If you believe in the theory that a home-field advantage is the great equalizer in all of sports, then this weekend's crop of NFL games is going to be right up your alley.
On paper, there are many mismatches between potential playoff teams and teams trying to finish the season on a high note. But games aren't played on paper; weird things tend to happen when you put a team riding high, up against a desperate team.
As we take a look at the schedule for Week 13, here are the home underdogs who look awfully good to cover the spread.
Odds courtesy of Bovada.
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams (+7.5)
Until the 49ers name a starting quarterback, which is expected to happen Wednesday, it is hard to declare them such prohibitive favorites in this game. Jim Harbaugh is doing his best to be the most neutral politician in history, even though Colin Kaepernick's recent play suggests the offense runs better when he is under center.
But let's not forget that it was just three weeks ago where the Rams, who were playing on the road, had the 49ers against the ropes early. Then, drove down the field late in the fourth quarter after the 49ers went ahead to take a 24-21 lead, before allowing a game-tying field goal that sent it to overtime.
While that game ended in a tie, the Rams had an 80-yard completion to Danny Amendola on their first play in overtime that was called back because of a penalty. They are one mistake away from holding a victory over the 49ers.
These two teams know each other so well that nothing is going to be a surprise. If the 49ers decide to start Alex Smith, look for their offense to rely more on that dink-and-dunk style of passing, which could allow the Rams to hang around.
The 49ers are clearly the superior team, but the difference between the top teams in the NFL and a team like the Rams might not be as great as it seems. The 49ers will win, but in the words of Lee Corso, it will be closer than the experts think.
49ers 24, Rams 20
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (+6)
Which Favorite Is On Upset Alert?
For a team that we were all talking about as the best in the NFL, the Texans have shown quite a few holes in recent weeks. They have allowed 68 points and 983 yards to Jacksonville and Detroit, though they did win both games in overtime.
The Titans find more ways to lose games than almost anyone else in the league, but there is a foundation in place that gives this franchise optimism for the future. Chris Johnson is well on his way to another 1,000-yard season.
More important than that, quarterback Jake Locker is getting his feet back under him after missing five games. He still struggles with consistency, but when he is on, this team can move the ball.
The Texans haven't been right, particularly in pass coverage, for two weeks. They need to prove they are just going through a swoon right now, and not in a pattern of decline that will put more pressure on the defensive line.
Given the way the Texans' offense has been rolling along, it is hard to predict the straight-up upset, but the Titans should be able to hold their own and cover the big spread.
Texans 28, Titans 24
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (+9)
The New England Patriots have an incredible knack for acting like the big bully on the block and beating up on the little guy. They have done it the last two weeks, scoring a combined 108 points against Indianapolis and New York.
As impressive as the numbers have been—and they really are incredible—it is important to keep some things in perspective. The Patriots scored 21 points in 52 seconds because the Jets couldn't hold on to the ball.
Stupid mistakes by the Jets cost them the game, not just complete and overwhelming dominance from the Patriots.
The Dolphins have a good balance on offense, so long as Ryan Tannehill isn't throwing interceptions. Reggie Bush had success running against the Patriots in the final game of last season, running for 113 yards.
Obviously, the Patriots weren't playing for much on that day, but it does give the Dolphins something they can use against this defense.
If the Dolphins can get their passing game going against a weak Patriots secondary, look for them to start using more draw plays to open up holes for Bush to run through and control the clock to keep the ball away from Tom Brady.
Patriots 31, Dolphins 24