How should you approach week 18 of the NFL season?

Yahoo Sports' Scott Pianowski and Frank Schwab preview week 18 of the NFL season.

Video Transcript

FRANK SCHWAB: What do we do in week 18, Scott? We've never been here before, and this is-- boy, no matter what the NFL tries to do, like, you know, pitting division teams against each other, smart idea. They end up with you, basically, like-- we have such little drama this week. It's just kind of a bad week of football, but there's point spreads attached to all these games. So maybe there's value.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: Yeah, I mean, the whole key to this is, this week, it's an information week. It's a gut feel weak. It's a trying to figure out what team's motivations are, because a lot of these teams are in the playoffs already. And we have to try to figure out, do they care about improving their seeding? Do they think another game, like the Chiefs, which are one of the early games we'll talk about, do they think the Titans have chance of losing?

If they don't think that's really on the board, then it would behoove them to get rested. And remember, too, with an 18 game schedule, football's, as it is, physically demanding, mentally demanding, emotionally demanding. At some point, it just might make sense to say, look, let's just get everybody rest. If we have to play next week, no matter what, or likely, we have to play next week, no matter what, I mean, maybe just getting these guys a break and not exposing them to 60 minutes of a football game, and the hits, and all that stuff, there's something to be said for that. Teams have different approaches on this.

Some teams are like, hey, we're going all out, no matter what. And also with the losing teams, right? I mean, some teams may be playing for-- everybody's playing for the next contract. I get that, but you know, some teams may be quitting on their coach. Some teams may be packing it in. Some teams may really want to get that winning record for their coach, you know?

And maybe the Dolphins really want to stick it to the Patriots, which I think Miami will be one of my plays this week. This is nebulous. There aren't clear answers, you know? A coach isn't going to come, even, like, the really forthright coaches.

Like I love Mike Tomlin. He's not going to come out and say, OK, this is what we're doing this week. Of course, Pittsburgh still has incentive, right? You know, the Browns are out of it. We know Baker Mayfield is not going to play, so this is just one of these things.

You take it case by case, and if you have a good angle on the team's motivation, share it on any of these games. I'll do the same, and just the caveat we've given you all season, the NFL has never been as fluid as it is right now. News can break at any time. COVID is still a fact of our lives. We saw it last week with Kirk Cousins not playing.

There's going to be some teams that are going to be down manpower. Some teams have better backups or better depth than other teams. Some teams can game plan on a shoestring really quickly, and some teams can't. So we're going to jump into the great wide open.

FRANK SCHWAB: So 2003, the Broncos are going to have to play a wild card weekend. Their stuck. They're going to play Indianapolis, and all week, Shanahan said, we're going to play guys. We're going to play guys. We're going to play guys. Any time he's asked, he says that.

Well, they get the Sunday. They're playing at Green Bay, and he just pulls a rug on everybody. And he deactivates everybody, and honestly, like, I'm not trying to rip Shanny here, because I think that's the right approach. Because here's what his thought process was.

He had his starters mentally involved all week, meetings they were involved, practices they were involved. They prepared themselves as if they were going to play the game, but then they don't play the game and take any abuse on their bodies basically. And I thought that was really smart. But as far as me and you sit here trying to handicap these games and all, we have to remember, just because Mike McCarthy says, hey, we're going to play everybody, which he has, Jerry Jones has said that. And I think that's more important to Mike McCarthy and that franchise, but it doesn't necessarily mean what we think it means.

It might be one series. It might mean, hey, we're just keeping these guys involved all week, and meetings, and practice, and stuff. So every single-- like this is the one week, where you really have to grind. If you want to bet these games, you have to know every team's motivation, what the coaches are saying, what the coaches history is, whether you trust the coaches, and also, backup situations, almost like preseason, where like, OK, well, if this team isn't going to play starters, what does their backup situation look like? Is it OK? So yeah, this is-- it's actually really an interesting week for me just because it's different than literally any other week of the NFL season other than-- the best comp might be preseason, where you're just trying to figure out motivations and all that.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: Yeah, I know my friend Adam Levitan, who is doing a great job over to establish the run. He had a big DFS hit cash a couple of weeks ago. He always likes this final week of the season, because it's an information grind. And he feels like he can read tea leaves better than the average guy in this place, and him, it's also why he's a very successful DFS player in the preseason.

Because that's all information grab, and that's all they're telling me one thing. But I think I know what that means, so we'll meander through it. We'll see how we do.

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