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Ravens visit Lions in crucial Monday game
By: Zach Cohen - StatFox
Published: 12/16/2013  at  5:02:00 AM
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Kickoff: Monday, 8:40 p.m. ET
Line: Detroit -5.5, Total: 48

After wrapping up a three-game homestand, the Ravens hit the road on Monday night to take on the Lions in a game with major playoff implications for both teams.

Baltimore won its third straight game last week with a comeback 29-26 victory over the Vikings at home, but it has been a horrible road team at 1-5 SU (2-4 ATS) this year. Detroit played a blizzard game in Philadelphia and lost to the Eagles 34-20, but is happy to return home where it is 4-2 SU (3-3 ATS) with 31.7 PPG and 477 total YPG. These teams have met at Ford Field just once since 1992, and that ended up in a 35-17 win-and-cover for the Lions. The Lions are 25-6 ATS (81%) after gaining four or less yards per play in their previous game since 1992, while the Ravens are 42-23 ATS (65%) after playing a game where 50 total points or more were scored since 1992. Although Baltimore has a strong defense, this could be a high-scoring game as the Lions are 7-0 Over in non-conference tilts over the past two seasons. RB Reggie Bush (calf), who reinjured his calf in pregame warm-ups last week and did not play, is listed as questionable for Sunday, while LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle) is questionable for the Ravens.

Which team will help its playoff positioning on Sunday? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. The experts continue to flourish, combining for a 56% ATS record (53-41-6) over the past seven weeks. StatFox Brian has a 65% ATS (22-12-2) mark in Best Bets since Week 7, and is 56% ATS (30-24-4) this season. StatFox Scott is 9-5 ATS in the past three weeks of Best Bets, and is 54% ATS (27-23-2) this season, including 62% ATS (24-15-1) in Best Bets since Week 4. StatFox Gary has six perfect weeks in Best Bets since Week 4, and is 5-2 ATS in the past three weeks.

The Ravens have gotten hot at just at the right time as they make a push for a playoff spot in the AFC. QB Joe Flacco (3,238 pass yards, 6.6 YPA, 18 TD, 17 INT) has thrown for 240 or more yards in each of the past three games and has five touchdowns and four interceptions in that time, tossing three picks in last week's game before throwing the game-winning TD pass to Marlon Brown with nine seconds remaining, marking the game's fifth touchdown in the final 2:05. That capped off a monster performance for Brown who had seven receptions for 92 yards. RB Ray Rice also totaled 109 yards in the game despite rushing for just 67 on 3.9 YPC, marking the 11th time in 12 games that he has failed to average 4.0 yards per carry in a game this year. His 3.0 YPC average this year is far below his career mark of 4.3 YPC. TE Dennis Pitta made a big splash in his season debut with 48 yards and a touchdown on six catches, and his athleticism adds a different dimension to this offense. But top WR Torrey Smith had one of his worst games of the year versus Minnesota, as he was held to just one reception for 11 yards. The Ravens will need him to be much more effective against Detroit. Baltimore's defense has given up just 49 points total over the past three weeks and ranks 8th in the NFL with 20.1 PPG allowed. Its rush defense continues to be dominant, allowing just 101.2 rushing YPG (7th in NFL) on 3.8 yards per carry (5th in league).

The Lions were poised to have a fairly simple road to the playoffs but they have lost three of their past four games in a very crucial period. The Lions are great at defending the run, allowing just 99.3 yards per game on the ground (6th in NFL), but are a miserable pass defense, allowing 255.9 YPG through the air (25th in NFL). QB Matt Stafford has had an up-and-down season with 27 TD, but 18 turnovers (14 INT, 4 lost fumbles), but ranks fourth in the NFL in passing yards (3,976). He struggled throwing in the snow against the Eagles last game, going just 10-of-25 for 151 yards and no touchdowns. WR Calvin Johnson has been one of the league’s best players yet again this season. Despite dealing with nagging injuries all year, he still has 75 receptions for 1,351 yards (2nd in NFL) and 12 receiving touchdowns (2nd in NFL). This matchup with the Ravens could make or break Detroit's season and it will need to be clicking on all cylinders.

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