NFL Week 17 Upset Alert: Beware Chargers and Ravens

Let’s look at two top outright underdogs to win on the moneyline NFL odds at the top sportsbooks.

Don’t forget to also check out our NFL Week 17 top picks for more winning bets.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Sunday, January 1, 2023 – 04:25 PM EST at SoFi Stadium

Los Angeles Chargers

CBS has the telecast of this meaningless matchup – and it is meaningless because the Rams have long been eliminated from playoff contention, and the Chargers have clinched a wild-card spot and can’t win the AFC West, so they really have little reason to care.

There’s also the fact the Bolts are on a short week after winning 20-3 at Indianapolis on Monday to clinch the franchise’s first playoff spot since 2018.

It is a bit concerning that the Bolts are averaging only 20.0 points per game in their three-game winning streak and that Justin Herbert hasn’t thrown a TD in the past two with three picks. Are his ribs bothering him?

Injured Players

Pro Bowl running back Austin Ekeler, who had two more TDs on Monday and 16 total on the year (11 rushing, five receiving) is playing with an injured knee, so it wouldn’t be shocking if he sat out.

Pro Bowl safety Derwin James, who returned Monday after missing a few games injured, had a pick but was ejected for targeting and now apparently might have a concussion. Can’t imagine he plays.

Los Angeles Rams

While the Chargers will be the “home” team here, they will be the road team in terms of fan support because Los Angeles is a Rams town. 

Should the Rams lose, they would become the first Super Bowl champions to lose 11 games the following season. They’ve played quite a bit better since plucking QB Baker Mayfield off waivers as he led a comeback win over Las Vegas in Week 14, and a 51-14 rout of Denver in Week 16.

It was the Rams’ first 50-point performance under Coach Sean McVay since their epic 54-51 victory over Kansas City in 2018 on a Monday night.

There’s Hope for Mayfield and Co

Both those recent Rams wins were at home, and, well, so is this. Mayfield has shown enough to where the team may re-sign the former Heisman winner this offseason as Matthew Stafford insurance.

Running back Cam Akers was banished from the Rams earlier this season as both parties wanted to work out a trade, but nothing happened. Akers had three rushing TDs vs. Denver and has an NFL-leading six rushing touchdowns in December. Akers had just three rushing TDs in his first 23 career games combined.

This is the first meeting between the teams since SoFi Stadium opened, and we simply think the Chargers may punt on this game mentally. 

NFL Pick: Rams ML (+240) at BetMGM

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens 

Sunday, January 1, 2023 – 08:20 PM EST at M&T Bank Stadium

This was flexed into the Sunday night window (NBC) in place of Rams-Chargers, which deservedly was bumped out of prime time.

We faded the Chargers because they clinched a playoff spot last week and might be rather flat, and that’s partly true of Baltimore as it locked down at least a wild-card spot with an ugly 17-9 win over Atlanta on Christmas Eve. The Ravens still have a shot at the AFC North title.

Baltimore Ravens

Week 16 was the team’s third straight game without quarterback Lamar Jackson, and it’s not looking good for him to return Sunday as the former league MVP hasn’t practiced yet.

Including the Week 13 game where Jackson left injured, the Ravens have scored 10, 16, 3 and 17 points with primarily Tyler Huntley at QB. The Ravens’ nine completions vs. Atlanta were tied for their fewest in a game since John Harbaugh became coach in 2008. 

“Players play when they’re healthy and ready to go; that’s really all we do,” Harbaugh said this week. “When the player and the docs come back and say, ‘Hey, it’s time,’ then [as] coaches, we build him into the game plan. That’s really how [it works]. To think about it beyond that is just kind of a waste of energy and time.” 

Also on Thursday, a few players weren’t practicing (doesn’t mean they will all sit, but they might):

• Defensive end Calais Campbell

• Cornerback Marcus Peters

• Safety Geno Stone

• Running back J.K. Dobbins

• Receiver Demarcus Robinson

• Tight end Nick Boyle

• Offensive lineman Trystan Colon

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh probably won’t make the playoffs, but its wild-card chances are alive – the New York Times gives Mike Tomlin’s team only a 2% chance.

The lone plausible scenario to make it would be to win out and:

1. The Dolphins lose at the Patriots in Week 17 and at home to the Jets in Week 18

2. The Jets lose in Week 17 at Seattle

3. The Patriots lose in Week 18 at Buffalo

4. Miami, the Jets and New England all hold head-to-head tiebreakers over the Steelers after beating them earlier this season

On the bright side, the Steelers have won five of their past seven and only three of their losses overall have come by more than one possession (none since October).

They did lose 16-14 at home to the Ravens in Week 14 when Jackson was out, but Pittsburgh rookie starting QB Kenny Pickett left early with a concussion and Mitch Trubisky threw three picks in relief. Pickett is healthy now. 

NFL Pick: Steelers ML (+126) at BetRivers