Now that the schedule is set and the draft is over, CSNBaltimore.com is taking a chronological look at each of the Ravens 2013 opponents.
Week 15: Detroit Lions
Date: Monday, Dec. 16, 8:40 p.m., Ford Field
2012 Record: 4-12
Key offseason losses: DE Cliff Avril (to Seattle); T Jeff Backus (retired); T Gosder Cherilus (to Indianapolis); LB Justin Durant (to Dallas); K Jason Hanson (retired)
Key additions: K David Akers (from San Francisco); RB Reggie Bush (from Miami); DT Jason Jones (from Seattle); S Glover Quin (from Houston)
Top 5 draft picks: DE Ziggy Ansah (1st round, BYU); CB Darius Slay (2nd round, Mississipi St.); G larry Warford (3rd round, Kentucky); DE Devin Taylor (4th round, South Carolina); P Sam Martin (5th round, Appalachian State)
Overview: Coming off a playoff appearance in 2011, and with quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson returning, the Lions expected to make some noise in 2012. Instead, they stumbled and bumbled to a 4-12 record and a season-ending eight-game losing streak that has landed coach (and Baltimore native) Jim Schwartz on the hot seat.
Stafford, 25, threw more passes (727) than anyone else in the league last season, but his quarterback rating of 79.8 ranked 22nd in the league.
The offense will again revolve around Johnson. He led the league in receiving yards last season (with an NFL record 1,964) for the second year in a row, but he had just five touchdown catches, down from 16 in 2011. The Ravens had their hands full with Johnson in the preseason last year; he played barely a half and had five catches for 111 yards and a touchdown.
The return of Nate Burleson should also help the Lions passing game. He had 73 catches in 2011 but missed most of last season with a broken leg.
For Stafford to succeed, though, the Lions need to keep him on his feet. The Lions have lost both starting tackles from last season, with Jeff Backus retiring and Gosder Cherilus moving to Indianapolis. Riley Reiff, a first-round draft pick last year, is expected to take Backus' job at left tackle.
The Lions running game, which ranked 23rd in the league, should get a boost with the arrival of Reggie Bush from Miami.
Defensively, Ndamukong Suh remains a force when he isn’t being suspended or getting ill-advised penalties. He had eight sacks last season, tops among returnees with Clif Avril (9 ½ sacks) moving to Seattle. The Lions added to their front seven by taking BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah with the No. 5 overall pick in the draft.
Cornerback Darius Slay, a second-round pick, joins a secondary that also picked up free agent safety Glover Quin from Houston.
Lions longtime kicker Jason Hanson has retired, and the Lions have signed former 49ers kicker David Akers to replace him. Akers was a record-setter in 2011 but struggled so much last year that he was nearly replaced by Billy Cundiff late in the season.
The Ravens and Lions will square off before a national televison audience on Monday Night Football, but that could come with a cost. The Ravens will have to make the late trip home and then have a short week to prepare for the Patriots, who visit in Week 16.