Hopefully the Detroit Lions can pull themselves out of their turkey coma on Sunday. The Baltimore Ravens are coming off a primetime win against the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. The Lions are licking their wounds from tough division loss against the Vikings.
The Ravens’ short week vs. the Lions’ mini bye week coming off of Thanksgiving should be something to watch in this game.
Here are 10 things I think I know heading into Week 13 against the Ravens:
1. I think the Lions need to start this game quickly. Jim Caldwell said earlier this week that it’s the coaches’ jobs to get the team off to a faster start in games.
"It's all coaching," Caldwell said. "It's all coaching. It's never anything else other than coaching. It's our job to get them going. It's not on the players' job. It's our job."
This has been one negative mark for much of the Caldwell era in Detroit. The Lions are consistently behind the eight ball and have needed too many late-game heroics to make up for slow starts.
2. I think the defense could get on track against a shaky Ravens offense. The Ravens are somehow still in the playoff hunt despite having one of the worst offenses in the NFL.
The Ravens have the 31st ranked offense in total yards and currently rank 26th in Football Outsiders DVOA rankings. Joe Flacco has only posted a 74.2 QB rating. And Baltimore is dead last in receiving yards with just 1,969—they’re the only team with under 2000 yards receiving on the season.
But what Baltimore lacks on offense, they make up for on defense (first in DVOA) and special teams (first in DVOA).
3. I think the Lions rushing offense is, once again, horrible. Death, taxes, and a poor Lions rushing game. The Lions just can’t seem to get it figured out.
At this point in the year it looks likely the Lions will go another season without a 1,000-yard rusher, and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a solution any time soon. Unfortunately for the Lions, the run game woes seem to driven more by coaching and scheme than players and performance.
The Lions have drafted running backs, signed high-priced free agent blockers, and picked offensive lineman in all rounds of the draft. And nothing has seemed to work.
4. I think I’m excited to watch Dwight Freeney play in his first game as a Lion. I don’t think he’ll be an every-down player, but Freeney definitely has some gas left in the tank.
Despite being 37 years old, Freeney recorded three sacks in four games with the Seahawks this year before being released.
Hopefully his leadership will help the Lions make a playoff push, and help him avoid only his third playoff absence in 16 years.
Dwight Freeney is in his 16th year in the NFL. He's missed the playoffs twice. That's insane.— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) November 27, 2017
Freeney: "For me, this is all I know. It'd probably be difficult for me to go to a team that had no type of playoff push."
5. I think the Lions can run the table the rest of the season, but it won’t be easy. Mike Payton wrote about this extensively. And while it is possible the Lions can win out the rest of the season, I don’t really like their odds.
Here are my top reasons the Lions will miss the playoffs:
- No running game
- A declining defense
- An injured QB
I hope they prove me wrong.
6. I think the Lions need to make the Ravens one-dimensional and force the game into Flacco’s hands. The only way the Ravens can win is if they can run the ball against the Lions.
Baltimore’s pass offense is abysmal and it will be on Teryl Austin and the rest of the Lions defense to make the Ravens pass the ball.
7. I think Ezekiel Ansah needs to impact the game. The other way the Lions can impact the game on defense is to consistently get pressure off the edge. Joe Flacco has never been very mobile, and the Ravens offensive line is coming off a poor outing against the Texans and Jadeveon Clowney.
8. I think we’re finally going to see what Miles Killebrew can do. With Tavon Wilson getting shut down for the year with a shoulder injury, the Lions will get a long look at what second-year safety Miles Killebrew can do with a bigger role.
Killebrew has looked good (and bad) at times this season, especially in pass defense, but the Lions will need him to be solid against the run this week, something he should excel at.
9. I think Terrell Suggs is still a force, and can wreck the Lions offensive gameplan. Suggs may be 35, but he is definitely a guy offensive coordinators circle to begin their week’s preparation.
He’s already at 9.5 sacks on the season and is on pace for his seventh double-digit sack season of his career.
10. I think this week’s game is winnable, if the Lions don’t make mistakes. You can’t expect to win many games when you lose the turnover battle, and give up explosive plays on defense. That was the case against the Vikings last week.
Oddly enough, it seems like the Lions have played better on the road this season than at home.
The Lions have enough pieces on offense to compete against a stout Ravens defense. But it will ultimately come down to the Lions’ ability to stop the Baltimore offense.
If the Lions lose this one, they can all but kiss their playoff dreams goodbye.