Every week there are those rather large point spreads that seem enticing, but leave themselves vulnerable to a dilemma due to the boldness and certainty of an NFL game's outcome.
Week 14 is no exception on that front, as three particular NFC teams that once looked like promising playoff contenders have seen their 2012 seasons evaporate before their eyes. With players still hungry to hold onto their job statuses, there is plenty of room to play spoiler against postseason hopefuls.
Here is a breakdown of three road underdogs that are spotted at least a touchdown but will cover the spread on Sunday.
(Note: All point spreads courtesy of BOVADA; Injury information gathered via ESPN's comprehensive report)
Philadelphia Eagles (+7.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Before scoffing at how horrible and discombobulated the Eagles are—rightfully so—keep in mind that rookie third-round pick Nick Foles showed signs of being a franchise QB in last week's loss to Dallas.
Against a division rival in a hostile environment for the second time in a matter of four games, Foles showed poise. Not to mention, fellow rookie Bryce Brown continued to prove he is a viable back, as long as he limits those fumbles.
But really, as impressive as the Bucs have been under first-year head coach Greg Schiano, their pass defense is atrocious. Like 32nd out of 32 NFL teams atrocious.
Part of that is due to a stout run defense, but it also has to do with the fact that the secondary simply isn't very good. The front four also struggles mightily to put pressure on the quarterback.
Those factors should only help Foles continue to improve. This game should be another shootout for Andy Reid's bunch like it was Dallas. Philly may not win, but Tampa is a very young team playing under the national microscope and playoff pressure.
As resurgent a season as Josh Freeman has had, rookie RB Doug Martin is starting to level off after some monster games in the middle of the year.
The Bucs' offense may be too balanced for the Eagles' troubled defense to overcome, but Foles and Co. will put enough points on the board to keep the final result close—even if it's in garbage time.
Buccaneers 38, Eagles 34
Arizona Cardinals (+11.5) at Seattle Seahawks
According to ESPN, typical starter Kevin Kolb is questionable. That may be false optimism for the Cardinals' signal caller who is suffering from a writhing rib injury, but hope has to come from somewhere.
Alas, there actually is hope for Arizona to barely cover the spread despite the fact that the Seahawks have been straight-up dominant at home.
Russell Wilson should be in the conversation for rookie of the year, since he leads all first-year QBs with 19 touchdown passes. Another staggering statistic: he hasn't thrown a pick at home in his young career. He also hasn't thrown one at all in the past four games.
Something tells me that will change against one of the league's premier pass defenses, led by budding second-year CB Patrick Peterson and his five interceptions.
Although Wilson's mobility may be able to get him out of trouble, it should result in a run-heavy attack for Seattle. Considering this is also the second matchup between these teams, there is definite familiarity despite the first meeting occurring in Week 1.
The Seahawks have been one of the most volatile teams of the year, looking like an elite team one minute and blowing coverages on a 3rd-and-long the next. Without starting CB Brandon Browner on the outside due to a suspension (h/t ESPN), it will be interesting to see how the Cardinals' offense is able to attack.
Sure, Arizona seems destined for its ninth consecutive loss, but it won't be quite the blowout that the oddsmakers anticipate.
Seahawks 17, Cardinals 7
Detroit Lions (+7) at Green Bay Packers
In a Week 11 NFC North clash at home, the playoffs still seemed possible for the maligned Lions.
Aaron Rodgers and the Pack struck back the fourth quarter of that game, outscoring Detroit 10-3 to win 24-20.
Other than a 10-point loss to the Minnesota Vikings on the road, every Lions game has been close. With a slightly improved defense and the league's No. 1 passing offense, it's hard to believe Jim Schwartz's team could be 4-8.
But combine a tough division, a brutal schedule and enough mental errors and it results in a costly concoction too potent to overcome. With the combination of QB Matthew Stafford and phenomenal wide receiver Calvin Johnson, the Lions can put up points as quickly as anyone—even Green Bay.
The improvement in Detroit's running game, courtesy of Mikel Leshoure, provides the team with much-needed balance that the Packers simply don't have. Even at Lambeau Field, that will be tough to overcome.
An inherent lack of respect for the Lions makes sense, because they have underachieved so greatly in what was expected to be a year the franchise would take that "next step." With a stellar performance against their divisional foes, Detroit would be able to take at least some solace and pride in spoiling the Packers' bid to win the NFC North.
Look for the Lions to pull the improbable upset on Sunday night, courtesy of a big game from both Stafford and Leshoure against a banged up Packers defense that is still without Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson.
Lions 31, Packers 28
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!