One of the NFL’s most immovable objects is squarely in the Detroit Lions’ path as they try to get their playoff run back on track after one of the most disappointing losses of the season.
The Baltimore Ravens look as strong and tough as ever, and the fact that they’re in a playoff race themselves makes Sunday’s road game at M&T Bank Stadium all the more challenging for the Lions.
Both teams have 6-5 won-loss records, but their standing is different in their respective playoff races.
The Ravens currently are the sixth seed in the AFC and in position for the No. 2 wild card berth.
The Lions are the eighth seed in the NFC, with the Falcons and Seahawks both ahead of them – in that order based on tiebreakers — at 7-4.
For the Lions, their formula with five games left boils down to win – and keep winning. Their situation became more critical because of a loss to the Vikings on Thanksgiving Day.
“Obviously, it’s very important for us to get going,” said Lions wide receiver
The Ravens showed in their win over the Houston Texans Monday night that they can win games with a dominating defense and an offense that relies on a running game that makes up for deficiencies in the passing game.
“Consistently week in and week out, day in and day out, just a thick, heavy-handed team,” said Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, speaking of the Ravens’ defense.
“They do a good job in the interior. They’ve got big, strong people. They do a great job of setting the edges, and it’s not just a matter of setting the edges.
“They try to crush the guy whoever’s responsible for it. And their linebacking corps runs and hits you – and a very good secondary.”
Breakdown: The Lions cannot afford another slow start. The Ravens are too good on defense, and too prolific in creating turnovers. They lead the league in turnover differential at plus 11, and they’re No. 1 in takeaways (26) and interceptions (18), and fifth in sacks per play.
Those are drive-stopping, offense-strangling, game-changing stats. Because of them, the Ravens are seldom out of a game.
Prediction: The Ravens have issues of their own, namely on offense. That’s why they are slight favorites in a home game. It’s a game the Lions can win, but injuries are piling up, and the continuing inability to threaten in the run game gives the Ravens’ a chance to unleash their pass rush. That’s a critical advantage.
Ravens 20, Lions 19.
Series history: The two teams have…