It’s a key match-up for both the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens, the defending Super Bowl champions. Both teams are 7-6 and fighting for playoff spots. Both are trending in different directions. The Lions have lost three of four while the Ravens have won three straight.
Here are five keys for the Lions to emerge as the winner on Monday night:
1. Hold onto the ball.
2. It’s not the Ravens’ run game that will cost the Lions, it’s their deep passing game that will test the secondary which could be without cornerbacks Chris Houston and Darius Slay. The Ravens are second in the NFL with passes of more than 40 yards with 13. This has been the Lions’ bugaboo this season — allowing too many deep passes.
3. That said, the Lions must tighten up and stop the run. Luckily for Detroit the Ravens don’t have a running back with the talent of LeSean McCoy but Ray Rice is a threat. The Lions’ missed tackles last week at Philadelphia were costly.
4. Matthew Stafford didn’t throw an interception Sunday after 10 in the previous five games, but he had fumble-itis. Most of that could be blamed on the snowy conditions. He has to be on his best game from the get-go.
5. Get on the scoreboard early offensively and the defense must come out pounding to get the crowd into it. In the last Monday night game at Ford Field, the Bears were called for nine false start penalties which resulted in a game ball for the fans. The fans will only be loud if they really have something to cheer about. Just saying.
Prediction: Lions 24, Ravens 21