NFL Lines Week 12: Underdogs Worth Betting on in Sunday's Action

Shawn BrubakerContributor IINovember 22, 2012

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 18:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers directs the offense against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 18, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Chargers 30-23.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Everyone roots for the underdog, especially when they've got money on them. These underdogs are definitely worth a look in Week 12.


San Diego Chargers (+1 vs. Ravens)

The 4-6 Chargers are squaring off against the 8-2 Ravens, leading one to ask why the Ravens are only favored by one. A look at history provides all the answers you need.

Last year, the Ravens were riding high heading to San Diego. They were in the driver's seat for home-field advantage, and they needed just three more wins to get it.

With that motivation, one would think that the Ravens would be extra motivated, but instead, they came out flat and were completely dominated on the road.

Those Ravens were a much more talented squad than this year's group, so expect more of the same from the Chargers.

What makes this such a mismatch is a combination of the offense's struggles on the road, paired with the matchup problems caused by the Chargers' deep passing attack.

First of all, the Ravens offense struggles the farther away from M&T Bank Stadium it is. Joe Flacco sports a passer rating of just 65.6 on the road, and almost two-thirds of the times he's been sacked have been on the road. San Diego might be their longest trip of the season, so expect some offensive ineptitude from the Ravens. 

On the other side of the ball, the Ravens will struggle to handle Danario Alexander and Malcom Floyd, two players who excel at catching the ball downfield. Corey Graham will simply not have the size or speed to handle either of these two receivers, and Cary Williams' ball skills are often exposed on deep routes.

If you get a chance to bet against the Ravens when they are road favorites, do it.


New Orleans Saints (+1 vs. San Francisco 49ers)

The New Orleans Saints have caught fire, and there is nothing the 49ers can do to stop it.

For proof, just look at Drew Brees' passer rating. In September, it was a middling 86.1. It improved in October to 103.6. Now, in November, Brees' rating is a sky-high 125.0, as he's thrown eight touchdowns to just one interception while completing over 70 percent of his passes.

Meanwhile, if the 49ers do have a weakness on defense, it's been the secondary in recent weeks. They've given up 290 yards to John Skelton and 275 to Sam Bradford in the past three weeks, and Drew Brees is the most prolific quarterback they've played all season.

One question worth asking, though, is how the Saints will handle new 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick. They are the league's worst run defense, so expect the 49ers to focus on running the ball with their talented stable of running backs and Kaepernick.

The Saints don't need to shut down the 49ers running game to win; they just need to make sure it doesn't dominate. If they succeed in slowing the 49ers down, I'll take Drew Brees over Colin Kaepernick in a close game.


St. Louis Rams (-1.5 at Arizona Cardinals)

That Vegas could consider the Cardinals favorites in any game is baffling, especially after Ryan Lindley grabbed hold of the starting job at quarterback. Last week saw the San Diego State product throw just 64 yards on 20 attempts, as Lindley completed less than half his passes.

Lindley's ability, paired with the worst offensive line in football, guarantee that the Rams will dominate defensively. Chris Long and Robert Quinn have paired for 15.5 sacks this season for the Rams. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have already given up 43 sacks this season, combined with a staggering 124 hurries. Long and Quinn should dominate.

On the other side of the ball, the Rams will simply need to play mistake-free football to win the game. Facing a Cardinal defense that excels at stopping the pass but struggles against the run, expect a healthy dose of Stephen Jackson as the Rams emphasize ball control.

This game will probably be a low-scoring, close affair, but the team with the fewest mistakes should win. That should be the Rams.