Week 14's key NFL line moves  

December, 7, 2012

If you are looking for a microcosm of the NFL, take a peek at that suddenly relevant game between the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on Sunday.

Less than a week ago, the Skins were 5-6, nothing but filler on an in-game graphic listing teams with a mathematical chance at the playoffs. They were looking at a schedule that included back-to-back games against the defending Super Bowl champs/NFC East-leading Giants and the Ravens, the team that came within a dropped ball of beating the Pats for a Super Bowl slot last season. They were done, toast, getting telestrated out of the playoffs by every analyst running through the scenarios.

Then Robert Griffin III happened. And the Redskins, for the second straight week, beat a division rival in a spectacular way on national television. Personally, I flinch every time RG3 runs with the ball. There's an errant elbow out there that seems magnetically attracted to his fragile brain. There's a duped defensive back chasing him down who will pathetically and desperately try to get a finger hold on the back of his collar and wrestle him awkwardly to the ground. He's a gift. And I'm convinced it won't last. Now, he is the only thing anyone talks about, with some people going so far as to say he is the second-best player in the league after Aaron Rodgers.

The Redskins, out of the playoffs facing an impossible schedule, are now the hot team. One game, one week, one dynamic quarterback and one WWL dose of hyperbole.

Now, consider the Ravens. Heading into last weekend, they were on a four-game winning streak, with three of those coming on the road. The final two had been at Pittsburgh and at San Diego. They were 9-2, poised to clinch the AFC North. And the beauty was, they had the Steelers -- without Ben Roethlisberger, a team that had just fumbled eight times in a loss to the freaking Cleveland Browns -- at home. They led by 10 in the first half, by a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Charlie Batch, whose sleeves hang so low he looks like he's wearing a vintage '70s Halloween costume, was the quarterback.

Then they blew it, losing on a last-second field goal. Instead of being 10-2 and four games up in the division with four weeks to play, they are reeling and wondering what went wrong. How did they blow a lead and a chance to seal the conference title against Charlie Batch?

They were up, the Redskins were down. Now the Redskins are world-beaters and the Ravens have been exposed. Oh, you fickle NFL.

Naturally, the purest form of this hyperbole is reflected in -- all together now -- the point spread.