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 MNF Game Day Thread: Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions 
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Post MNF Game Day Thread: Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions
Which Lions team shows up tonight? Me thinks it better be the one with a chip on its shoulder, if they want to even think about playoffs:
PFT wrote:
The NFC North is the NFL’s only three-team race, with the Lions, Bears and Packers all alive. Chicago improved to 8-6 and took a half-game lead by beating Cleveland on Sunday, but the Lions can get to 8-6 with a Monday night win over Baltimore, and the Lions own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bears. The Packers’ comeback at Dallas kept their playoff hopes alive. If the Lions win out, they win the NFC North. If the Lions slip up and the Packers and Bears both win next week, the NFC North will come down to the Week 17 Packers-Bears game. I expect Detroit to win out and win the division, but this one is very, very close.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/20 ... e-stretch/

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December 16th, 2013, 10:11 am
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Post Re: MNF Game Day Thread: Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions
I'm looking for a Lions blowout victory. Really. They're that inconsistent.


December 16th, 2013, 10:21 am
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Post Re: MNF Game Day Thread: Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions
ESPN wrote:
Four keys for Detroit vs. Baltimore
December, 16, 2013
By Michael Rothstein | ESPN.com

In many ways, Monday night on national television could have looked a lot different for the Detroit Lions. There could have been a chance the Lions could have clinched the division against the Baltimore Ravens. But with everything set up well for Detroit in the division, the Lions could not close it out.

They let the Chicago Bears hang around. Let the Green Bay Packers hang around. So now the Lions are in this other situation: Win to hold on to the lead in the division.

"It's there for the taking, but we have to go out and take it," Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. "That starts with the Ravens on Monday night. Last time we left Ford Field, we were feeling really good about ourselves with the win over Green Bay on Thanksgiving.

"We have to get that feeling back. We know our crowd will make a difference for us. I think you'll see that from our players."

Detroit has to. Its season might depend on it. So how do the Lions accomplish this? Here are the four keys.

Deal with the pressure: The Lions spent all week saying essentially different variations of the playoffs are starting now. Well, Detroit got what it wanted. With Chicago winning on the road at Cleveland, the Lions need to beat Baltimore to keep pace with the Bears in the NFC North and hold on to a playoff spot for the time being. And if the Lions lose Monday, then they drop to third in the division.

This is the way it is going to be for Detroit the rest of the season and the Lions, if they are going to be a playoff team like they say they want to be, have to be able to deal with it. The Lions have vacillated between being very good and very bad in games like this over the course of this season.

Pressure Flacco: Joe Flacco likes to find receivers downfield when he can and is eighth in the NFL in air yards per attempt. Considering Detroit's depleted cornerback situation -- it'd be surprising if Chris Houston or Darius Slay played Monday night -- the Lions front four needs to be able to reach Flacco at the rate they reached Matt Flynn on Thanksgiving in order to cause disruptions in the passing game. Detroit did this to Flynn by taking away his first read, but the Lions also had a healthy-enough secondary then. They don't now, so Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Ziggy Ansah and Willie Young need to get to Flacco early.

Stop the turnovers: This is becoming a weekly topic, but considering the Lions' lack of margin for error both in games and in the season at this point, they need to have a game where they are not careless with the ball. Detroit hasn't had a game without a turnover since facing Cincinnati in October and haven't had a game with less than three turnovers since the win over Chicago in Week 10.

Baltimore has only picked off nine passes this season, so the Ravens aren't exactly an opportunistic defense. Detroit can't have that switch on Monday night.

Give help on the outside: Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham and Schwartz both expressed confidence in Jonte Green and Chris Greenwood, the two likely candidates to line up opposite Rashean Mathis at cornerback. The Lions have to trust Mathis will be able to hang with Torrey Smith, especially since Green or Greenwood might need help with Marlon Brown (36 catches, 412 yards, six touchdowns) on the other side. Bill Bentley or Don Carey will also have a difficult assignment with speedster Jacoby Jones in the slot, but the matchup between Green/Greenwood and Brown could be a big factor Monday.

http://espn.go.com/blog/detroit-lions/p ... -baltimore

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December 16th, 2013, 10:22 am
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Post Re: MNF Game Day Thread: Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions
Also bear in mind the Ravens 1-5 on the road this season.


December 16th, 2013, 10:22 am
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Post Re: MNF Game Day Thread: Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions
Blueskies wrote:
I'm looking for a Lions blowout victory. Really. They're that inconsistent.
If its a blowout, I don't think it will be Detroit doing it.... The Lions' starting CBs are out, looks like Green & Greenwood...not too confident they'll handle Jacoby Jones & Torrey Smith

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December 16th, 2013, 10:24 am
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Post Re: MNF Game Day Thread: Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions
Freep wrote:
Drew Sharp: Lions must show teeth tonight to seize NFC North
December 16, 2013

NFL law demands that somebody claim this year’s NFC North championship, although it’s too bad commissioner Roger Goodell couldn’t place the title in escrow. The crown’s diminished with an ugly blemish attached: The loss of MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers for a minimum of six games with a broken collarbone created opportunities that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.

The Lions would vociferously argue differently. But their failure to pull away from a divisional pack over the past month only intensifies the sentiment that the North will be a title dispensed rather than taken.

The inexplicable now borders on the incredible.

It wasn’t stunning enough that Chicago overcame two turnovers returned for touchdowns against Cleveland, but Green Bay recovered from a 23-point halftime deficit against the ever-charitable Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, with substitute quarterback Matt Flynn driving the Packers for five second-half touchdowns on five possessions.

And what should’ve been a nationally televised divisional coronation tonight for the Lions becomes a desperate fight for playoff contention survival.

The Lions must beat the Ravens to keep pace with the first-place Bears and dangerously close Packers. They must run the table and finally win a playoff game to legitimize their season.

Two double-digit regular-season win totals in the last three years, and a playoff victory for only the second time in the last 57 years, would erase any asterisk. It would reflect a transcendent shift for a franchise that still frustratingly embodies NFL mediocrity — mind-blowing one week, mind-numbing the next.

The Lions don’t know what kind of team they are, making it more difficult for them to appreciate the kind of team they need to be with time and excuses quickly running out.

Reggie Bush said he believes the Lions are hosting a playoff game tonight, hoping that will inspire the urgency that has eluded them in the second half of the season. A Lions win won’t offer any added breathing room, but a loss drops them to third place in the NFC North — despite possessing every physical and scheduling advantage over the past month.

Understandably, coach Jim Schwartz can’t obsess over the blown opportunities, losing three of their last four games. He must trumpet the virtue of being a survivor, being one of the last six standing in the NFC on the evening of Dec. 29, regardless of how bloodied and battered they look.

“The competitor in everybody wants to be in this situation,” Schwartz said following Saturday’s practice. “Throw whatever sports cliché you want at it. When it’s crunch time. It’s time to go deliver. ... It’s there for the taking. But we have to go out there and take it.”

There’s another football platitude: Just get into the playoffs any way you can and anything can happen.

The Lions remain that perplexing conundrum. The country will come away impressed tonight with the tools at their disposal. “Old Man” Calvin Johnson will teach Baltimore rookie safety Matt Elam that children are to be seen and not heard. Insulated from the wintry conditions outside this week, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley will relentlessly harass quarterback Joe Flacco into mistakes.

Yet the nation will wonder — once again — why a potentially dominating team still couldn’t dominate a division watered down specifically for them?

Contact Drew Sharp: dsharp@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @drewsharp.

http://www.freep.com/article/20131216/C ... -NFC-North

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December 16th, 2013, 10:56 am
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Post Re: MNF Game Day Thread: Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions
MLive wrote:
Detroit Lions matchup: Be wary of Baltimore Ravens' deep-passing attack
By Justin Rogers | jrogers@mlive.com
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on December 16, 2013 at 6:45 AM

A look at the matchups for the Detroit Lions' Monday night showdown vs. Baltimore:

Detroit Lions offense vs. Baltimore Ravens defense
As long as wide receiver Calvin Johnson is active, the Lions field one of the best offenses in the NFL. But the Ravens counter with an assignment-sound, physical defense, capable of holding Detroit in check.

Opponents are averaging just 20.1 points against the Ravens this season, which ranks eighth in the NFL. Not bad, considering the Denver Broncos hung 49 on them in the season-opener.

Baltimore is eighth against the run and 14th against the pass, another stat inflated by the loss to the Broncos. It will be tough sledding for Detroit running backs Reggie Bush (if he plays) and Joique Bell against Baltimore's 3-4 front, which could leave the Lions' hopes resting on the arm of quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Detroit's potent red zone offense (61.2 percent touchdown rate) will also be challenged by a defense that clamps down inside the 20. The Ravens allow a touchdown less than 40 percent of the time.

Edge: Lions

Detroit Lions defense vs. Baltimore Ravens offense

The Lions struggled in the snowy conditions in Philadelphia, but expect the run defense to re-establish itself against the Ravens' anemic ground game. Ray Rice has been one of the league's best backs the past several seasons, but he's averaging just 3.0 yards per carry this year.

Where Baltimore remains potent is with the deep ball. The Ravens have tallied 13 pass plays of 40 or more yards, the second most in the NFL. The Lions have allowed 14 such plays, the second worst in the league.

By taking so many deep shots, the Ravens expose quarterback Joe Flacco to more hits. He's been sacked 41 times this season.

The difference might be in the red zone, where the Ravens haven't been particularly efficient, but the Lions have been stout -- allowing touchdowns on just 40 percent of opponents' trips.

Edge: Lions

Special Teams

Jeremy Ross has emerged as a reliable, possibly even electric return man for the Lions. But Tandon Doss has been a dynamite option for the Ravens all season, averaging a league-leading 15.6 yards on punts. On kickoffs, Baltimore's Jacoby Jones ranks third in the NFL with a 28.7-yard average.

Beyond the return game, the Ravens have Justin Tucker, the NFL's best kicker. In his second season after going undrafted out of the University of Texas, he's made 27 consecutive field goal attempts and converted a staggering 92.2 percent in his short career.

Edge: Ravens

Coaching

In five seasons with the Ravens, John Harbaugh has gone to the postseason and won at least one playoff game each year. That includes a Super Bowl victory last season.

Even with a significant roster turnover this year, that saw the departure of key veterans Ray Lewis, Anquan Boldin, Paul Kruger and Ed Reed, Harbaugh still has Baltimore on track to return to the postseason.

In five seasons with the Lions, Jim Schwartz is 29-48 with one playoff appearance and zero postseason wins. To be fair, he took over an inferior roster, but that excuse is not longer applicable.

Edge: Ravens

Intangibles

The fans have an opportunity to play a significant role in this contest. The last time the Lions hosted a game on Monday night, the raucous Ford Field crowd baited the Chicago Bears into nine false start penalties.

That doesn't bode well for the Ravens, who lead the league in false starts coming into the contest. Those five-yard infractions can be devastating against a defense that ranks first in the NFL on third down.

Additionally, we can't ignore Ravens safety Matt Elam's comments from earlier in the week. Calvin Johnson is already the NFL's most-talented receiver, but he has shown a tendency to respond in a big way if he's ever challenged by an opponent. It could be an ugly day for Baltimore's secondary.

Edge: Lions

Predictions
Justin Rogers: Lions 34, Ravens 20 -- Backs against the wall (again) and a prime-time game? This is when the Lions shine. The Ravens aren't as good as their record suggests, so I'm going to go out on a limb and predict a double-digit victory for Detroit.

Kyle Meinke: Lions 33, Ravens 23 -- The Lions are indoors, have Reggie Bush back and will have a deafening crowd behind them. Plus, they're angry, and Baltimore won't like them when they're angry. Detroit has a greater chance of routing Baltimore than it does of actually losing.

http://www.mlive.com/lions/index.ssf/20 ... timor.html

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December 16th, 2013, 11:05 am
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Post Re: MNF Game Day Thread: Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions
Repost to further illustrate the importance of this game:
TheRealWags wrote:
Quote:
Note: I think the last few SB winners have faced and beaten the previous years' SB winner...meaning that if you want to know who will win the Super Bowl in Feb, just look at the Ravens schedule and see who beat them....
I went back 5 years and the reigning SB Champ was indeed beaten by the next one.

Which means, so far, the next SB Champ is one of these teams:
Denver Broncos
Buffalo Bills
Green Bay Packers
Pittsburgh Steelers
Cleveland Browns
Chicago Bears

Hopefully Detroit will add their name to that list on Sunday...

:idea: :arrow:

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December 16th, 2013, 11:16 am
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Post Re: MNF Game Day Thread: Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions
TheRealWags wrote:
Repost to further illustrate the importance of this game:
TheRealWags wrote:
Quote:
Note: I think the last few SB winners have faced and beaten the previous years' SB winner...meaning that if you want to know who will win the Super Bowl in Feb, just look at the Ravens schedule and see who beat them....
I went back 5 years and the reigning SB Champ was indeed beaten by the next one.

Which means, so far, the next SB Champ is one of these teams:
Denver Broncos
Buffalo Bills
Green Bay Packers
Pittsburgh Steelers
Cleveland Browns
Chicago Bears

Hopefully Detroit will add their name to that list on Sunday...

:idea: :arrow:


And if the Lions win out, you can cross the Bears, Packers, Browns, Bills, and Steelers off that list since they won't be making the playoffs.

That would leave just the Broncos and Lions. Might make for a good SB match up. LOL.


December 16th, 2013, 11:40 am
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Post Re: MNF Game Day Thread: Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions
BillySims wrote:
TheRealWags wrote:
Repost to further illustrate the importance of this game:
TheRealWags wrote:
Quote:
Note: I think the last few SB winners have faced and beaten the previous years' SB winner...meaning that if you want to know who will win the Super Bowl in Feb, just look at the Ravens schedule and see who beat them....
I went back 5 years and the reigning SB Champ was indeed beaten by the next one.

Which means, so far, the next SB Champ is one of these teams:
Denver Broncos
Buffalo Bills
Green Bay Packers
Pittsburgh Steelers
Cleveland Browns
Chicago Bears

Hopefully Detroit will add their name to that list on Sunday...

:idea: :arrow:
And if the Lions win out, you can cross the Bears, Packers, Browns, Bills, and Steelers off that list since they won't be making the playoffs.

That would leave just the Broncos and Lions. Might make for a good SB match up. LOL.
Sounds good to me! 8) :wink: :idea: :arrow:

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December 16th, 2013, 2:06 pm
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Post Re: MNF Game Day Thread: Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions
A little good news:
PFT wrote:
Report: Lions expect Reggie Bush to take on regular workload
Posted by Josh Alper on December 16, 2013, 11:57 AM EST

The Lions close out Week 15 with a Monday night matchup against the Ravens and the expectation is that running back Reggie Bush will be a big part of their attempt to emerge with a win.

Bush was listed as questionable on the team’s final injury report last week and missed the Week 14 loss to the Eagles after aggravating a calf injury before the game, but it seems that he’s healed up well enough to get back on the field. After Bush returned to practice late in the week, word out of Detroit was that he should be in the lineup and Adam Schefter added to those reports on ESPN on Monday morning.

Schefter reported that the team expects Bush to handle his normal workload against Baltimore. Bush has averaged just under 20.5 touches a game this season, so a return to his usual role should mean that we get to hear Jon Gruden refer to him as “this guy” or “that guy” fairly often.

The Lions aren’t expected to have cornerbacks Chris Houston or Darius Slay on Monday night and defensive end Ziggy Ansah is questionable with a shoulder injury, so anything Bush and Joique Bell can do to keep the clock moving and the ball in Detroit’s hands should be welcomed by a shorthanded defense.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/20 ... -workload/

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December 16th, 2013, 2:08 pm
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Post Re: MNF Game Day Thread: Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions
ESPN wrote:
Warford is standing out on Lions' O-line
December, 16, 2013
By Michael Rothstein | ESPN.com

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Larry Warford would be in his hotel room the night before games the first month of this season, sick to his stomach. Not physically ill and not actually throwing up, but being a rookie, the nerves were strong.

"What if I mess up?" he would think to himself. "What if I allow a sack? What if I blow an assignment?" These thoughts would run through his head as he pondered how he would protect Matthew Stafford and open holes for the Detroit Lions' running backs.

Then he'd wake up the next morning and play. And he'd look like nothing bothered him at all. This was his learning process, how he slowly began to gain comfort throughout the season, throughout his rookie year in which he went from draft pick to starter to standout in a handful of months.

“I could feel it changing,” Warford said. “The stress going into games wasn't nearly as bad as it had been when I first got there.”

Now, there is no stress at all. The thoughts have deviated from worrying about messing up to making sure he is prepared with all of his assignments. It is, in many ways, a relaxing and comfortable period for him now, and it has showed. On one of the best -- and most overlooked -- offensive lines in football, the rookie is having the best season.

According to Pro Football Focus, Warford has not allowed a sack in any of his 946 snaps this season. He's allowed Detroit's quarterbacks to be hit a total of four times and hurried nine times. All of those are numbers that are at a Pro Bowl level for the player who was beginning to prepare for the NFL draft at this point last year. PFF rates him as the fourth-best guard in the NFL and the second-best right guard behind Denver's Louis Vasquez.

He's done all this because of his consistency; something that was somewhat unexpected. Part of his success comes from how he plays. He is capable at both run and pass blocking, so there isn't a true weakness in his game that has been exploited yet. He's also been healthy, listed on the injury report less than a handful of times all season.

And the way he plays -- and prepares -- changed him from a rookie to a seasoned player before his first season even concluded.

“I never really looked at him as a rookie who was going to have growing pains,” center Dominic Raiola said.

Warford's play has been noticed, even if it isn't reflected in Pro Bowl voting, where he is not among the top 10 guards. ESPN analyst Jon Gruden singled him out over the weekend as one of the more noticeable additions to the Lions, calling him an “eye-opener” as a rookie.

And although it is unlikely he will win the NFL's offensive rookie of the year award -- no offensive lineman has ever won the award -- he probably should be in the conversation for it.

Not that it matters to Warford at all. He can't be focused on that, mostly because he said if he starts to look at those types of accolades, it might change how he has treated this entire season.

He called it “cool,” but that was about it. His expectations for this season never changed. Not when he was drafted. Not when he was competing for and then won the right guard job in training camp, and not through every start since.

“Why fix what's not broken, you know?” Warford said. “That's what got me better throughout training camp. I was struggling and it kept building on the foundation that my coaches laid out for me, and that worked.

“It got me the starting job. It's an ongoing process.”

It is a process that is not typical for rookies. Even within his own team. Most of Detroit's other rookies -- a deep and talented class -- either didn't win jobs out of camp or have struggled with inconsistency or injuries.

Then there's Warford. The same every week.

“It's not surprising. It's just unusual for a guy, and the opportunity was there early for him, but it's unusual for a guy to play as consistent as he has been early in his career,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “I credit him. I credit his coaches, with Jeremiah [Washburn] and [Terry Heffernan], we've done a good job of putting some young guys out there.

“We changed the makeup of our line with some new players. We're very young up front, but they aren't playing like a young group.”

No, they aren't. That's probably a good thing for the Lions, because with three of the five starters less than two seasons into their NFL careers, there is both room to grow and the chance they will be together for a long time.

That could be led by Warford, who knows that as consistent as he's been, he still has a ways to go. Just consider how far he has come in less than a season. Starting with his confidence, he has changed a lot.

“It's not even close, man,” Warford said. “It's a completely different person.”

Not really. He's just believing in himself more and more.

http://espn.go.com/blog/detroit-lions/p ... ons-o-line

ESPN wrote:
Matchups to watch: Ravens at Lions
December, 16, 2013
By Doug Clawson | ESPN.com

The winner of tonight’s game can solidify their grasp on a playoff spot, and the loser could potentially be on the outside looking in. Here are the key matchups to watch entering the Week 15 edition of Monday Night Football between the Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions.
Quote:
Lowest Red Zone TD Pct Allowed
This Season
Ravens 39.4%
Panthers 39.4%
Lions 40.0%
Seahawks 40.0%

Matthew Stafford vs Joe Flacco in red zone
Joe Flacco completed 4-of-5 red zone passes last week for three touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown pass with the perfect touch to Marlon Brown. Getting Dennis Pitta back gives Flacco another red zone weapon.

Pitta caught a touchdown on fourth-and-goal last week, and has caught 75.0 percent of his red zone targets dating back to last season, including the playoffs. Overall, Flacco ranks in the top 10 in touchdown passes (16) and Total QBR (78.8) inside the 20 yard line this year.

On the other side, Matthew Stafford is tied for second in the NFL with 19 red zone touchdowns and tied for the fifth-best Total QBR (88.9). Stafford has thrown 16 of those 19 touchdowns to the collection of Kris Durham (6’6”), Joseph Fauria (6’7”), Brandon Pettigrew (6’5”) and Calvin Johnson (6’5”).

Both quarterbacks will be challenged by stingy red zone defenses. The Ravens defense has allowed 13 red zone touchdowns in 33 drives this season (39.4 percent), tied for the best efficiency in the NFL with the Panthers. The Lions are tied for third in red zone efficiency.

Quote:
Calvin Johnson Receiving
This Season
Inside Numbers Outside Numbers
Rec pct* 62.6% 40.0%
Yards 1,100 248
Yds per rec 19.3 13.8
*Receptions/Targets
Calvin Johnson vs Ravens secondary
Calvin Johnson has seven red zone touchdowns this season (tied for fifth in the NFL), but he will be the Ravens biggest concern all over the field.

Megatron ranks second in the NFL with 1,348 receiving yards this season, and 1,100 of those yards (roughly 82 percent) have come inside the painted field numbers.

The league average for percentage of receiving yardage inside the field numbers is roughly 60. Besides Johnson, no receiver has more than 737 yards inside the numbers.

A defense that has moved on this season without future hall-of-famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed roaming the middle will have a tall order stopping Johnson. He leads the NFL in yards after contact on receptions (208 yards) and we have seen him make highlight reel catches on jump balls in the middle of several defenders against the Bengals and Cowboys this season.

Which team makes fewer mistakes?
Joe Flacco is tied for fourth in the NFL with 19 turnovers this season, including 17 interceptions, 11 of which have come on the road. The Ravens haven’t been able make up for those, they rank 25th in the NFL with a -5 turnover margin, including -6 on the road (Ravens 1-5 on road this season).

The Lions have beat themselves during the last 4 games by committing 15 turnovers, most in the NFL (13 turnovers in first 9 games). Eight of the 15 turnovers have come within their opponent’s 30 yard-line, costing the team 26.4 expected points. Matthew Stafford leads the team and NFL with nine turnovers during that span (Lions 1-3 in last four games)

http://espn.go.com/blog/statsinfo/post/ ... s-at-lions

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December 16th, 2013, 2:17 pm
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Post Re: MNF Game Day Thread: Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions
I'm gonna be there tonight and I am so ****ing pumped.


December 16th, 2013, 4:22 pm
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Post Re: MNF Game Day Thread: Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions
Blueskies wrote:
I'm gonna be there tonight and I am so ****ing pumped.
Holding up any signs? Not that we'll be able to see you...but then again you never know! :cheers:

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December 16th, 2013, 4:26 pm
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Post Re: MNF Game Day Thread: Baltimore Ravens vs Detroit Lions
I'd just like to thank the Browns and Cowboys for doing their best Lions impression in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and thus making this game even more important.


December 16th, 2013, 4:51 pm
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