Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions
Ford Field – Detroit, Michigan
Monday, December 16, 2013, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Detroit -5 1/2
Current Line: Detroit -7 (+100)
Opening Total: 46 1/2 (over -119)
Current Total: 50
Opening Money Line: Lions -245 / Ravens +205
Current Money Line: Lions -260 / Ravens +220
The Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions are both 7-6 this season and in the heart of the playoff races in both their respective conferences as they meet in the penultimate Monday Night game of the year. Baltimore is a half game behind the 8-6 Miami Dolphins for the last playoff spot in the AFC, but the Ravens beat the Dolphins earlier in the season and hold the tiebreaker. A win against Detroit would also move the Ravens a game behind the 9-5 Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North Division. The Lions are a half game behind the 8-6 Chicago Bears for the NFC North lead, but Detroit holds the tiebreaker by virtue of beating Chicago twice. The 7-6-1 Green Bay Packers are also in the mix for the division.
Baltimore and Detroit have only played each other twice since 2001. Each won handily at home including a 48-3 Baltimore win in 2009 against a 2-14 Lions team. Baltimore hasn’t played in Detroit since 2005.
Baltimore is coached by John Harbaugh. The defending Super Bowl champions have road losses at the Denver Broncos 49-27, Buffalo Bills 23-20, Pittsburgh Steelers 19-16, Cleveland Browns 24-18, and Bears 23-20 in overtime, along with a home loss to the Packers 19-17. The Ravens have home wins over the Browns 14-6, Houston Texans 30-9, Bengals 20-17 in overtime, New York Jets 19-3, Steelers 22-20, and last week against the Minnesota Vikings 29-26, along with a road win at the Dolphins 26-23. Baltimore has won 3 straight games. The Ravens are 6-7 ATS and the total is also 6-7 this season. Baltimore was a 6 point favorite against Minnesota and the total was 41.5.
Minnesota and Baltimore played in a snow storm last week. The snow wasn’t as heavy in Baltimore as it was in Philadelphia for the Lions and Eagles, but it was still pretty nasty. The Vikings took a 12-7 lead early in the fourth but missed a two point conversion.
The game looked like it would go way under the total, but the teams scored 36 points in the last 2:05 of the game. Baltimore took a 15-12 lead with 2:05 left, and converted for two. Minnesota scored on a 41 yard run with 1:27 left to make it 19-15. The Ravens ran back the ensuing kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown to make it 22-19. Minnesota scored with 45 seconds left on a 79 yard touchdown pass to make it 26-22. Baltimore scored the game winning touchdown with 4 seconds left on a 9 yard touchdown pass to make the final 29-26. Minnesota had 379 total yards including 265 passing yards. Baltimore had 325 total yards including 228 passing yards. The Vikings had 6 penalties for 90 yards and the Ravens had 5 for 45 yards. Minnesota had one turnover and Baltimore had three.
Baltimore is outscoring teams 21-20 this season. The Ravens are #25 in scoring and #7 in points allowed. Baltimore is averaging 310.2 yards per game including 227.9 passing and 82.3 rushing yards. The Ravens are #20 in passing, #30 in rushing and #29 in total offense. On defense, the Ravens are allowing 332.8 yards per game including 231.7 passing and 101.2 rushing yards. Baltimore is #7 in rush defense, #13 against the pass and #9 in total defense. The Ravens are -6 in turnovers. Baltimore is 85/221 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 71/208. The Ravens have forced 37 sacks and allowed 41 this season. Baltimore has 3 defensive/special teams touchdowns and has allowed 2 defensive touchdowns. The Ravens average 57 penalty yards per game and opponents average 75.
Quarterback Joe Flacco has completed 59.4% of his passes for 3,238 yards with 18 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, along with 22 carries for 117 yards. He has taken every snap this season except for 6, despite being sacked 41 times. Tyrod Taylor is Flacco’s back-up. Running back Ray Rice has 185 carries for 549 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 48 catches for 255 yards. Bernard Pierce has 130 carries for 356 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 13 catches for 59 yards.
Receiver Torrey Smith has 55 catches, 963 yards and 4 touchdowns. Marlon Brown has 36 catches, 412 yards and 6 touchdowns. Jacoby Jones has 29 catches for 353 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with a kick return for a touchdown. Tight end Dallas Clark has 31 catches for 343 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tandon Doss has 18 catches for 305 yards, along with a punt return for a touchdown. Ed Dickson has 18 catches for 219 yards and a touchdown. Wide receivers Brandon Stokley and Aaron Mellette are both on injured reserve. Five defensive players are listed as questionable or out Monday.
Detroit is coached by Jim Schwartz. The Lions have road losses at the Arizona Cardinals 25-21, Green Bay Packers 22-9, Pittsburgh Steelers 37-27 and last week at the Philadelphia Eagles 34-20, along with home losses to the Cincinnati Bengals 27-24 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-24. Detroit has home wins over the Minnesota Vikings 34-24, Bears 40-32, Cowboys 31-30, and against the Packers 40-10, along with road wins at the Washington Redskins 27-20, Cleveland Browns 31-17, and Bears 21-19. The Lions are 6-7 ATS and the total is 8-5 this season. Detroit was a 2.5 point underdog at Philadelphia and the total was 51.
The Detroit-Philadelphia game was played in a somewhat unexpected blizzard. The weather forecast called for snow by the second half, but it came earlier and in much heavier volume than predicted. The field was so loaded with snow that the two kickers only attempted one extra point and no field goals. Lions’ kicker David Akers had his one extra point attempt blocked. It was the first game in the NFL to have no scoring by a kicker (either on a field goal or extra point) since 1957.
Detroit scored the only 8 points in the first half on a two yard touchdown run, and converted for two. The Lions expanded the lead to 14-0 midway through the third on a 58 yard punt return, but missed the 2 point conversion. The Eagles would pull to within 14-6 by the end of the third, but also missed the two point conversion. Philadelphia tied it up early in the fourth at 14. The Lions would run back the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, but the extra point was blocked making the score 20-14 Detroit. The Eagles would close the game on a 20-0 run to win 34-20. Detroit had 228 total yards including 148 passing yards. Philadelphia had 478 total yards including 299 rushing yards. The Lions had three turnovers and the Eagles had one. Detroit had 9 penalties for 48 yards.
Detroit is outscoring teams 27-25 this season. The Lions are #6 in scoring and #16 in points allowed. Detroit is averaging 409.6 yards per game on offense including 297.2 passing and 112.5 rushing yards. The Lions are #3 in both total and passing offense and #18 in rushing. On defense, Detroit is allowing 355.2 yards per game including 255.8 passing and 99.3 rushing yards. The Lions are #5 in rush defense, #26 against the pass, and #16 in total defense. Detroit is -10 in turnovers. The Lions are 83/190 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 59/170. Detroit has forced 27 sacks and allowed 15 this season. The Lions have 2 defensive and 2 special teams touchdowns and have allowed 3 defensive touchdowns this season. Detroit is averaging 56 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 44.
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford has completed 58.3% of his passes for 3,976 yards with 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, along with 34 carries for 61 yards and two touchdowns. He has been sacked 15 times this season. Running back Reggie Bush has 180 carries for 854 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 45 catches for 448 yards and 2 touchdowns. Bush missed last week after slipping in pre-game warm-ups and aggravating his calf injury. he is probable against Baltimore. Joique Bell has 129 carries for 504 yards and seven touchdown runs, along with 38 catches for 436 yards.
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is widely considered to be the best receiver in the NFL. He is on pace to break his own record for receiving yards in a season that he set last year. “Megatron” has 75 catches for 1,351 yards with 12 touchdowns. Kris Durham has 35 catches for 471 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brandon Pettigrew has 39 catches for 393 yards and 2 touchdowns. Nate Burleson has 28 catches for 334 yards and a touchdown. He has played the last two games after missing two months with a broken arm suffered in a car accident. Tight end Joseph Fauria has 11 catches for 130 yards and 6 touchdowns. Three defensive players are listed on the injury report including two defensive backs.
Baltimore is 5-0-1 ATS against teams with winning home records, 6-2 in Monday games, 18-6-2 against teams with losing records, 7-3 on fieldturf, 2-5 in week 15, and after allowing more than 350 total yards, 1-4 after a straight up win, and after allowing more than 250 passing yards, and 1-8 in December.
Detroit is 5-1 ATS after rushing for less than 90 yards, 3-1-1 in week 15, 5-2 after failing to cover, 2-5-2 after allowing 150 rushing yards or more, 2-5 overall, 3-13 after allowing more than 30 points, and 1-5 in December. The home team has covered the last four games in this series.
While the loser of this game isn’t eliminated from the playoffs they will face an uphill climb with only two games left. The key to this game might be the fearsome Detroit pass rush. If the Lions can get to Flacco and force turnovers, it could be a long day for the Ravens. Baltimore can’t get into a shootout with Detroit. The Ravens must control the clock, but the problem is the running game has been nearly non-existent this season. I like the Lions to win at home but the Ravens keep it inside the number.