On this final regular season NFL Sunday, which NFL runners are the best bets to make on your week 18 rushing yards parlay?
It’s tempting to start the Week 18 Rushing Yards Parlay with a line like, “Wow, can you believe we’re at the end of the regular season already?”
But… yeah, I can absolutely believe it. After all, how long ago does it seem that we were wondering:
- Would Aaron Rodgers lead the Jets to a playoff berth or better? (Oops!)
- Has Christian McCaffrey lost a step? (Oops!)
- Can Lamar Jackson ever contend for a title? (Oops!)
- Is this finally the year for Cleveland and Detroit?
Well, we might need a little longer on that last one.
For this week, we’re trying to focus on players whose status is determined. Please keep an eye on lineup updates up until kickoff, as playoff considerations mean numerous top NFL rushers could see their playing time reduced or sit out of Sunday’s game entirely.
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James Cook OVER 63.5 yards at Miami Dolphins (-115)
Here’s one game where we don’t have to worry about any starters sitting out. The winner takes home the AFC East title and the right to host playoff games in the first two rounds, should they advance. Both sides will be plenty motivated.
In the Dolphins’ case, however, injuries continue to take a toll after Bradley Chubb’s ACL tear. Five starters missed practice Thursday, with CB Xavien Howard looking the least likely to suit up on Sunday. Typically a missing pass rusher and cornerback is good news for the passing game. However, we’ve seen the secret to beating the Dolphins. Keep the defense on the field with Tua and Tyreek locked up on the sidelines.
Cook, named to his 1st Pro Bowl this week, should be up to the task, averaging 20 carries and 98 yards rushing in the past three games. In a possible do-or-die game (Buffalo hasn’t clinched a playoff berth yet) It should be enough to overcome a solid Miami run defense weakened by injuries and coming off a 56-19 pasting at the hands of Baltimore.
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Jahmyr Gibbs UNDER 51.5 yards vs. Minnesota Vikings (-120)
“Under?” you’re asking. “Jahmyr Gibbs? Against the Vikings? But you LOVE this guy!”
Guilty as charged. Gibbs was one of my favorite rookies coming into 2023, and nothing’s changed. But the Lions have just about nothing to gain in this game.
Detroit can’t catch San Francisco for the No. 1 seed and would need to win and see Dallas lose to potentially pass the NFC East champion for the No. 2 seed thanks to last week’s officiating debacle. This play is largely based on my belief the Lions will limit their rookie ball carrier who’s already at 169 carries going into the playoffs.
Of course, another way to look at it is that Gibbs has 915 yards rushing and could become only the 3rd Detroit Lions to rush for 1.000 yards in the past 20 years (bonus points if you can name the other two).
Standing in his way? A top-10 Minnesota rushing defense in a do-or-die situation, who just faced the Lions two weeks ago. Oh, and also the fact that such a milestone would be a terrible reason to risk Gibbs’ health this close to the postseason.
The bet here is that Gibbs calls it a day early in the Motor City and stays under this number.
(*The other two 1,000-yard rushers? Jamaal Williams in 2021 and Reggie Bush in 2013. Was this team overdue for a star running back or what?)
Khalil Herbert OVER 60.5 yards at Green Bay Packers (-115)
We’ll start with the bad news. Herbert was limited at practice Thursday due to a back injury and is expected to be listed as questionable. Bad news if it limits his effectiveness, worse news if he actually misses the game because that would nullify the play.
But there’s more – after totaling less than 350 yards in the Bears’ first 14 games, Herbert has zoomed past the 100-yard mark in consecutive contests (124 vs. the Falcons, 112 vs. the Cardinals). It’s no coincidence the Bears won both games.
People talk about motivation in these late-season games without understanding the things that motivate NFL players. Sure, the Packers need this win more than the Bears… but don’t you think Khalil Herbert wants to continue his momentum into the offseason after what started as a disappointing campaign?
Don’t you think the Bears – who get the No. 1 pick from Carolina in April no matter what happens Sunday – want to finish the year on a three-game winning streak, and simultaneously ruin things for their rivals?
If Herbert plays on Sunday, I expect him to do well against the NFL’s 27th-ranked rush defense. And if he doesn’t play, take a look at Roschon Johnson or even QB Justin Fields in his place. Chicago’s offense figures to be a group to watch going into 2024 – and that’s before we get to see what they do at the Draft or in free agency.
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Rob’s Week 18 NFL Rushing Yards Parlay (+540)
(Odds courtesy of DraftKings)
- James Cook OVER 63.5 yards (-115)
- Jahmyr Gibbs UNDER 51.5 yards (-120)
- Khalil Herbert OVER 60.5 yards (-115)