The Ravens open their game against the San Francisco 49ers as 5 1/2-point underdogs despite the teams’ matching records and matching places atop their conferences.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson isn’t fazed — in fact, he prefers it that way.

“I’m cool,” Jackson said while giving two thumbs-up. “I don’t want them to pick us. I like being the underdog. I believe we play better when we’re doubted and people aren’t choosing us to win the game.”

It’s only the second time this season the Ravens come in as the underdogs. In Week 2, the Cincinnati Bengals were 3 1/2-point favorites. It’s also the second-largest line in favor of a Ravens opponent with Jackson as the starter.

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Being considered the underdog might come with benefits. It provides a challenge for the Ravens to answer, and it means people might underestimate them. But the defense didn’t exactly agree with Jackson’s feelings about being viewed as the underdog.

“I think people have jobs,” linebacker Roquan Smith said. “Whatever ratings or whatever betting sites there is, I think they have jobs so they have to come up with something. But, at the end of the day, I have the utmost respect and the utmost trust in every single guy I go to war with. And it don’t change this Sunday.”

Safety Kyle Hamilton sees a dichotomy in the label. He doesn’t feel the team is actually the underdog in terms of talent and success. However, he does feel the Ravens have been the underdog in how they’re treated.

“I don’t know what it is, whether it’s the lack of prime-time games that we’ve gotten or whatever, but I think the 11-3s are not created equal right now, in terms of the 49ers versus us,” Hamilton said. “We feel a little disrespected by that.”

Monday provides a perfect opportunity to change the narrative.

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They’re facing one of the best running backs in the league in Christian McCaffrey. They’re taking on MVP candidate Brock Purdy, who’s “making every throw that you can make as a quarterback,” Hamilton said. It’s a chance for the defense to showcase what it believes itself to be: the best unit in the NFL.

And if you’re going to look at the lines, well, Smith knows who he’s putting his money on.

“I’m betting on us 10 out of 10 times, 11 if you want to add one.”

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