This game for the Detroit Lions, for all intents and purposes, is a playoff game. The Bears and Packers both won yesterday, so this race for the NFC North crown is razor close. If the Lions win out, they then guarantee themselves a place in the playoffs. The Lions blew a two touchdown lead in the snow last week to the Eagles, only to go on and lose 34-20. It has been that kind of year for the Lions, as they have had several games within their grasps, but let a few slip away. Look no further than the Buccaneer game a few weeks back. That loss to the Bucs at home may come back to haunt them soon. Going further back to near the start of the season, they let one get away against the Cardinals on the road. This is in a way a playoff game for the Ravens as well, they`ll need to win the rest of the way to secure a spot in the playoffs. It shouldn’t be easy, but the Ravens have faced adversity before and it`s worked for them. Tonight is perhaps one of the biggest Monday night games of the year as these two square off with the season on the line.
I can’t complain about my Sunday in the NFL, going 2-0-1 on my personal picks. It was a nice way to recoup after dropping the Thursday night game, so we’ll be going into MNF with a 2-1-1 record in week 15. Considering that, it is a big game for us tonight. Yes, it is guaranteed that I will have another week not below the .500 line, but a winner is what we want tonight. Let’s get after it to finish week 15 off strong.
Ravens vs. Lions Betting Odds:
Baltimore Ravens +5.5 (-110)
@Detroit Lions -5.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Ravens vs. Lions Pick:
The last time the Lions played on MNF they thoroughly dominated the Chicago Bears. It was a raucous, wild crowd, and one of the loudest Ford Field nights outside of maybe a concert, that the venue has ever witnessed. I fully expect the crowd to bring it again tonight, in a game that is even more important than that Bears’ game was a couple years ago. If I do recall it was earlier in the season, not late like this with the playoffs on the line. The Lions as a team have been fairly difficult to read this season, one week they look like they have the potential to make at a run to the Super Bowl, and then are a team that can’t even beat the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
What it really comes down to with this team is turnovers and penalties. If the turnovers and penalties were limited then I don’t think this game would be a question of them getting in the playoffs, because they may have been their already. Call it poor coaching, an undisciplined roster, or just bad breaks, but I can say that the Lions continually beat themselves and make life in the NFL hard on themselves. The offense is quite scary, in a good way, when they are clicking. Having Calvin Johnson on your roster will always make it look scary. Matthew Stafford is a good quarterback, but I wouldn’t say he is great. I can safely say that Stafford’s numbers are inflated due to Johnson. Nevertheless, they still make a great tandem. Running back Reggie Bush suffered a calf injury in warmups last week in the snow, but reports are indicating he will be playing tonight. Bush is a large reason for why the Lions have the 3rd ranked offense in the league. His presence in the backfield just opens the passing game up that much more for Johnson and company.
The Lions will be facing a Baltimore team that doesn’t have the defense they once did. However, I will say this, the defense is much better than it was last season, the year they won the Super Bowl. They are ranked 9th in the NFL, allowing an average of only 20 points a game. They are 13th in yards allowed per game in the air, a long ways away from where they previously were when they had Ray Lewis and Ed Reed in their prime. The defense hasn’t been the issue this year, the offense has gotten stale, though. Joe Flacco signed that mega-contract in the offseason, but as many people expected, he isn’t exactly backing it up. He has been good, but not for those big dollar signs. The 20th ranked passing game in the league simply isn’t good enough, and if anything will beat the Lions, it is by airing it out successfully. The Ravens have uncharacteristically been unable to run the football, as they are 30th in the NFL in that regard. And yes, Ray Rice is still active and healthy; it just hasn’t been his year. Even though the Lions got gashed on the ground last week, they still are hard to run it up the gut against. Trying to stop a runner in the open field in slippery conditions is extremely difficult, so I’ll give the Lions a free pass there. The rush defense should do a much better job this week around.
Like the Steelers game last night, both visiting teams on SNF and MNF struggle on the road. That was evident last night, as the Steelers, who are experience a down season, had no problem rolling over the Bengals. As I mentioned early in this article, I expect this home crowd for the Lions to be absolutely amped up for this game. The only team the Ravens have beat on the road this season has been the Miami Dolphins! 1-5 on the season for the Ravens away from home. Even in their wins, they needed to scratch and claw to pull it out. I like the Lions’ defensive line to feed off the fans and take advantage of a vulnerable offense line of the Ravens. I think if the oddsmakers thought this was going to be a close game, they would have set this around -3 or -3.5, but what we have is a -6.5 and -7 in some spots. I like the Lions to come out Monday night with around a 10 point win over the defending Super Bowl Champion Ravens.
PICK: Lions -5.5(-110)