When you think of the Detroit Lions playing against the Baltimore Ravens you think of good offense versus stifling defense, and on the surface you would be correct. The Lions earned their 7-6 record mostly by moving the football down the field and putting it into the end zone while the Ravens carved their 7-6 standing by playing solid defense and keeping their offense in the game.
When we dig a little deeper, however, we find that the strength versus strength aspect of this ballgame isn’t necessarily what it seems. Though the Ravens boast a top-ten defense, most of their success has been against the run. The Ravens do well in shutting down their opponent’s ground game having allowed only 1,315 rush yards on the year — seventh best in the league. More importantly, they do not let teams cross the goal line with a simple a handoff. They have only allowed three rushing touchdowns all season which makes them the best team in the league when it comes to setting up a picket fence across the goal line.
Their passing defense, however, isn’t quite as good. They’ve allowed 3,012 passing yards this season, and they’ve only intercepted the ball nine times. This will be important when facing the Lions, who want to move the ball through the air. The Lions’ offense is ranked third in the league when it comes to yardage, but they are ranked 20th when it comes to yardage on the ground. The Lions want to pass, which they’ve done 525 times for 3,863 yards on the year. After dissecting the matchup of each team’s strengths we see that the edge goes to Detroit.
The real strength versus strength battle in this game will occur when the Lions are punting to the Ravens. Baltimore is best in the league when it comes to punt return average, racking up 14.8 yards per return. The Lions, on the other hand, are third in the league at covering punts, allowing their opponents only five yards per attempt. This could have big implications in the field position battle and end up swaying the outcome of the game.