The Baltimore Ravens’ season does not get any easier after the Minnesota Vikings last week. The remaining teams the Ravens will play each have a record above .500%.
The Detroit Lions (7-6) are up next, and they are in must-win situation also. The Lions have been very inconsistent this year and are not built to be consistent.
The Lions lost 34-20 against the Philadelphia Eagles last week in the snow, but blew out the Green Bay Packers (no Aaron Rodgers, but still) on Thanksgiving night. The week before the Thanksgiving match-up they had, they lost a close game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 24-21.
The Ravens are not as hot as the Eagles, or in as terrible position as the Packers, and I would say are certainly better than the Buccaneers, so where do they land?
The Ravens have not been getting any breaks in regards to the run game, now facing the Lions who have 6th best mark in the league in run defense. Some of the familiar names are Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh. Both players known for their physical defensive style.
Ray Rice may have a ton of trouble running against them, or maybe their aggressive nature will doom them. Either way, I would not depend on Rice as much this game in regards to his ground game. Rice should still be given touches (carries and receiving the ball) throughout the game.
So, Joe Flacco passing to Rice should be no different. The Lions are 25th in the league relative to passing defense, so look for Flacco to pass to his receivers often despite being in Detroit during a night game.
I recently saw on the Baltimore Ravens’ Facebook page that Flacco is getting back his aerial arsenal of targets. There are no offensive players on the injury report.
The Ravens’ injuries, as of Purple Friday the… well you know, are limited to the defense, most notably Elvis Dumervil (limited practice) and Lardarius Webb (limited practice). Dumervil participated, rather than on Thursday the 12th having not practiced again.
The Ravens are 20th in the league in passing, but with Dennis Pitta back, hopefully that will change in these last three games. Because Pitta is back, the others receivers, Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones, can begin to feel comfortable in their positions with a safety net in Pitta there to save them.
Flacco has 17 interceptions on the year, often the result of trying to force passes because he lost Pitta before the season even started.
Pitta should be that safety net for Flacco to avoid errant throws. Jones and Brown, even Torrey Smith, should be able to feel comfortable going deep without worrying about playing defense on their defender.
In regards to Flacco’s passing game, I have been relatively correct in my predictions, and I hope I am again. He needs to target Pitta and Rice to exploit the Lions mid-field coverage, which should open up the secondary for Smith and Jones.
According to Suh during an interview found on the Detroit Lions’ main website, he seemed to turn comments in regards to Flacco’s deep passing on the defensive front. He made no mention of his team’s secondary and how they can help, but simply he wants to bring down Flacco before he can pass the ball deep.
Players often avoid answering certain questions, but this may show the defensive front of the Lions is not confident in their secondary. If they have to be the defensive focus, it could tire them out quickly.
Johnson has 75 catches for 1351 yards with 12 touchdowns. Is this the kind of guy you want to fuel with those comments? Johnson is a veteran now, and Elam made a rookie mistake. I just hope it doesn’t come back to hurt the Ravens Monday night.
Johnson was not angry about the comment, but I believe he found it humorous, coming back with he’ll show Elam his “old man strength.”
With practically no homework to do, I did some additional homework on the Lions’ offense. The Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford is capable of leaving the pocket and making plays down the field. I have seen that as a problem for the Ravens’ defense all season. They have not been able to stop the mobile quarterback.
Stafford does not run often, so the Ravens can probably rest easy that he won’t run away. But, he can extend plays, so the Ravens’ secondary needs to stay awake and keep up with the Lions’ receivers.
Between the possible explosion of a passing attack from the Ravens, and the same from the Lions, this may be a close game. What the score may be will be decided Monday night. I believe this even despite the cold Detroit night it will be.
To sum up, here are some quick points of my own focus for Monday night.
- Give Rice touches, not carries
- Flacco’s passing attack needs to take advantage of the Lions’ weak secondary
- Flacco needs to avoid errant passes, try to dump the ball off on Rice or Pitta
- Or in other words for two and three on this list, Flacco should read this and listen to me
- Do not let the Lions’ passing game get out of hand
I will miss a good bit of the game on Monday night again, so I hope you believe I am a Ravens’ fan. I will watch an entire game again this season.