The Ravens (7-6) appear to be peaking at the right time as they have won four of their last five heading into Monday night’s game against the Lions (7-6). Detroit has struggled as of late mostly due to turnovers and much like Baltimore are in the mix and need this game to stay in the playoff hunt.
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This game is equally important to both teams and should make for a very entertaining contest on national television. So can the Ravens win their fourth in a row?
Let’s take a look at some of the key match-ups for tomorrow night’s contest:
Ravens Cornerback Jimmy Smith vs. Lions Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson
Johnson is one of the league’s best at his position while Smith has quietly begun to shed his first-round bust status with heady play. He’s only allowed 22 catches in his last 10 games. Even with Smith continuing to improve he’ll be hard pressed to keep Johnson under wraps by himself. The Raven would be smart to double Johnson as well as let Smith shadow Megatron all night regardless of what side he lines up on.
The Lions are an offense that relies on the “big play” and limiting Johnson would be huge in helping Baltimore nab their eight win of the season.
Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco vs. Lions Quarterback Matt Stafford
They won’t play against each other on the field but it seems to me whomever plays better and avoids turnovers wins this game. Both are confident in their abilities and won’t be conservative regardless of the situation.
Flacco has thrown a career high 17 interceptions this season and had to overcome three last week against Minnesota to led the game’s final scoring drive. Stafford has thrown 1 interception in 10 of the Lions last 13 games. While both will be looking to push their offenses down the field the key will be who makes the impact play and avoids costly mistakes.
Ravens Offensive Line vs. Lions Defensive Front Four
Detroit has one of the top rush defenses led by Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley and last week’s embarrassment in Philadelphia shouldn’t make Ravens fans feel any better. They will look to rebound at home to reassert themselves. It could be big for Baltimore if Defensive End Ziggy Ansah is out for this Monday who provided rush off the edge to compliment the interior players for Detroit.
Meanwhile the Ravens continue to average only 3.0 yds. per carry running the football, which is not surprisingly worst in the league. That average isn’t expected to change much due to this game but if the Ravens can at least be able to stay out of third and long situations it will go a long way into helping the Baltimore offense.
Ravens Wide Receivers Torrey Smith/Jacoby Jones vs. Lions Cornerbacks Rashean Mathis/Chris Houston
If the line can keep Flacco upright there will be chances to exploit the Detroit secondary which ranks 25th in the league in pass defense. Currently Houston and the Lions top reserve Corner Darius Slay are listed as doubtful for Monday which means that the Ravens should look to test the Detroit defense deep.
Smith is zeroing in on his first 1,000 yard campaign and need only 37 yards receiving to get there. He’s coming off a game where he only had 1 catch for 11 yards though so you’d hope that he be able to bounce back with a favorable match-up this week.
Ravens Outside Linebacker Elvis Dumervil vs. Lions Offensive Tackle LaAdrian Waddle
Dumervil was out last week due to an ankle injury suffered during the Steelers game on Thanksgiving night. The Ravens could really use a strong performance from their current sack leader if he is able to return. Baltimore hasn’t registered a sack in two games and has only hit the Quarterback five times in that span.
The undrafted Waddle has become a starter due to injury and has played well in his first season. He did suffer an elbow injury that has his status up in the air for Monday but if he doesn’t play they have depth in Jason Fox to step in.