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O'HARA'S FINAL THOUGHTS: Lions looking for first win

It is way too early to put the "must win" tag on a game for the Detroit Lions, but it's not too soon to think about what it would mean to get their first win under head coach Dan Campbell and his staff.

Today's game against the Baltimore Ravens at Ford Field is another matchup for the Lions against a playoff contender in what has been a predictably tough start to the season.

The Lions are 0-2, with losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers.

The Lions played some good ball in the two games, but they haven't strung together good play for a full game.

The Ravens have their own issues. They have a 1-1 won-loss record, with an overtime loss to the Raiders in the opener and a 36-35 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Game 2.

They've been hit hard by injuries, but they have one of the NFL's most dominating players in quarterback Lamar Jackson. He can break open a game at any time with his arm or legs.

Regardless of who plays quarterback for the opponent, winning would be a morale boost for a young Lions team.

"Winning solves a lot of problems, a lot of issues," Campbell said. "It certainly helps significantly. A win can take a lot of the pain and sting away from things that have gone on.

"But there again, the byproduct of winning is playing the proper football and playing the right type of game and being accountable to one another and doing your job.

"Let's play the way we need to play, and play in the right way, and then see what the score ends up looking like -- and see if we win and not shoot ourselves in the foot."

Fast track: Wide receiver Quintez Cephus' stock is rising in his second season with the Lions, which shows again that the stop watch doesn't always predict which players are the best draft prospects.

Cephus has seven catches, two for TDs, with a long reception of 46 yards against the Packers Monday night. He had a promising 2020 rookie season: 20 catches and two TDs. He made the roster as a fifth-round draft pick, despite being timed in 4.73 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

"I think he plays a lot faster than he may have run at the Combine," said QB Jared Goff. "He plays fast. He can run down the field, stretch the field a little bit.

"The number one thing for me that I've enjoyed playing with him is his physicality. He makes plays on the ball when it's not picture-perfect clean.

"He's a tremendously talented player. Some guys, it just comes natural to them playing the position. He's no different. He's a natural receiver."

Random thoughts:

Players to watch: Rookie linebacker Derrick Barnes and veteran Jalen Reeves-Maybin will be in the spotlight in what has been a significant change at linebacker.

The Lions are parting ways with veteran Jamie Collins Sr. and turning over playing time to Barnes and Reeves-Maybin.

Barnes is an intriguing prospect. The Lions traded up to draft him in the fourth round out of Purdue, where he started out playing rush end and switched to middle linebacker as a senior.

Barnes' only action on defense before today was five snaps in the opener. He had two tackles late in the game when the Lions were making a rally.

Takeaways: Defensive end Michael Brockers made his presence known with four tackles and one of the Lions' three sacks against the Packers.

He wants to get turnovers against the Ravens. The Lions have two fumble recoveries and no interceptions in the first two games.

"The biggest thing is turnovers," Brockers said. "That's a mental thing. Everybody has to be focused on it – 'Let's get the ball out.'

"Turnovers come when there's population around the ball. There's two people, three people around the ball. Somebody punches it out.

"That's what this game is about."

Run stopping: The Lions have stopped themselves as much as opponents have from taking full advantage of their running back duo of D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams.

They've had 35 rushing attempts combined in the first two games – 19 for 76 yards for Swift, 16 for 79 for Williams.

Being behind early against the 49ers and in the second half against the Packers forced the Lions to go to the passing game at the expense of what should be a more productive running game.

"I think it's a really good one-two punch," said offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn. "I love it when we do it early in the game. I'd like to go four quarters doing that some time.

"That day will come -- hopefully this weekend."

Ravens' blitz: They do it often to disrupt offenses, but it comes with a risk – and an opportunity for the Lions' offense.

"When you do pressure, you do give up some things," Lynn said. "We're looking at ways to take advantage of those pressures."

Said Goff: "They're not just blitzing to blitz. They're blitzing for a reason."

Faith: The Ravens have it in Jackson in clutch situations. Wide receiver Hollywood Brown made this comment after Jackson had gotten the game-clinching first down against the Chiefs:

"Once I saw the play call – we put the ball in his hands – I had 100 percent confidence that we were going to convert."

Prediction: No player in the league has been more valuable in the first two weeks than Jackson has been to the Ravens. He's the reason the Ravens are 1-1 after two tough battles – the loss to the Raiders and the win over the Chiefs.

The Lions might catch the Ravens a little flat coming off those two games. On their own, the Lions should move the ball on offense and tighten up on defense to make it a game. The Lions can beat the point spread, if not the Ravens.

Pick: Ravens 30, Lions 28.

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