The Baltimore Ravens (1-1) are coming off a comeback win against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. They overcame a two score deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the reigning AFC champs 36-35. They travel to Ford Field this week to take on the Detroit Lions (0-2).
Detroit is coming off a forgettable game against the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field on Monday night where they lost 35-17. The offense, unlike in Week 1 against the 49ers, scored 0 points in the second half and the Lions blew a 17-14 halftime advantage.
Baltimore is led by quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is a large part of the Ravens having the best rushing attack in the NFL. Along with Jackson and running backs Ty’Son Williams and Latavius Murray, Baltimore is averaging 220 yards on the ground through two games so far, easily the best mark in the league.
The Ravens have also rushed for at least 100 yards in 41 straight games, which is two shy of the NFL record set by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the mid 1970s.
They should have no problem doing that again as the Lions rank in the middle of the pack against the run. The 49ers rushed for 131 yards in Week 1 while the Packers rushed for 96 last week.
But the Ravens can also be a potent offense through the air. Jackson’s favorite target so far has been Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who has caught 12 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns. Since Week 12 of last season, Brown is tied for the league lead with Green Bay’s Davante Adams with eight receiving touchdowns.
Tight end Mark Andrews is also one of the best in the NFL at his position. While the former Pro Bowler struggled in Week 1, he had a bounce back performance last week with five receptions and 57 yards. Free agent acquisition Sammy Watkins has also been a valuable asset to the wide receiving corps with eight catches for 140 yards.
Baltimore should be able to put up points early and often, as they have the fourth best scoring offense in the league, averaging 31.5 points per game. The Ravens high powered offense will be going against a weak and injured defense. The Lions have the 31st ranked scoring defense, giving up 38 points per game, only ahead of the Atlanta Falcons.
As for Detroit on the offensive side of the ball, they should be able to put up points as well.
Jared Goff is off to one of his best starts to a season with 584 yards, five TDs and two interceptions through two games.
He has been aided by the emergence of tight end T.J. Hockenson, who is looking to enter the conversation as the best tight end in football. He is tied for the lead league in receptions with 16, and has scored two touchdowns. Hockenson also has 163 yards.
If he catches another eight passes and a score, he will become the first tight end in NFL history to catch eight-plus passes and a touchdown in the first three games of the year.
Another emerging player in the receiving corps is second-year pro Quintez Cephus. Dating back to last season, he has caught a touchdown in three straight games. He also tied a career-high with 63 receiving yards on four catches against Green Bay.
Goff and Co. should be in for another big game as Baltimore has one of the worst pass and scoring defenses in the league to start the season. They have given up an average of 34 points per game, which ranks 29th, and over 375 passing yards per game, which ranks last in the NFL.
As for how this game will play out, Baltimore should take command of the game early and win handily. Jackson should torch this Detroit defense through the air and on the ground. Brown should be in for a big game against this depleted Lions secondary. Top cornerback Jeff Okudah is out for the year with a ruptured Achilles and his replacement, Ifeatu Melifonwu, was placed on IR with a thigh injury after getting hurt against the Packers.
Detroit should be able to put up some big numbers as well. Goff has been efficient as the quarterback of the Lions and the team has shown the capability of putting up big numbers. Baltimore also has a depleted secondary, as top cornerback Marcus Peters is out for the year with a knee injury and Jimmy Smith (ankle) has missed the first two games of the year while being listed as questionable for this contest.
I think this game could turn into a shootout, with Detroit hanging around for the first half. But experience and talent will shine through in the second half, similar to the way it did Monday night in Green Bay for the Packers. Jackson will have a monster game and prove why he is one of the most electric players in the NFL.
Dan Campbell’s squad will put up another valiant effort, showing that the fighting spirit is in them. But injuries and the lack of depth and talent will continue to catch up to the Lions.
Baltimore will make it 11 straight wins against NFC opponents while the Lions will fall to 0-3 for the first time since 2015 when they started out 0-5.
Ravens 38, Lions 27.
All stats are courtesy of ESPN.com and Pro-Football-Reference.com.