1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Lions

1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Lions
December 15, 2013, 1:00 pm
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There will be no snow squalls, no tornado warnings, no 40 mph winds when the Ravens face the Lions in Detroit on Monday night. For the first time in about two months, the weather won't play a factor as the teams square off at climate-controlled Ford Field. What will happen when the Ravens and Lions face off on Monday night? Let's gaze into the crystal ball:

1. Dennis Pitta will lead the Ravens in targets.

Pitta made his first appearance of the season against the Vikings last week, and after shaking off the rust, he finished with six catches for 48 yards. He was targeted 11 times, tied with Marlon Brown for most on the team. It quickly became obvious that Pitta is Joe Flacco's favorite target, and Flacco will look his way often again.

2. Pitta will score a touchdown.

As he showed late in the Vikings game with a 1-yard touchdown catch, Pitta gives Flacco and the Ravens a trusted, reliable red zone presence. It's something Flacco has lacked much of the season, which is one reason the Ravens rank 21st in red zone offense. That number should improve with the return of Pitta.

3. The Ravens will score in the first quarter. 

The Ravens have been able to play with the lead lately. In the past five games, they have outscored their opponents 37-3 in the first quarter. They even jumped ahead of the Bears 10-0 on the road, and expect them to score early again.

4. Tyrod Taylor will play.

The Ravens went to their pseudo-wildcat, 'high school offense,' as Flacco called it, to counter the tough Jets front seven. Now the Ravens face a Lions interior line led by Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. One way to counter that is to stretch the field side to side, and Taylor can do with his legs. The Ravens will at least show that look.

5. The Ravens won't rush for 100 yards.

Ray Rice looked sharp last week, carrying 17 times for 67 yards in terrible conditions. He was as explosive and quick as he's looked all season. Still, it will be tough sledding for him and the Ravens against a Lions defense that ranks sixth against the run.

6. Joe Flacco will complete a 40-yard pass.

The Lions have some issues on the back end, with starting cornerback Chris Houston (toe) and backup Darius Slay (knee) both doubtful. The offensive line has to give Flacco time, but expect him to take shots downfield.

7. Terrell Suggs' sack drought will continue.

Suggs had at least one sack in seven of the first eight games, but now he has gone five straight games without one. The Lions have allowed 15 sacks, the fewest in the league. Suggs won't be ejected, as he was on his last visit to Detroit in 2005, but he won't drop Stafford, either.\

8. Calvin Johnson will have more than 100 receiving yards. ...

After Matt Elam said that Johnson' 28, is getting "pretty old," Johnson countered that he'd show Elam what "old man strength is about." Johnson has had 100-plus receiving yards in seven games this year, including three of the past four. Against the Ravens last preseason, 'Megatron' put up 111 receiving yards -- in less than a half.

9. ... and will score a touchdown.

Johnson has 12 touchdown catches this season, which ranks second in the league, and you just know after the Elam comments he and the Lions are ithcing to have him increase that total. Cornerback Jimmy Smith will draw the assignment of trying to stay with Johnson, but he is a massive, formidable 6-foot-5 target in the red zone.

10. Lions 27, Ravens 23

The Lions need this game every bit as badly as the Ravens do, locked in a three-way fight for the NFC North title. The Ravens have been on a roll, but that was at home. They simply aren't the same team on the road, where they are 1-5 this season. Facing a desperate Lions team with playmakers like Megatron and Reggie Bush will be no easy task.