When they meet Saturday night in one of several intriguing games in the penultimate week of the NFL season, the Ravens and Chargers will be chasers. By Sunday night, they could be leaders. Baltimore (8-6) trails Pittsburgh (8-5-1) by a half-game in the AFC North. The Chargers (11-3) are tied with Kansas City for the AFC West lead — and the conference's best record — but the Chiefs hold the tiebreaker.
When they meet Saturday night in one of several intriguing games in the penultimate week of the NFL season, the Ravens and Chargers will be chasers. By Sunday night, they could be leaders.
Baltimore (8-6) trails Pittsburgh (8-5-1) by a half-game in the AFC North. The Chargers (11-3) are tied with Kansas City for the AFC West lead — and the conference's best record — but the Chiefs hold the tiebreaker.
So the winner will be in solid position for the playoffs; LA already is in. Plus, the Steelers and Chiefs have very difficult road tests.
"They're playing outstanding football," Ravens safety Eric Weddle said of his former team. "We've got everything in our hands, as do they, so it's going to be an amazing game, one that will define where our season goes from there."
Baltimore, ranked 12th in the AP Pro32 poll, is a 4½-point underdog at the No. 2 Chargers, who have had an extended rest after a sensational comeback win at Kansas City on Dec. 13.
KNOCKOUT POOL: Baltimore struggled a bit but then "Lamared" the Bucs. Next up, try TENNESSEE.
No. 27 Cincinnati (plus 7) at No. 16 Cleveland
Hard to believe we're going with Browns as our top choice. We are.
BEST BET: BROWNS, 23-13
No. 20 Green Bay (minus 1) at No. 29 New York Jets
Tempted by Houston and Seattle, but see this as ...
UPSET SPECIAL: J-E-T-S, 20-17
No. 5 Los Angeles Rams (minus 14) at No. 32 Arizona
Rams' offense needs to wake up for 60 minutes. This is the time.
No. 8 Pittsburgh (plus 5 1-2) at No. 1 New Orleans
Saints' offense needs to wake up for 60 minutes. This is the time.
No. 6 Houston (plus 2 1-2) at No. 15 Philadelphia
Such a huge game for both sides. In Foles we trust.
No. 3 Kansas City (minus 2 1-2) at No. 10 Seattle
Chiefs could go from No. 1 seed to wild card, especially if they lose here.
No. 23 New York Giants (plus 9 1-2) at No. 9 Indianapolis
Colts believe they are playoff bound. Giants won't get in way.
No. 18 Washington (plus 10) at No. 14 Tennessee, Saturday
Titans believe they are playoff bound. Redskins won't get in way.
No. 24 Tampa Bay (plus 7) at No. 11 Dallas
Dallas came back to Earth last week, should soar this week.
No. 25 (tie) Buffalo (plus 13) at No. 7 New England
No more road nightmares for Patriots, who are 6-0 at Foxborough.
No. 13 Minnesota (minus 5 1-2) at No. 25 (tie) Detroit
Wild-card spot could depend on win here for Vikings.
No. 4 Chicago (minus 3 1-2) at No. 28 San Francisco
Niners won't be intimidated by Bears' D after handling Seahawks' D.
No. 22 Atlanta (plus 3) at No. 19 Carolina
Ron Rivera deserves better than what players have delivered. Dan Quinn, too.
No. 21 Denver (minus 2 1-2) at No. 31 Oakland, Monday night
Last home game in Bay Area for Raiders?
No. 30 Jacksonville (plus 4 1-2) at No. 17 Miami
At least it should be sunny for this one.
Last Week: Against spread (7-8-1). Straight up (9-7)
Season Totals: Against spread (110-101-8). Straight up: (145-77-2)
Best Bet: 5-10 against spread, 10-5 straight up
Upset special: 8-7 against spread, 7-7-1 straight up