. He’s only achieved that in 50% of his games this season as he’s seldom used outside of the redzone.

The Colts have been notoriously bad against tight ends inside their own 20-yard line this term and Schultz has five redzone touchdowns, so perhaps his targets will come when the Texans have an opportunity to score. His price is too tasty to ignore if that’s the case.

Prediction: Dalton Schultz anytime touchdown @ 21/10

Chicago Bears (+3.5) @ Green Bay Packers (-3.5)

Kick-off: 9.25pm Sunday GMT

Another game with a lot on the line, especially for the Green Bay Packers as they can secure a playoff berth with a victory over their biggest rivals in the league. The Cheeseheads have dominated this match-up since 2008 with 26 victories and just four losses, although most of those games came with the phenomenal Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.

The Bears’ playoff hopes were squashed a few weeks ago, but they have been revitalised since Justin Fields returned from injury and the young quarterback is arguably playing for his future as he’s yet to sign a new deal. He will be trying to ruin the party, that’s for sure.

I’m a Packers fan and I’m very much hoping that Jordan Love leads us to another win, but I can envisage a bit of a hectic game with a bunch of in-form playmakers on both sides. Over 44 points seems pretty likely. Go Pack Go.

Prediction: Over 44 total points @ 10/11

NFL Week 18 Tips

Jaguars @ Titans: DeAndre Hopkins anytime touchdown @ 11/8
Texans @ Colts: Dalton Schultz anytime touchdown @ 21/10
Bears @ Packers: Over 44 total points @ 10/11

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