2023 NFL picks, score predictions for Week 18

NFL picks and score predictions for Week 18 of the 2023-24 season.
NFL picks
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8) @ Carolina Panthers (2-14)

Sunday, January 7, 1:00 PM ET

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a golden opportunity in Week 17 at home against the Saints, and they absolutely blew it. I stuck my neck out for them a couple of times last week, too.

We’re all collectively shaking our head at the Bucs’ performance in Week 17 but we don’t have long to feel sorry for them. If we’re going to see Baker Mayfield go from being cast-off by three different teams in less than a year’s time to leading the Bucs to the playoffs, he’s going to have to get the job done in a stressful game to end the year against the Panthers.

The Panthers are the saddest team in the NFL this year, no doubt about it. They have clinched the #1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, except they traded it to the Chicago Bears last offseason. They fired Frank Reich in the middle of the season. Their owner is throwing drinks on fans.

This is a team that is clearly at rock-bottom.

I think the Buccaneers are going to get the win here, there’s no doubt about it. The Panthers could play spoiler, but that would be some kind of surprise given the way they’ve played this season. It would require an epic collapse on the part of the Bucs. 

Tampa Bay is considered six-point favorites in this matchup.

Prediction: Buccaneers win 24-12