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Ravens take on Lions in a “show me” matchup…

 

LIONS VS. RAVENS

Sunday, December 3 | 1:00 PM
M&T Bank Stadium
FOX/WBFF-TV (Ch. 45)
98 Rock | WBAL-1090 AM

The Ravens have to show me something against the Lions. How much longer can the Baltimore defense and special teams cover for an underperforming offense? And now against a Top 10 quarterback named Matthew Stafford, who obviously is not at his best coming off a sprained ankle sustained last week but is still the best QB outside Ben Roethlisberger the Ravens will have faced so far?

Both teams are 6-5. This one will seriously curtail the wild card hopes of the team which loses.

John Eisenberg, esteemed columnist and now a part of the Ravens’ media machine, sums it up well in my humble opinion:

“Stafford, who will lead the Detroit Lions against the Ravens Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, represents a departure from what the Ravens have experienced lately. Since losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger on Oct. 1, they’ve faced backup signal-callers in six of their past seven games. The exception was the Tennessee Titans’ Marcus Mariota.

“Stafford, meanwhile, is well on his way to a seventh consecutive 4,000-yard passing season. He ranks fifth in the league in passing yardage, seventh in completions and has tossed 21 touchdown passes against six interceptions. Both of his primary targets, Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr., are among the league’s top 20 wide receivers.

“As a team, the Lions rank seventh in the league in completions of 20 or more yards, and they’re tied for second in completions of 40 or more yards.

“They throw the ball a lot and do a great job with it; they lead the league in big-play passes and spread it around pretty evenly,” Harbaugh said. “Stafford is the leader of it. He directs the whole thing.”

Speaking generally about Detroit’s offense, Harbaugh said it was “different from some of the offenses we’ve played the last few weeks for a lot of different reasons; how they’re set up, who they have out there and the schemes they run.”

Ravens safety Eric Weddle acknowledged that Stafford, Tate, Jones and the rest of the Lions’ passing game will pose a challenge to the Ravens’ highly-ranked pass defense.

“They’re explosive wideouts,” Weddle said. “Marvin is a playmaker up the field, dynamic catching the ball, in the air. Golden has been making plays since I can remember … with the ball in his hands. Good route runner, but when he has the ball in his hands, he turns into like a running back-slash-rhinoceros and just spins out of tackles and is a huge playmaker.”

The Houston Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins grabbed seven catches for 125 yards against the Ravens Monday night, becoming one of few opposing receivers to enjoy success against Baltimore this season. Tate and Jones surely will try to replicate that success, only with a more dangerous quarterback throwing to them.

“Those two guys, we’ll have our hands full with them,” Weddle said. “We’ve just got to make life tough for them. Play our technique, fundamentals, and when the ball is in the air, we’ve got to make plays just as much as they do.”

You’ve got to wonder the way things are going for the Ravens’ offense if they could even hope to keep up with the Lions if the game turns into a shoot-out.

QB Joe Flacco was asked on Wednesday for his take on the struggling offense, which ranks 31stoverall and last in the NFL in passing. And with the Ravens still in the midst of a tight AFC playoff race with five regular-season games to go, Flacco dialed back his comments.

“Right now, we’re just keeping our head down,” he said. “It may not always look pretty, it may not look pretty moving forward, but we’re going to do what we have to do to win football games and put ourselves in a good position at the end to win them.”

Flacco was asked whether it’s an ongoing conversation about how aggressive the offensive approach is going to be each week.

“What do you think we do here every day and every week? We’re working on getting better, and that’s all we can really do,” he said.

“We’re going to make it happen,” Flacco said. “We have a little bit to go, but it’s not anything crazy. We definitely have guys that can make plays and get us rolling.”

Well, if patience is a virtue, this has been one helluva test of virtue for Ravens fans this season.

The biggest injury question of the week is the status of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who injured his ankle in Detroit’s Thanksgiving game. The extra rest seems to have served him well, as he practiced fully Wednesday.

The Lions who didn’t practice were running back Ameer Abdullah (neck), defensive end Dwight Freeney (non-injury related), offensive linemen T.J. Lang (foot) and Travis Swanson (knee) and cornerback Jamal Agnew (knee).

Baltimore had nearly their entire roster at mid-week practice, but the most notable absence was starting running back Alex Collins because of a calf issue. He rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown in Monday’s victory, and didn’t leave the game early.

 

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