Losing to a 37-year-old quarterback not named Brett Favre will put any team in the dog house with NFL bettors.
The Baltimore Ravens, licking their wounds after a 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and third-string QB Charlie Batch last Sunday, aren’t getting the treatment most 9-3 teams would this time of year.
Oddsmakers opened the Ravens as a pick for their trip to D.C. to play the red-hot Washington Redskins in Week 14. That line has since moved to Washington -1 following the Redskins' win over the New York Giants on Monday Night Football.
Baltimore currently sits atop the AFC North, two games ahead of Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and ranks third overall in the conference, behind Houston and New England and ahead of Denver due to conference winning percentage. The Ravens, however, are the only squad among the top four AFC teams that has yet to clinch a playoff spot.
Baltimore walks a slippery slope in the final four weeks of the schedule. After facing the Redskins, the Ravens face the Broncos and Giants at home before traveling to the Bengals for what could be a division decider if Cincinnati continues its winning ways.
Add to that LB Terrell Suggs' torn biceps and the uncertain return of Ray Lewis, and Baltimore could be on the verge of an epic collapse.
This team is far from elite and Week 14’s spread proves it.
Here are other spreads making football bettors go “hmmm…” heading into the weekend:
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-10.5, 34.5)
CenturyLink Field has been regarded as the toughest place to visit in the NFL for quite some time. Just take a look at the Seahawks' home numbers and you’ll see the home-field edge in Seattle is worth more than just the token two or three points.
The Seahawks are a perfect 5-0 SU and ATS at CenturyLink this season, but are oddsmakers going a bit overboard with Week 14’s spread? Some online books are dealing Seattle as large as -12 when it hosts the stumbling Arizona Cardinals, losers of eight straight, Sunday. The last time the Seahawks gave this many points was a Week 9 meeting with the Detroit Lions in 2009, winning 32-20 as 11-point home favorites.
Seattle's offense may not have the chops to cover the pile of chalk, averaging just over 20 points per game. And while Arizona isn't lighting up the scoreboard - at all - its defense still ranks among the best in the NFL and won't make it easy for the Seahawks attack. That big spread just doesn't match up when weighed against the 34.5-point total - tied for the second lowest number this season.
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (+2.5, 39)
The NFC North is arguably the toughest division in the NFL, which is evident by the spread between the Bears and Vikings this Sunday.
Oddsmakers are expecting another strong home showing from Minnesota, setting it as a slight home underdog hosting 8-4 Chicago. The Vikings have cooled from their hot start, going just 1-4 SU and ATS in their last five outings to fall to 6-6 on the year.
These two rivals met just two short weeks ago, with the Bears taking a 28-10 victory as 6.5-point favorites at Soldier Field. Since then, banged-up Chicago faltered versus Seattle at home last weekend, losing 23-17 in overtime.
Navy Midshipmen vs. Army Black Knights (+7, 56.5)
Is this the year Army finally beats Navy? Early action on this classic year-end matchup at least seems to think the Black Knights have a shot at covering the spread, moving the opening number from +9 to a touchdown as of Tuesday morning.
Navy has dominated this matchup in recent years, winning 10 straight contests with Army and going 7-3 ATS in that span. Army has, however, come away with the cover in two of the past three seasons, including a 27-21 loss as a 7-point underdog last year.
Interesting enough, the total for this one climbed as high as 57 points before settling back down at its opener. The under has been the best bet when Army meets Navy, with the teams playing below the number in six straight meetings.