Monday, December 16th, 2013 TV: ESPN 8:30 EDT
This AFC vs. NFC Monday Night affair will be critical both teams in this matchup. While both teams are in a position to make the playoffs, the Lions have several teams on their heels in the NFC North, and the Ravens led San Diego and New York by just one game for the last AFC wild-card.
Baltimore is not alone with their 7-6 record in for the last spot, but are tied with Miami, only holding the edge via tiebreaker. They are lucky to not have their seventh loss after last week’s wild win against the Vikings. Both teams combined for 36 points in the final 3 minutes in a snow game, with the Ravens winning with just four seconds left on a Joe Flacco to Marlon Brown touchdown, 29-26.
It is the Ravens third straight win on the road, but Baltimore is just 1-5 away from home this year. They have been a middle of the road team for much of the season, but their running game has been terrible all-season long. Ray Rice was hobbled by injury earlier in the season, but even healthy has been ineffective. Defensively, Baltimore has been stout against the run, but the play of their secondary leaves a lot to be desired.
Despite blowing out Green Bay 40-10 on Thanksgiving, the Lions have lost three out of their last four games, including last week’s game in Philadelphia. This one was also a snowy affair, and Detroit was uncharacteristically were beaten on the ground for large numbers, a 200 plus yard performance from LeSean McCoy. They gave 28 points in the final quarter of a 34-20 loss that dropped them to 7-6.
That is still sturdy enough for a divisional lead, but like Baltimore, their lead is razor thin. The Bears have an identical record at 7-6, but the Lions hold the tiebreaker by winning both head-to-head matchups against Chicago.
Detroit has an array of weapons and one of the highest scoring offenses in the league, but their defense is a bottom five unit against opposing passing attacks. To make matters worse, top cornerback Chris Houston is doubtful for tomorrow’s game, making their pass defense even more vulnerable. Against the run, the unit is among one of the league’s best, despite last week’s performance. They should rebound well this week against the Ravens’ anemic rushing attack.
There has been little movement on this game with action being close to split. The total is at 48.5 at just about every site. The same can be said for the point spread at Detroit -6.
There is little in the Ravens favor heading into this game, other than the fact that Lions defense has been horrible as of late. However, their road woes, along with an inept running game make matters worse. They will not be able to keep the ball out of the hands of the Detroit offense, which is a pass happy unit and one of the most dynamic in the league.
The Lions also throw the ball as much as any team in the league and Reggie Bush is still nursing an injury. This means more deep balls for Calvin Johnson, the best receiver in the game. The Ravens’ strength, stopping the run is not going to stop the Lions from scoring. On paper, this is a devastating matchup for the Ravens.
Couple all that with the Lions impressive 4-2 home record and their ability to put up gargantuan offense numbers in the safe confines of Ford Field, and it could be a long night for Baltimore.
Pick: Lions -6 with Bovada.lv