Wacky Week 18: Who's Motivated?

Jan 03, 2023
Wacky Week 18: Who's Motivated?

With so many injuries and teams resting players for the real NFL playoffs, Week 18 is not ideal for fantasy football, which is why most leagues hold their Championship Game in Week 17. But we realize some of you are still battling, and this is the most important week of the season for those who are.

At 4for4 we will continue through the Super Bowl with our weekly rankings and projections, and if you aren't playing this week or want more action, we encourage you to check out the DFS and Betting sections of the site, where there will be fresh content until the bitter end of the NFL season.

This weekend, some teams will be highly motivated to produce, while others are already playing golf in their minds. There are four teams competing on Saturday, with the remaining 26 teams playing Sunday afternoon at either 1:00 PM or 4:25 PM ET, plus one Sunday night game between the Lions and Packers.

What we already know (AFC): Two of the four division titles have been decided, with Buffalo and Kansas City coming out on top. Depending on the remaining outcomes, the Bengals or Ravens will win the AFC North, and the Jaguars and Titans will battle it out for the AFC South crown on Saturday night. The No. 1 seed and first-round bye are still to be determined (TBD), with the Wild Card spots going to the Chargers and Ravens and some combination of the Patriots, Jaguars, Dolphins, Steelers, or Titans.

What we already know (NFC): Three NFC divisions have been decided, with the 49ers, Vikings, and Tampa Bay all sitting as title winners. The Eagles are currently the No. 1 seed, but that honor could go to the 49ers or Dallas, depending on Week 18. The NFC East is still TBD, but it will be either the Eagles or Dallas, who both earned playoff berths regardless of the division winner. The Giants also have clinched a Wild Card spot with the Seahawks, Lions, and Packers all hoping to punch one ticket.

So, who’s motivated?

Highly Motivated

Jacksonville Jaguars (1/7 - 8:15 PM ET vs. Titans)

The Jags are the current four seed in the AFC and will be tops in their division with a victory over the Titans on Saturday night. They are one game ahead of Tennessee and hold the tiebreaker due to a win in Nashville in Week 14. If Jacksonville beats the Titans, they get a playoff berth, and if they lose, they can still earn a spot but need help from a Patriots loss in Week 18.

Jacksonville plays on Saturday night, so they will be fully armed for battle.

Philadelphia Eagles (1/8 - 4:25 PM ET vs. Giants)

Philly currently sits atop the NFC and has earned their playoff spot but can win the NFC East with a win on Sunday or a Cowboys loss. The No. 1 seed in the conference, along with the lone bye and home-field advantage that comes with it, is on the line for the Eagles in Week 18, and all they have to do is beat a Giants team with nothing to play for at home.

Kansas City Chiefs (1/7 4:30 PM ET @ Raiders)

Currently sitting in the No. 1 spot in the AFC, the Chiefs need to beat fellow AFC West Raiders and for the Bills to lose one of their next two games to clinch that top spot and enjoy the bye and home-field advantage that comes with the No. 1 seed. This is the first game of the Week 18 slate, so expect the Chiefs starting crew for most of the game unless it’s an early bloodbath.

We don’t know when/if the Bills' Week 17 game will be played, so for now, they are still highly motivated.

Buffalo Bills (1/8 - 1:00 PM vs. Patriots)

The Bills are currently the second seed as AFC East champs for the third consecutive season. They can jump over the Chiefs to grab that No. 1 spot with wins in their last two contests. They can also earn that top seed with a win against Cincy and a Chiefs loss on Saturday night, or a Week 18 victory over the Patriots, a KC loss to Raiders, and the Bengals falling to Baltimore.

With Week 17 still up in the air for Buffalo and the Bengals, this still falls in the highly motivated category, as well.

Cincinnati Bengals (1/8 - 1:00 PM ET vs. Ravens)

Details are still being worked out for the Bengals' final two contests, but they can win the AFC North title with a win over the Bills (if that game is played) or a victory in Week 18 against the Ravens. They can also earn the division title and the No. 1 seed in the AFC if they win out against both Buffalo and Baltimore and the Chiefs lose to Las Vegas on Saturday night.

Tennesee Titans (1/7 - 8:15 PM ET @ Jaguars)

Tennessee has one way to get into the postseason and it’s with a victory over the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Saturday night. With a win-or-go-home scenario on the table, expect Derrick Henry to be back on the field along with every possible weapon Tennesee has at their disposal. Josh Dobbs earned the starting gig as QB and will look to provide a spark to punch the Titan’s playoff ticket.

San Francisco 49ers (1/8 - 4:25 PM ET vs. Cardinals)

Thanks to an overtime win last week against the Raiders, San Francisco leapfrogs the Vikings and is playing for the No. 1 seed in the NFC and all the perks that come along with that spot. The 49ers just need to beat the Cardinals (who are already eliminated) and an Eagles loss to the Giants.

We should see the Niners starting squad for most of the game unless the score is out of hand since the Eagles play simultaneously.

Dallas Cowboys (1/8 - 4:25 PM ET @ Commanders)

The Cowboys can win the NFC East by beating Washington on Sunday, along with an Eagles loss to the Giants. Dallas also has a shot at the No. 1 seed in the NFC, along with the division title, if they beat the Commanders and both the Eagles and 49ers lose.

If the Eagles and 49ers are up big or seem to be heading in that direction by the second half, Dallas may pull their starters if they see no way to improve their playoff position.

Seattle Seahawks (1/8- 4:25 PM ET vs. Rams)

The 8-8 Seahawks can snag the last spot in the NFC with a win on Sunday afternoon over the Rams, along with a Packers loss that evening to the Lions. Since Green Bay won’t kick off until 8:20 ET, Seattle will need to take care of business no matter what to have any chance to keep playing this season.

New England Patriots (1/8 - 1:00 PM @ Bills)

The Patriots control their own destiny for the final wild-card spot in the AFC, all they need to do is beat the Bills in Week 18, and they have a seat at the post-season table. All systems go for any relevant fantasy players.

Miami Dolphins (1:00 PM ET vs. Jets)

After a loss to New England last Sunday, Miami’s only hope to make the playoffs is a win at home against the Jets, along with the Patriots going down in Buffalo. These games are being played concurrently, so it should be business as usual in South Florida for this Dolphin team.

Pittsburgh Steelers (1:00 PM ET vs. Browns)

The third piece to this last wild-card-spot puzzle is the Steelers, who can earn that final seed if they beat the Browns and both Miami and New England lose. Of course, the NFL scheduled all three games at the same time to add to the excitement and drama of Week 18.

Green Bay Packers (1/8 - 8:20 PM ET vs. Lions)

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers control their own destiny for that last wild-card spot in the NFC. They play the Lions at home in the final contest of the week so will be firing on all cylinders with all available starters for a chance to keep playing this season.

Somewhat Motivated

Los Angeles Chargers (1/8 - 4:25 PM ET @ Broncos)

LA is currently the five seed thanks to a win last week combined with a Ravens loss. Beating Denver in Week 18 secures that spot and a date with the AFC South winner instead of a team from the Bills/Chiefs/Bengals group. The Chargers could also clinch the five seed with a Ravens loss to the Bengals. That game happens earlier in the day, so the Chargers could rest their starters if Cincy beats Baltimore.

The Chargers are playoff-bound no matter what, so they may choose to rest or lighten the load for some of their starters who are recovering from injuries, like Austin Ekeler and their talented WR duo.

Detroit Lions (1/8 - 8:20 PM ET @ Packers)

This falls into the somewhat motivated category since the Lions will know exactly what they are playing for prior to kickoff. Detroit’s only chance of postseason football relies on Seattle losing to the Rams and them beating the Packers on Sunday night.

The Seahawks/Rams game will be wrapping up right before the first snap, so the Lions could be less motivated if there’s zero chance of playing again this season. It is a division game, so feelings could come into play here, but maybe not as much as if there was a chance for more football.

Baltimore Ravens (1/8 - 1:00 PM ET @ Bengals)

A playoff berth has been granted to Baltimore regardless of the remaining scenarios, and will probably be the six seed, though there is the opportunity to move up to the five seed (and a date with a vulnerable AFC South champ) if the Ravens beat the Bengals and a (motivated) Chargers team loses to the Broncos.

Not Motivated and Probably Resting

Minnesota Vikings (1/8 - 1:00 PM ET @ Bears)

Thanks to a clubbing by the Packers in Week 17, Minnesota no longer has a path to the one seed and will likely remain in the third spot in the NFC as winners of the North division. They could choose to rest up for what’s ahead after that tough loss.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1/8 - 1:00 PM ET @ Falcons)

The Bucs secured the NFC South for the second year in a row thanks to a comeback win over Carolina in Week 17. They are locked into the No. 4 seed no matter what happens in Week 18 and will host either the Eagles or Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs.

Expect Tampa Bay’s starters to see limited series if they hit the field at all on Sunday.

*Update: Todd Bowles stated that Tom Brady will at least start against the Falcons with Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask also options.

New York Giants (1/8 - 4:25 PM ET @ Eagles)

After a six-year drought, the Giants earned a playoff berth with an easy win over the Colts last week and are sitting in the sixth spot at the NFC show regardless of their Week 18 outcome in Philly. A well-deserved rest is most likely in the cards for most of the starters, so plan accordingly.

Eliminated From Playoffs

AFC: Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets

NFC: Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Washington Commanders

Note: The Browns and Rams can play spoiler to division rivals, so they may play at full strength.

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