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Ravens-Lions: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Lions: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 16 December 2013 by Luke Jones

Trying to stay on pace in the playoff race and keep their AFC North title hopes alive, the Ravens travel to Ford Field in Detroit to take on the Lions, who are pressed with high stakes of their own in a tight NFC North division battle with Chicago and Green Bay.

A win puts the Ravens back into a tie with Miami, who entered Monday as the No. 6 seed in the conference by way of an 8-6 record, but Baltimore holds the head-to-head tiebreaker due to a Week 5 win over the Dolphins. With Cincinnati falling in Pittsburgh on Sunday night, the Ravens also know they can win their third straight division title if they’re able to win their final three games to close out the regular season.

As expected, outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil is active and will play against the Lions after missing his first game of the season last week against Minnesota. The rush specialist suffered a left ankle injury in the Thanksgiving night win over the Steelers and will be expected to provide pressure on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and a potent passing attack.

Veteran tight end Dallas Clark is active this week after sitting out against Minnesota in Dennis Pitta’s return to action. Second-year wideout Deonte Thompson continues to be inactive despite the season-ending injury suffered by veteran slot receiver Brandon Stokley last week.

Lions running back Reggie Bush is active and will make the start after missing last week’s game due to a calf injury suffered in pre-game warmups in Philadelphia. The veteran provides a dangerous pass-catching option out of the backfield for Stafford to complement All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

Detroit defensive end Ezekiel Ansah is also active despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week while nursing a shoulder injury.

The Lions will be short in the secondary Monday night as starting cornerback Chris Houston is out with a toe injury and backup corner Darius Slay is also inactive. Jonte Green will start in Houston’s place against the Ravens.

The Ravens are playing indoors for the first time since prevailing in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on February 3, and it’s a welcome development for a team that’s played in harsh weather conditions over the last six weeks that have brought major challenges to both the passing and kicking games. Baltimore is also playing its first Monday night game since last year’s season opener against the Bengals.

Baltimore leads the all-time series against the Lions by a 2-1 margin but lost its only other appearance at Ford Field in 2005, a 35-17 final that included a franchise-record 21 penalties and two player ejections. The Ravens won the last meeting between these teams in 2009 in a convincing 48-3 final at M&T Bank Stadium.

The referee for Monday night’s game will be Carl Cheffers.

The Ravens will be wearing white jerseys with black pants while Detroit dons its blue jerseys with silver pants.

Here are Monday night’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
S Brynden Trawick
S Omar Brown
RB Bernard Scott
C Ryan Jensen
WR Deonte Thompson
OLB John Simon
DT Brandon Williams

DETROIT
CB Chris Houston
CB Darius Slay
QB Kellen Moore
RB Mikel Leshoure
G Rodney Austin
G Leroy Harris
OT Jason Fox

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the evening for updates and analysis as Nestor Aparicio brings live coverage from Ford Field in Detroit.

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Ravens-Lions: Five predictions for Monday night

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Ravens-Lions: Five predictions for Monday night

Posted on 15 December 2013 by Luke Jones

Playing on the road for the first time in nearly a month, the Ravens know exactly what’s at stake when they travel to Ford Field to take on the Detroit Lions on Monday night.

A three-game winning streak has pushed Baltimore above the .500 mark for the first time since October, but a 1-5 road record can’t be overlooked as the Ravens play two of their final three away from M&T Bank Stadium against first-place teams. And with Miami and San Diego also hanging around in the AFC wild-card picture, the margin for error is small.

The Ravens have the clear advantage with health as linebacker Elvis Dumervil was the only player of real consequence listed as questionable and the rush specialist is expected to make his return after missing last week’s game against Minnesota with an ankle injury. Meanwhile, the Lions have three starters listed as questionable or worse on the final injury report of the week.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens aim to improve to two games above .500 for the first time all season. Monday night marks the fourth time these teams have ever met with the Ravens holding a 2-1 all-time advantage. Detroit won the only meeting between the teams at Ford Field, a 35-17 final back in 2005.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens try to maintain their grip on the No. 6 seed in the conference playoff race …

1. Facing a banged-up and below-average secondary, Torrey Smith finds room down the field for a long touchdown. The Lions will be without starting cornerback Chris Houston and rookie backup Darius Slay while starting free safety Louis Delmas missed two practices this week with a knee injury, leaving Detroit’s 25th-ranked pass defense even more vulnerable than normal. Smith has been held to just nine receptions over the last three games, but the return of tight end Dennis Pitta and the recent emergence of Jacoby Jones alleviates the heavy attention he was facing earlier in the season. This will free him up to slip past the secondary for a deep touchdown on Monday night, which will put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his three-year career.

2. Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson will go over 100 yards receiving and catch a touchdown over safety Matt Elam in deep coverage. The rookie’s comments questioning Johnson’s age and physicality earlier in the week were foolish, but the league’s best wideout was already motivated with the Lions fighting Chicago and Green Bay for the NFC North title. Elam has been a disappointment in pass coverage — recording just two pass breakups — as he’s played out of position all season and his small frame doesn’t play well against Johnson if he’s asked to provide help over the top. Cornerback Jimmy Smith has received most of the attention in terms of who will cover Johnson, but the Ravens rarely ever flip their corners and will likely try to offer as many different looks as they can in coverage. It won’t matter as Johnson will still get his yards and a score on Monday.

3. Linebacker Terrell Suggs will collect his first sack since Nov. 3, but the Ravens won’t generate much pressure on Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Lions have only allowed 15 sacks this season, which is a major reason why Stafford has remained healthy and is 24 yards shy of his third consecutive 4,000-yard season. Baltimore hasn’t collected a sack since Week 12, but blitzing will leave the defense vulnerable underneath against running back Reggie Bush coming out of the backfield, leaving defensive coordinator Dean Pees in a difficult position. Suggs will beat left tackle Riley Reiff for a sack in the first half and Dumervil’s return will help, but Stafford’s quick release and the Ravens’ concern with Bush and fellow back Joique Bell catching passes out of the backfield will lead to another week of underwhelming pressure.

4. Joe Flacco will roll out and move from the pocket by design to neutralize the Lions’ interior pressure to throw for 250 yards and two touchdowns. The presence of defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley is a major concern for the Ravens as Flacco will need time in the pocket to step up and go vertical to test a poor secondary. Even if right guard Marshal Yanda and center Gino Gradkowski can hold their own against Suh, Fairley is likely to give A.Q. Shipley fits, which will prompt offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell to use designed roll-outs and waggles for Flacco to move outside the pocket. Flacco has shown that he can throw effectively on the run and Pitta’s presence will help in that regard with intermediate passes to move the chains. Detroit’s defensive line is too strong to try to play straight up in the passing game, so the Ravens will try to get Flacco in space behind the line of scrimmage.

5. Struggling at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, the Ravens can’t quite keep up in a 27-20 final to Detroit. Most attention has fallen on the likes of Johnson, Stafford, and Bush this week, but the Ravens’ running game and pass rush do not match up well against the Lions, which will be the difference in a game in which points could come liberally for both sides. Baltimore will not be able to find space against the league’s sixth-ranked run defense, putting everything on Flacco’s throwing arm, but the passing game just hasn’t had a consistent 60 minutes of play all season long and that will catch up with them late in a back-and-forth game. With the Ravens unable to pressure Stafford, the Lions will just be too tough to stop as a late score against a defense that’s been unable to finish will be the difference in an entertaining contest.

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Dumervil back at practice for Ravens on Friday

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Dumervil back at practice for Ravens on Friday

Posted on 13 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A day after telling reporters he was on the verge of returning to the practice field, Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil worked on a limited basis on Friday.

With Baltimore preparing for a Monday night meeting with the Detroit Lions, Dumervil was the only player on the roster to miss Thursday’s practice as he continues to work his way back from a left ankle injury suffered in Week 13. The 29-year-old missed last Sunday’s game over the Minnesota Vikings and hadn’t practiced since before the Ravens’ Thanksgiving game with Pittsburgh.

“It’s an unusual ankle sprain. It’s sort of a bruise [and] strain at once,” Dumervil said Thursday. “It’s kind of awkward, so you feel things from different areas. I’m getting better, so thank God about that. I’m going to try to go out tomorrow with the guys and get some work in. They’ve got a good team in Detroit, so I’ve got to make sure I’m ready.”

After failing to collect any sacks in their last two games, the Ravens could use Dumervil’s pass-rush ability against the league’s third-ranked passing game. Dumervil leads Baltimore with 9 1/2 sacks this season while serving primarily as a rush specialist.

Starting cornerback Lardarius Webb (abs) and rookie safety Brynden Trawick (ankle) both worked on a limited basis Friday for the second straight day.

For the Lions, standout running back Reggie Bush (calf) returned to practice on Friday, which is a promising sign for his status after he missed last Sunday’s game in Philadelphia.

Here is Friday’s official injury report:

BALTIMORE
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle), S Brynden Trawick (ankle), CB Lardarius Webb (abs)

DETROIT
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Chris Houston (toe), CB Darius Slay (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DE Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder), RB Reggie Bush (calf), S Louis Delmas (knee), DE Isreal Idonije (knee), WR Calvin Johnson (knee), T LaAdrian Waddle (elbow)
FULL PARTICIPATION: S John Wendling (illness)

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