In picking games for Week 9 of the NFL season, I see four underdogs more than capable of pulling off upsets.
None of the four are necessarily earth-shattering predictions, but each does represent a team that Vegas feels will lose this week in the NFL.
In the following slides, we run down the four teams capable of overcoming their underdog label and pulling off the upset.
If there isn't a little extra juice in the Panthers this week, there may never be.
At 1-6, Carolina is past back-to-the-wall time. But coming off a game in which it played well enough to beat a then 5-1 Chicago team, that desperation should also have a little confidence mixed in. Desperation and a dash of confidence can be a dangerous mix for an NFL team.
And what about the slumping Cam Newton? You better believe he knows who the quarterback will be on the other sidelines Sunday. Robert Griffin III has stolen every bit of thunder he had last season, but he can take some of it back in RG3's backyard.
Maybe that factor will make Newton press more, or maybe it spawns his best performance of 2012. We'll see. But for the umpteenth time this season, I'll be stupidly rolling with the Panthers in an upset this week.
The Dolphins, winners of three straight, are current three-point favorites over the Colts. But there's just something about this Indianapolis team, especially when playing at home recently.
It's hard to put a finger on it, but there's been a purpose to this team ever since losing head coach Chuck Pagano. Since he's left the team for treatment, the Colts are 3-1 and 2-0 at home.
The Dolphins are playing well, and they just got done crushing a Jets team at home that beat up on the Colts in New York, so the line is understandable. But I'll be picking the Colts to beat Miami in Week 9.
The Raiders have won back-to-back games, but consider the offenses of the two teams Oakland has beat: The Chiefs, who started Brady Quinn but had to hand the reins back to Matt Cassel, and the Jaguars, who lost running back Maurice Jones-Drew on the first series of the game.
The Bucs bring a lot more firepower to the table Sunday.
Tampa Bay is averaging an NFL-high 34 points the last three games, and quarterback Josh Freeman has connected on three touchdown passes in each of those games. Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams round out what has evolved into one of the NFC's more explosive offenses.
Nothing against the Raiders, who have beat teams they should, but the Bucs have too much on offense for Oakland to run the winning streak to three games.
If that unit—one still filled to the brim with playmakers—can't score at will against the Saints defense Monday night, there needs to be whole scale changes. In fact, Vick (if he even starts) and Reid may be playing for their respective jobs in New Orleans this week.
Helping matters should be an atrocious defense on the other sidelines.
There's no longer any question that the Saints are the worst defensive team in football, and possibly the worst defense we've seen over the last handful of seasons. The numbers are staggering in terms of yards allowed a game (474.7) and points (30.4).
Drew Brees and the Saints offense should turn this into a Superdome shootout, but Vick and the Eagles have more than enough to continue punishing what the Saints call a "defense."