Taylor Decker & Rick Wagner’s Play Will Be Crucial For A Lions Victory Over Baltimore

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An In-Depth Preview Of The Detroit Lions Week Thirteen Matchup Against The Baltimore Ravens.

Ravens Hit Hot Streak Late In 2017 Season

This Baltimore Ravens matchup looked really good on paper for the Detroit Lions about five weeks ago. However the Ravens have gone on a bit of a tear since then, winning three of their last four games. Now both the Ravens and Lions will host 6-5 records heading into the matchup.

The Baltimore defense is what has gotten them to this point, pitching shutouts against the Dolphins and Packers the past few weeks. Even with the slower start to the season, they are ranked the 2nd best defense in points allowed per game in the NFL. Their linebackers have been playing exceptional as of late, which has been helping the secondary out at well forcing pressure and errant throws. This has helped the unit allow just under 190 passing yards per game, also 2nd in the league.

The Baltimore offense has been another story however. In spite of their defense setting them up quite well, the offense has really struggled to put together consistent games. While they do have the 10th best rushing attack in the league, they are the bottom team in the league in terms of passing yardage. This could be the break the Lions defense needs after a tough couple of weeks lately.

Matchups To Watch For In Baltimore

Rick Wagner vs Matt Judon

Baltimore linebacker Matt Judon is lesser known name in the league, but one to watch in this game. He has flashing the athleticism and ability to get to the quarterback like he did in college at Grand Valley State University. Judon is very quick, which helps him utilize a solid spin move and bends the edge well, making him a handful to stop in pass protection at times.

Lions tackle Rick Wagner has looked quite good in pass protection this year. His length and strength really help him prevent edge rushers like Judon from bending the edge. But where Wagner has struggled is against quicker edge players who cross his face, something his opponent this week likes to do. The Baltimore pass defense is very tough to throw on and it is on the offensive line to give quarterback Matthew Stafford enough time to find his receivers open.

Taylor Decker vs Terrell Suggs

On the other side of the line is the second matchup to watch for with Lions tackle Taylor Decker facing off against Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. The Ravens defense has been their life blood throughout their hot streak and the 35-year old linebacker has been a big factor in that. He has 9.5 sacks on the year with five of them coming in the past three weeks, against two of the top pass blocking tackles in the NFL in Davis Bahktiari and Taylor Lewan. Suggs also has been knocked the ball in each of his last two games, turning sacks into turnovers for his defense.

This could be troubling as Taylor Decker has yet to look 100 percent following his return from injured reserved two weeks ago. He has been picking up stunts well in pass protection and looks good in space in the running game. But has yet to show the same power to hold the edge as last year. Suggs primary physical trait is his strength, so the matchup is not ideal. If Decker can keep the veteran linebacker off Matthew Stafford, the Lions offense should be in a good position to win.

Marvin Jones vs Jimmy Smith

Lions receiver Marvin Jones has been making many plays this season against tight man coverage, even though physical corners have given him trouble in the past. Last week Jones beat someone of a similar profile to Baltimore’s Jimmy Smith against the Vikings in Xavier Rhodes. This weeks matchup could be even tougher however as Smith has been having a pro-bowl caliber season for the Ravens.

His size and ball skills have always been there, but now Smith is putting himself in better positions to make plays on the ball and has benefited from Judon and Suggs pressure. But if the Lions tackles can keep their quarterback clean and give him a pocket to step into, he will likely be targeting Marvin Jones deep down the field to take advantage of his great body control and ball skills.

Prediction: Lions Win 21-20

The Ravens defense has played really good lately, but they have not done it against a quarterback like Matthew Stafford. I think the Lions offensive line gives him enough time to get a couple scores. As bad as the Lions defense has looked at times, this Baltimore passing attack is rough. If the Lions get ahead early, I see the Ravens having a hard time coming back.

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