The Detroit Lions will beat the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football (MNF) if they don't beat themselves.
Detroit has superior offensive talent. The Lions have a slight edge defensively over Baltimore. And the emergence of Jeremy Ross as Detroit's return specialist neutralizes the edge that Baltimore gets from Jacoby Jones.
The three keys to a Lions victory are:
- break even or win the turnover battle in the game
- avoid costly penalties
- let their skilled players like wide receiver Calvin Johnson (aka "Megatron"), quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Reggie Bush control the offensive tempo.
"Hometown Heroes" - The aerial combination of Matthew Stafford to Megatron could break this game wide open. The Ravens have only nine interceptions this season and their secondary is rated No. 14 in the NFL.
"Surprise and Delight" - If Reggie Bush is ready to play, he could have a big game running and catching the ball out of the backfield. When Bush is performing well like in the Thanksgiving Day victory over the Packers, the Lions seem to cruise comfortably to victory.
"Hometown Zeroes" - The Lions secondary receivers have contributed very little in the three recent losses. Players like Nate Burleson, Kris Durham and Josepth Fauria need to step up in Detroit's quest for an NFC North title.
"And one more thing . . ." - Don't let the Ravens keep the game close. Baltimore (7-6) has proven that if you give them an opportunity, they can win a game late in 4th quarter. Plus they need to win to stay in the race for a playoff spot.
Summary - The Michigan Gnome and I are both 6-7, because we didn't expect the Lions to surrender long touchdown runs or forget how to tackle in the second half of the loss to Philadelphia.
We do believe the 12th man - Lions fans wearing Honolulu blue - will help Detroit to a 38-28 victory over Baltimore tomorrow night.
Feel free to share your feedback, insights, suggestions or questions by commenting on this article, tweeting me @denimartin, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.