LIONS INSIDER

Scouting this week’s opponent: Baltimore Ravens

Posted Dec 10, 2013

Monday night's Lions vs. Ravens game will feature two 7-6 teams fighting for their playoff lives

The Baltimore Ravens (7-6) come to Ford Field for Monday Night Football this week as winners of three straight games. The win streak has gotten the Ravens back into the thick of the AFC playoff picture.

Baltimore is coming off a wild, 29-26, victory over Minnesota last week that featured five touchdowns scored in the final 2:05. It was the first game in NFL history with six lead changes in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens are just 1-5 away from M&T Bank Stadium this year, however.

OFFENSE

Quarterback Joe Flacco has had an inconsistent season. He’s thrown 18 touchdowns and 17 interceptions with a passer rating of 77.0.  

Joe FlaccoQB Joe Flacco (Photo: AP Images)

Those numbers are much improved in the fourth quarter, though. Flacco’s passer rating is 91.7 over the final 15 minutes and he’s thrown eight touchdowns vs. five interceptions with a completion percentage nearly seven points higher in the quarter.

The one thing the Lions defense has to be very cognizant of is Flacco’s propensity to throw the ball down the field. Baltimore is second in the NFL with 57 attempts of 20-plus yards.

His big-play threat in the passing game is receiver Torrey Smith, who has 963 receiving yards and a 17.4 yards-per-catch average.

Receiver Marlon Brown has given the Ravens a threat opposite Smith. The rookie has six touchdown catches on the year.

Tight end Dennis Pitta returned to the lineup last week for the first time in four months since suffering a fractured and dislocated hip at the start of training camp. He caught six passes and a touchdown in his return. He’s a huge addition over the middle of the field for their passing game.

Running back Ray Rice has had a quiet season thus far (549 rushing yards), but his 109 all-purpose yards were big in the win last week.

The Ravens rank 29th overall on offense (310.2), 29th running the ball (82.3) and 20th throwing it (227.9). They’re 24th in points scored (21.4).

DEFENSE

The Ravens are a very good defense in the red zone and on third down, which is very similar to the Lions'.

The Ravens rank third in the NFL on third down (32.5 percent) and opponents are only scoring a touchdown 39.4 percent of the time in the red zone against them.

The Lions' defense ranks No. 1 in the NFL on third down (30.2) and No. 3 in the red zone (40 percent).

Baltimore does a good job pressuring the quarterback with 37 sacks on the year. Elvis Dumervil (9.5 sacks) and Terrell Suggs (9.0) are particularly lethal on the edges. Dumervil has been dealing with an ankle injury, but could return to the lineup this week vs. Detroit.

Their defense isn’t generating a lot of turnovers off that pressure, however. Baltimore has just nine interceptions this year, which ranks among the lowest in the NFL. They’ve recovered eight fumbles.

Baltimore’s defense is ranked ninth overall (332.8), eighth against the run (101.2) and 14th against the pass (231.7). It ranks 8th in points allowed (20.1) .

SPECIAL TEAMS

Jacoby Jones and the special teams units are a huge weapon for the Ravens.

Baltimore leads the NFL with a 14.8 punt return average and are the only team in the NFL with 10 explosive punt returns of 20-plus yards.

They also rank sixth in the NFL with an average of 25.7 yards per kickoff return and have returned one kickoff for a touchdown this year.

The coverage units rank in the bottom half of the league, but the haven’t allowed a touchdown return all year.

Kicker Justin Tucker is one of the best in the NFL. He’s made 94 percent of his field goals this season (29-of-31) and 4-of-5 from 50-plus yards.