NFL Week 17: Potential Upsets
The favorites made their presence known last week in the NFL, as 10 of the 16 chalk covered, including eight double-digit winners. The favorites are now 121-110-8 on the year, while the season tally for outright pups improved to 72 in Week 16.
With playoff slots still open, and every qualified team still jockeying for position, there are two underdogs - one from each conference - that are worth looking at, as they could very well win their games outright.
In the AFC, defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore is catching +7 points at 5Dimes in Cincinnati, and the Ravens are still alive in the playoff race. While it's true the Bengals have one of the deepest defensive units in the league, something they proved with Geno Atkins the past six games and Terence Newman the last two, there's one thing that Baltimore promotes this season above any other team: motivation.
No defending champ wants to bow out too early, and certainly doesn't want to be left out of the parade after the season. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee on Dec. 16 in a game against the hard-hitting Detroit Lions, but if there is one game last year's championship-game MVP needs to be in, it's this season finale. Baltimore's defense stepped up in the first meeting, and has proven it can still play hard on that side of the ball.
In the NFC, how does one not look at the Arizona Cardinals, who are catching points at some places, and have been bet down to a pick at others against San Francisco. They come in after a stunning upset win in Seattle, where the Seahawks seemed invincible, and still have a chance to make the playoffs. There's a good chance the Cardinals will become the second 11-5 team to miss the postseason in 11 seasons, but that doesn't mean they won't do their part by winning this game.
Arizona has won seven of its last eight games, and would love nothing more than to treat the home crowd with a season-finale win over the defending NFC champion 49ers.