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Ravens feel 'disrespected' being listed as underdogs in Monday night's showdown vs. 49ers

A showdown of top seeds with identical records is set for Christmas night.

Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton already feels like he has a lump of coal in his stocking. Baltimore (11-3) is seen as the underdog in their Monday night matchup with the San Francisco 49ers (11-3), marking just the second instance in which the Ravens haven't been favored entering a game in 2023.

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"We feel a little disrespected by that," Hamilton told reporters Wednesday. "I feel like we are the best team in the league, and we have an opportunity in front of the country to show it."

Despite entering Week 16 on a four-game winning streak -- including victories over Cincinnati, Jacksonville and the Los Angeles Rams -- Baltimore is a five-point underdog to San Francisco, according to Caesar's Sportsbook, as of Thursday.

"I don't want them to pick us," quarterback Lamar Jackson said on Wednesday. "I like being the underdog. 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."

Four NFL teams have secured playoff spots so far in the 2023 season. Both of the participants in Monday night's clash of titans are among them. While the Ravens have certainly impressed this season, the 49ers have looked borderline unbeatable since entering their Week 9 bye on a three-game skid. They've won their last six games, outscoring their opponents by a whopping 207-94 margin.

Both quarterback Brock Purdy and running back Christian McCaffrey are considered strong candidates in the NFL's Most Valuable Player race. Jackson, meanwhile, stands as Baltimore's best hope of bringing home the award.

All of this could be playing into the Ravens' favor. Monday Night Football is currently enjoying a streak of upsets, with underdogs winning the last seven matchups.

It's not as if the Ravens needed more motivation entering Week 16, either. They own a one-game lead in the race for the AFC's top seed and need to continue stacking wins to prevent Miami from catching them in a stretch that includes a head-to-head meeting with the Dolphins next week.

"I'm betting on us 10 out of 10 times," linebacker Roquan Smith said. "I don't really care too much about others' opinions."

Baltimore can alter those opinions plenty with a win in San Francisco on Monday night.

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