The AFC-leading Baltimore Ravens, currently holding an 11-3 record, will face the NFC-leading San Francisco 49ers, also 11-3, in a Christmas Day matchup on the road that some folks are already considering a "Super Bowl Lite."
Interestingly, if you read the sentence above and realize both teams share the same record and seeds, the Ravens are entering Monday as a 5.5-point underdog, only the second time they have been pegged the dog this season.
The underdog status for the Ravens, who are tied for the best record in the NFL with Frisco, stirred reactions within the team and the players let their feelings out on Wednesday when they first addressed the media this week, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.
"I’m betting on us 10 out of 10 times. I don’t really care too much about others’ opinions."- Roquan Smith, Baltimore Ravens
Safety Kyle Hamilton felt a sense of disrespect, stating, "We feel a little disrespected by that. I feel like we are the best team in the league, and we have an opportunity in front of the country to show it."
Cornerback Marlon Humphrey said that the spread against San Francisco "hurt my feelings a little bit." He advised those looking to place bets on Monday's matchup, adding "I definitely want to make that incorrect for sure. And hopefully, some people lose some money betting with them and make some money better with us."
Ravens' defensive lynchpin and middle linebacker Roquan Smith was his confident self when he stated "I’m betting on us 10 out of 10 times. I don’t really care too much about others’ opinions."
When asked if the underdog status would be a part of his strategy to get the boys ready for this pivotal game, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said what you'd expect: "It was mentioned, sure."
Quarterback Lamar Jackson, however, seems to enjoy the underdog role. He said that he does not "want them to pick us," adding "I believe we play better when we’re doubted and [when] people aren’t choosing us to win the game. I feel like we play better all the time, so just do it all the way to February. That’s all I ask."
The Ravens haven't had many chances at beating the odds this season with their only other game entered as underdogs taking place in Week 2 at the Cincinnati Bengals. Judging by the 27-24 victorious outcome, however, it's fair to say that there is nothing to fear about Monday's clash against the 49ers.