Dome sweet dome- No team in the NFL has had to deal with more weather problems this year than the Ravens. In their season opener, the Ravens had a weather delay against the Broncos due to lightning. A few weeks ago, the weather in Chicago caused a two hour game delay. And of course, how could anyone forget about last week’s winter wonderland at M&T Bank Stadium. The Detroit Lions, fortunately, play in a dome, so the Ravens don’t have to worry about the weather this week. That’s the good news. The bad news, though, is that the Lions are 4-2 at home and are averaging over 30 points a game at Ford Field. It also doesn’t help that the Ravens have struggled mightily on the road this year, winning only one of their six games away from home.
Stopping Megatron- Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson has played so well over the past few years that there is no longer a discussion about how good he is compared to other active players. Now, the conversation has shifted towards where Johnson ranks on the all-time list. He is still in his prime, and yet he will already go down as one of the best to ever play the game. This year, Johnson already has 75 receptions, 1348 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns. Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, who has the size to matchup with Johnson, has been playing his best football of his career recently, and he will need to be at his best on Monday when facing Johnson.
Protecting Flacco- The Detroit Lions have one of the best defensive fronts in all of football. Defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are two of the more talented players at their position and are tough to block. Not only are they great at stopping the run, but they are strong enough to get interior pressure on the quarterback, something that has been a problem for the Ravens offensive line. On the outside, the Lions feature rookie Ezekiel Ansah and Willie Young, who have combined for 10 sacks and two forced fumbles this season. Although Ansah and Young don’t have the big numbers, they are both speed rushers, another area that the Ravens offensive line has struggled with, especially right tackle Michael Oher. It is no secret that the success to this offense is protecting quarterback Joe Flacco and giving him enough time to make the throws. We have seen what this offense is able to do when given that chance. They’ll have to find a way to neutralize the Lions pass rush if they want to keep up with the Lions offense.
Finding a way to attack Stafford- On the other side of the line, the Lions are one of the best teams at protecting their quarterback. They have given up 15 sacks this year, but 5 of them came in one game. That means that in the other 12 games, they have only given up 10 sacks. The Ravens pass rush, once considered a team strength, has dwindled during the second half of the season. The defense hasn’t recorded a sack in the past two games. The Lions offense is great at home, and if defenses are unable to get to quarterback Matthew Stafford, he makes them pay. If Elvis Dumervil is able to play this week that will certainly boost the Ravens chances of getting their first sack in a few games.