Kickoff:Sunday, Dec. 3 at 1 p.m., M&T Bank Stadium
TV: FOX/WBFF-TV (Ch. 15)
TV Crew: Thom Brennaman (play-by-play), Chris Spielman (analyst), Peter Schrager (sideline)
TV Coverage:View Map
Radio: 98 Rock | WBAL-1090 AM | Sports USA Radio
Local Radio Crew: Gerry Sandusky (play-by-play), Stan White (analyst), Justin Forsett (analyst)
National Radio Crew: Josh Appel (play-by-play), Hank Bauer (analyst)
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Jersey Color: Purple
Referee Crew: Jerome Boger
The Ravens currently hold the sixth and final AFC playoff spot, but any slip-up could have them on the outside looking in. The Buffalo Bills also sit at 6-5, and five-win teams such as the San Diego Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals are lurking. Baltimore has five games left and has to win three to get to 9-7, which may be good enough in the AFC. A win against the Lions would give them some breathing room down the stretch. A loss makes it much tighter.
The last time the Ravens met the NFC North Lions was in 2013 on Monday Night Football in Detroit. Kicker Justin Tucker scored all of Baltimore's 18 points with six field goals, including a game-winning 61-yard boot with under a minute left. The Ravens own a 3-1 overall record against the Lions and beat them 48-3 in their last meeting at M&T Bank Stadium in 2009.
A Major Test for the Ravens DefenseThe Ravens' six wins this season have come against Cincinnati's Andy Dalton, Cleveland's DeShone Kizer, Oakland's EJ Manuel, Miami's Matt Moore, Green Bay's Brett Hundley and Houston's Tom Savage. None of those quarterbacks measure up to Detroit's Matthew Stafford, who is the highest-paid player in football. Stafford ranks fifth in the NFL in passing yards (3,010) and totally controls the Lions' prolific passing attack. The Ravens' lockdown defense will get a chance to prove it can still carry the team, even when facing a top-flight offense.
Baltimore's Offensive Improvement
How much can the Ravens' 31st-ranked offense (32nd in passing offense) improve? Will the Ravens' "let it loose" as quarterback Joe Flacco suggested they should following the unit's lackluster performance against the Texans on Monday Night Football? While major changes aren't expected, the Ravens are plugging at improving an offense that everybody agrees must play better for Baltimore to reach their ultimate goal. Against a shaky Lions defense ranked 26th overall, the Ravens have a shot to break out.
A Meeting of Many Connections
While former Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata won't suit up because of an elbow injury, there are still a lot of connections between these two teams. Jim Caldwell, who was the Ravens'*offensive coordinator when they won Super Bowl XLVII, is the Lions' *head coach, and Teryl Austin, who was the secondary coach that same year, is Detroit's defensive coordinator. The Lions outbid the Ravens for right tackle Rick Wagner this offseason. Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was the Lions' head coach for two years (2001-2002).
Matchups to Watch
CBs Jimmy Smith & Brandon Carr vs. WRs Marvin Jones Jr. & Golden Tate
The Ravens cornerbacks had a tough time putting a lid on Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who put up seven catches for 125 yards last week. Jones and Tate aren't at Hopkins' level, but both are in the top 20 of receiving yards this season. Jones is a deep speed threat who can break a big play at any time while Tate is a monster after the catch. The variety will test Baltimore's corners, and don't be surprised if rookie Marlon Humphrey is called into action more.
LT Ronnie Stanley vs. DE Ezekiel Ansah
The Ravens offense has a much better chance at success if Flacco has time to throw. Ansah is the biggest impediment to that. In the mold of athletically dominant Jadeveon Clowney from a week ago, Ansah has five sacks and a forced fumble this year. The Ravens adjusted well to early pressure from Clowney, and Stanley was a big part of containing him. Baltimore's left tackle will have his hands full again this week.
OLB Matthew Judon vs. RT Rick Wagner
Vetearn Terrell Suggs stole the show on Monday Night Football with two sacks, including a sack-strip. But Judon was the hot name before that and has five sacks on the season. He'll go up against Wagner, a familiar foe he used to battle during practices at the Under Armour Performance Center. Wagner has become one of the league's premier right tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.