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2021 season preview: Lions vs. Ravens

Opponent: Baltimore Ravens

Location: Ford Field

Week/Date: Week 3, Sunday Sept. 26 at 1:00 p.m.

TV/radio: CBS/97.1 FM

Previous matchup: Dec. 3, 2017: The Ravens beat the visiting Lions 44-20.

Why this game matters: This game should give us a pretty good idea of just how improved Detroit's defense is under new coordinator Aaron Glenn, especially when it comes to the run defense. Baltimore led the NFL last season averaging 191.9 rushing yards per game. Their 31 rushes of 20-plus yards were 10 more than the next highest team. It's hard to win in the NFL if you can't stop the run, and Baltimore provides the toughest test the league has to offer. – Tim Twentyman

Crucial matchup: Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson seemingly could hold his own playing one-on-11 against opposing defenses using his arm, legs and instincts. Jackson's had two straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons and 36 and 26 TD passes the last two years respectively. Add receiving weapons to Jackson's arsenal, as the Ravens did in the offseason, and the offense has the potential to be lethal.

The Ravens added firepower by signing veteran Sammy Watkins as a free agent and drafted Rashod Bateman of Minnesota in the first round and 27 overall. Watkins hasn't had quite the production expected of him when he was drafted fourth overall by Buffalo in 2014, but he's capable of making big catches at any time. And Bateman was highly valued going into a 2021 draft that was deep at the receiver position.

The bottom line in 2021: The Ravens' offense is armed and more dangerous. – Mike O'Hara

Rookie watch: I'm going to double-dip on this one and say I'll have my eye on rookie defensive tackles Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill. We talked above about just how potent the Ravens are running the football. Onwuzurike and McNeill were drafted in back-to-back picks in the second and third rounds, respectively, to help give the Lions a stronger presence inside along their defensive line. They'll certainly be tested in this one. – Tim Twentyman

WEEK 3 · Sun 09/26 · 1:00 PM EDT


Baltimore Ravens

Ford Field