Week 18 is here and it’s going to be wild and wacky as usual. But maybe even more so, as there are more teams still in the playoff race in the final week than anytime in the last 41 years. Add in injuries and a few teams resting their starting quarterbacks and we have an interesting set of matchups at the QB position heading into Week 18.
NFL Week 18 starting quarterbacks
Steelers vs. Ravens
PIT: Mason Rudolph
BAL: Tyler Huntley
The Ravens will rest key starters, including likely MVP Lamar Jackson, as they have the No. 1 seed in the AFC wrapped up. The Steelers on the other hand need a win to help their chances of sneaking into the playoffs and third-string QB Mason Rudolph has shown to be the best option to get that done heading into Week 18.
Texans vs. Colts
HOU: CJ Stroud
IND: Gardner Minshew
This game is an old fashioned win and your in matchup, as the winner secures a playoff spot. Stroud is back from his concussion and played well last week in a much-needed win for the Texans. Gardner Minshew will once again get the start after their No. 1 pick, Anthony Richardson, went down with a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 5.
Jets vs. Patriots
NYJ: Trevor Siemian
NE: Bailey Zappe
This matchup is a big one for both teams, as they need losses to help their draft status. A loss insures a No. 2 or 3 pick for the Patriots and the Jets could move all the way up to the 5th pick.
Browns vs. Bengals
CLE: Jeff Driskel
CIN: Jake Browning
Joe Flacco has been a revelation for the Browns and is the key to them locking up a playoff spot and being able to rest players like Joe Flacco. The Browns will start journeyman Jeff Driskel, who they just snagged off the Cardinals practice squad, while the Bengals will start Jake Browning, who has played well since Joe Burrow went down with a season-ending wrist injury in Week 11.
Vikings vs. Lions
MIN: Nick Mullens
DET: Jared Goff
The Vikings haven’t been able to find a consistent replacement for Kirk Cousins, who tore his Achilles in Week 8. Josh Dobbs, Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall have all gotten starts. Mullens will get the start this week after replacing Hall the previous week. The Vikings still have a slim chance of getting into the playoffs.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell says the team will play their starters. They can either get the No. 2 or 3 seed in the playoff.
Jaguars vs. Titans
JAX: Trevor Lawrence (confirmed)
TEN: Ryan Tannehill (confirmed)
Update — Will Levis is inactive and Tannehill will start. Lawrence is active and going to start for Jacksonville.
The Titans have nothing to play for other than a loss can help their draft status. Rookie Will Levis hurt his foot last week, so the starting QB job is still up in the air. They could end up going with second-year QB Malik Willis, as they already know what they have in soon to be leaving Ryan Tannehill.
Falcons vs. Saints
ATL: Desmond Ridder (confirmed)
NO: Derek Carr
Update — Taylor Heinicke is inactive and Ridder will start for Atlanta.
Taylor Heinicke is dealing with an ankle injury, but was able to get a limited practice in on Wednesday. Neither him or Desmond Ridder have shown enough to be considered the starter, but the team has a slim chance of making the playoffs.
The Saints will go with Derek Carr as usual. They too can make the playoffs if the Panthers can beat the Buccaneers.
Buccaneers vs. Panthers
TB: Baker Mayfield
CAR: Bryce Young
Mayfield is banged up going into Week 18 for the Bucs, who need a win to take the NFC South division title and get the No. 4 seed in the NFC. The Panthers will give Young another start to close out his rookie season. Carolina doesn’t own its first-round pick for the 2024 NFL Draft and have already clinched the worst record in the NFL.
Bears vs. Packers
CHI: Justin Fields
GB: Jordan Love
The Packers are playing to get into the playoffs and the Bears are playing to make sure they don’t get in. So we’ll see both starters in Fields and Love starting on Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field. There’s no indication the Bears are going to rest anyone else. The Packers could get WR Christian Watson back as well as LB De’Vondre Campbell. CB Jaire Alexander is set to return after serving a one-game suspension last week.
Broncos vs. Raiders
DEN: Jarrett Stidham
LVR: Aidan O’Connell
The Broncos have benched Russell Wilson to keep him from getting injured and having his injury clause kick in. That leaves backup Easton Stick, who got the win in Week 17 and is playing for starting consideration in 2024.
The Raiders will send Aiden O’Connell out there again. He took over the job from Jimmy Garoppolo when Josh McDaniels was fired, but they will likely go after another QB this offseason, either in the draft, a trade, or free agency.
Eagles vs. Giants
PHI: Jalen Hurts
NYG: Tyrod Taylor
The Eagles need a win and a Cowboys loss in order to win the NFC East division. The Giants are likely going to play everyone this week in an attempt to deny their rival that title. Of course that means the rival Cowboys would take the division and No. 2 seed in the NFC. The Eagles would remain as the No. 5 seed and go on the road in the Wild Card round if they don’t win the NFC East.
Seahawks vs. Cardinals
SEA: Geno Smith
ARI: Kyler Murray
The Seahawks need a win and some help to get into the postseason, similar to last year. Seattle sits at 8-8 and is behind the Packers in the NFC Wild Card standings. The Seahawks need a win and a Packers loss to the Bears in order to get into the playoffs. The Cardinals are also in a lost season but are expected to start Murray to finish the year.
Chiefs vs. Chargers
KC: Blaine Gabbert
LAC: Easton Stick
The Chiefs have the No. 3 seed locked in, so will rest their starters, as is Andy Reid’s usual approach. The Chargers will send backup Easton Stick out there with Justin Herbert’s season ending finger injury. Their fans should hope for a loss to help bolster their draft pick standing.
Rams vs. 49ers
LAR: Carson Wentz
SF: Sam Darnold
The battle of the backups will take place in southern California, as both the Rams and 49ers have clinched a playoff spot and will rest their starters. The 49ers have the No. 1 seed wrapped up, while the Rams could get the No. 6 or 7 seed.
Cowboys vs. Commanders
DAL: Dak Prescott
WAS: Sam Howell
Washington finally tried to bench Sam Howell, but Jacoby Brissett hurt his hamstring in practice, so we get another week of Howell in a game they need to lose for a very good shot at the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft.
The Cowboys need a win so they can hold off the Eagles for the NFC East title. They will go all out with Dak Prescott as their starter.
Bills vs. Dolphins
BUF: Josh Allen
MIA: Tua Tagovailoa
We actually have two top-end starters for this big matchup on Sunday Night Football. The Bills need a win and they’re in the playoffs, so Josh Allen is the no doubt starter. The Dolphins need a win to take the AFC East and the No. 2 seed. A loss likely sends them to Kansas City with the No. 6 seed.