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NFL Week 18 betting forecast: Inspired Bills will beat Patriots

Damar Hamlin had his breathing tube removed Friday, and the Buffalo Bills safety began talking with his family and teammates as he continues to “progress remarkably in his recovery,” the team said in a statement.

Four days after Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field during the Bills-Bengals “Monday Night Football” game, doctors said his neurological function remains intact.

Buffalo coach Sean McDermott surprised the team Friday with Hamlin on the phone via Zoom. Hamlin flexed his biceps, made the heart symbol and told his teammates, “I love you boys.”

“And, of course, that got the guys,” McDermott said.

Buffalo will have ample inspiration to win Sunday’s game against the Patriots for Hamlin, who, after waking up in the hospital, asked in writing who won Monday’s game. The physicians’ response was, “Damar, you won. You won the game of life.”

The Bills, 7-point home favorites, also have motivation to beat New England to either clinch the AFC’s No. 1 playoff seed (if the Chiefs lose to the Raiders on Saturday), or to ensure that a potential AFC title game against Kansas City will be played on a neutral field (if the Chiefs beat the Raiders).

Buffalo, which has won the last three meetings with New England by a combined score of 104-48, also can deny the Patriots a playoff berth. The Bills beat New England 33-21 late last season, 47-17 in last year’s wild card playoff game and 24-10 on Dec. 1.

They should win and cover again on Sunday and give the game ball, and plenty of positive vibes, to Hamlin.

Four more plays (home team in CAPS):

RAIDERS (+9) over Chiefs: The Raiders have lost 10 games this season. Nine of the losses were by seven points or fewer, including a 30-29 defeat at Kansas City on Oct. 10. Jarrett Stidham threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns last week against the NFL’s No. 1 defense in a 37-34 overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Stidham and the Raiders should be able to score enough against the Chiefs to keep it close, if not pull an outright upset to pave the way for Buffalo to get the No. 1 seed.

COLTS (-2½) over Texans: It’s fitting that two of the league’s worst teams opened the season with a 20-20 tie. They’ll close it with the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft on the line. This is a play against Houston (2-13-1), which can clinch the top pick with a loss to Indianapolis. The Texans went 3-0 against the spread in narrow losses to the Cowboys and Chiefs and a win over the Titans before getting whipped by the Jaguars 31-3 last week.

Vikings (-5½) over BEARS: If the Texans beat the Colts, the Bears can secure the No. 1 pick in the draft by losing to the Vikings. Chicago quarterback Justin Fields has been ruled out for the game, and Nathan Peterman will start against Minnesota. Peterman, who hasn’t started a game since 2018, has thrown for three TDs and 13 interceptions in his career.

Lions (+5) over PACKERS: Detroit beat Green Bay 15-9 in Week 9 to ignite a stretch of seven wins in nine games and an 8-1 ATS run. The Lions can still grab a playoff spot with a win over the Packers if the Seahawks lose to the Rams. If Seattle wins, Detroit will have to settle for playing spoiler against its division rival and will probably be getting more points from Green Bay. Either way, the Lions will play hard for coach Dan Campbell. Detroit is 9-2 ATS in the last 11 meetings with the Packers.

Last week: 1-3-1

Season: 43-38-4

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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