Detroit Needs To Keep Winning If They Want To Play In January.
With the reality of no divisional championship coming to light, the Detroit Lions turn their attention to the NFC Wild Card as their ticket to the big dance. Detroit needs a lot of help around the NFL, but most importantly they need to win games, as losing one could cost them in the end.
This week they look at the Baltimore Ravens, a team that is in the same boat as the Lions, but in a conference where it is anyone’s race to compete in January. The difference between the NFC and AFC this year is huge, as the AFC only has two premier teams, while the NFC has two dominant teams, but many other contenders right in the fight. Detroit can’t afford to slip up this late in the season, and with Baltimore being the only team on their schedule left with a winning record, nobody can stop Detroit but themselves.
Having A Healthy Matt Stafford Is Key
This team can only go as far as Matt Stafford can take them. Stafford has been banged up this season. After the Atlanta game and up until the Steelers showdown, Stafford was clearly dealing with an injury and it affected how he played. He threw three picks in one game in that three-game stretch, tying the other three he has had all season.
When Stafford was limping against Minnesota on Thanksgiving, hopes were in the air on how Stafford would be. He was able to finish the game but was clearly in pain. Luckily, Stafford practiced in a full workload all week and should be good to go as reporters haven’t noticed a limp.
This team doesn’t have any run help, making Stafford the only guy on offense who can create plays and put up points. Stafford being healthy is how this team can win, and losing him could spell disaster for this team.
Graham Glasgow And Company Must Establish The Run
With starting center Travis Swanson out for the game, left guard Graham Glasgow moves to center and Corey Robinson moves in at the guard spot. T.J. Lang is questionable as well with an ankle injury, but no matter if Lang is playing or not, this entire unit needs to wake up.
Starting running back Ameer Abdullah is questionable with a neck injury, so Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner, and Dwyane Washington could see more playing time. No matter who is behind the offensive line, the can only go so far as the line will take them. The number one thing they have to do is protect number nine, but after that, they need to create holes who whatever backs are in.
Baltimore has allowed four less rushing yards than Detroit this year, and they are a top 10 defense, something Detroit will struggle to fight up against. Baltimore also has the number one defense in turnovers with 18 interceptions and eight fumbles for a total of 26 turnovers, while Detroit has 19.
Stafford must be careful with the ball and the running backs have to keep both hands on the football and make sure they don’t cough it up.
Dwight Freeney And Miles Killebrew Must Show Their Worth
Thanksgiving was a time to be thankful and Lions fans were thankful for Dwight Freeney getting signed by the team as he was released by Seattle and Detroit claimed him. While he wasn’t able to play against Minnesota, he will debut against Baltimore. Freeney has been doing well despite being 37 years old, getting three sacks in the four games he appeared in. Detroit needed the help on the defensive line and they got it in this vet. While he won’t jump off the page on the stat sheet and dominate, he will play on big third downs on a limited snap count.
Miles Killebrew will start at safety with Tavon Wilson being done for the year with a shoulder injury. Killebrew has shown flashes of good and bad, with a pick-six against Arizona week one, and the horrible tackling against Chicago, he will have to step up his game starting this week.
Luckily for both players, it is a good way to start by taking on one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Baltimore has 75 more yards than the Cleveland Browns, who are ranked last in the NFL in total offensive yards. Joe Flacco is having a rough year, going 229/351 for 1,875 yards, nine touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Alex Collins has been the main back, getting 630 yards and two touchdowns on 129 carries.
This won’t be an easy win for Detroit. Playing against the Ravens defense is always tough and they are at home, making it another outdoor, away, cold December game. Luckily, it hasn’t been as cold as it usually is this time of year, so weather shouldn’t be a factor.
Detroit’s defense shouldn’t have much of an issue with the Ravens offense overall and that will be the difference is the lack of star players on that Ravens offense. If Flacco was on point and playing well, then this would be different, but this game comes down to Stafford and the offense, which has more weapons and more yards overall this season.
Detroit beats Baltimore 24-14.