May 3, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin oversees drills during Steelers rookie mincamp and orientation at the UPMC Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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NFL Week 18 schedule: 5 best bets on underdogs

As we get ready for the NFL Week 18 schedule this weekend, these five underdogs are smart plays to cover their spreads.

5. Las Vegas Raiders (+3) vs. Los Angeles Chargers

The Raiders are trying to make the playoffs for only the second time since 2002. To do it, they’ll need to win their fourth straight game and do so against the Chargers, who handled them back in Week 4 on Monday Night Football. If Las Vegas is going to handle Los Angeles, it’ll likely be with a strong ground attack led by Josh Jacobs. While the Chargers are the better team, they’re a very inconsistent one and on the road in a hostile environment. Take the points.


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4. Detroit Lions (+3.5) vs. Green Bay Packers

The Packers would normally beat the Lions by 30 points in a normal situation, but this is anything but. Green Bay has already wrapped up the NFC’s top seed and should be resting most of if not all of its significant players, making this a much easier game for a Lions team looking to win its third game of the campaign. Detroit is going to fight hard under first-year head coach Dan Campbell, and that could be enough against Packers quarterback Jordan Love, who is making his second career start.

3. Atlanta Falcons (+3.5) vs. New Orleans Saints

This is a huge rivalry in the NFL Week 18 schedule. The Falcons are also at home, and they have a much better quarterback in Matt Ryan. Atlanta isn’t a particularly good team on either side of the ball, but it’s talented enough to cause problems for a New Orleans squad that hasn’t been able to score much over the last month. Yes, the Saints have the postseason on the line, but this won’t be an easy one.


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2. Miami Dolphins (+6.5) vs. New England Patriots

The Dolphins already have been eliminated from playoff contention after losing 34-3 last week to the Tennessee Titans, but they’ll play hard against their AFC East rivals. Plus, Miami always gives the Patriots fits, having beaten them in Week 1 up in Foxboro. For both sides, there’s importance. Miami is aiming for a second straight winning season, while the Patriots are hoping for the best seed they can get in the AFC playoffs.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (+3.5) at Baltimore Ravens

This is one of the most heated rivalries in all of sports, but the Ravens are without quarterback Lamar Jackson for the fourth consecutive week. Baltimore has been a mess since starting the season 7-2, sitting now at 8-8. The Steelers have all kinds of problems both offensively and defensively, but they should handle business on the road to keep postseason dreams alive.

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