Baltimore Ravens (7-6 SU, 6-7 ATS) vs. Detroit Lions (7-6 SU, 6-7 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date and Time: Monday Night Football, December 16, 2013, 8:40 pm EST
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.
TV: ESPN/DirecTV 206
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BAL. +6/DET. -6
Over/Under Total: 48.5
The Detroit Lions have had their chances to put a chokehold on the chase pack in the NFC North division, but the young Lions havent found a way to do that yet and with three weeks left in the regular season theyre in a fight to stay in the NFC playoff picture.
Its time for the Detroit Lions to show everyone if they truly are ready for primetime,
starting this week when they host the defending champion Baltimore
Ravens in a battle of two 7-6 teams fighting for playoff scraps
on ESPNs rendition of Monday Night Football.
Detroit went into last week with a one-game lead in the NFC North and serious momentum following a huge Thanksgiving Day win over the rival Packers, but the Lions really proved they are a Dome-team from a Northern city because they truly looked lost in a 34-20 loss last weeks snowstorm at Philadelphia. The Lions had seven fumbles and barely 200 yards of offense, so if they want to even daydream about playing indoors in the playoffs, they better start putting together a run.
Baltimore is a team that wont go away yet this year, putting together a three-game win streak here at the end of the season to climb right back to the front of the AFC Wildcard pack. Last weeks huge comeback win over the Minnesota Vikings, 29-26, featured a kickoff return for a score and five lead changes in the final two minutes. But with games against the Lions, Patriots and AFC North leading Bengals in the final three weeks of the season, the Ravens are certainly going to earn their spot if they can keep their lead in the wild card chase.
When the opening point spreads were released late on Sunday, the Lions opened as solid 5-point favorites at home in Ford Field. However, the number has seen a little of early-week line movement, going up to minus -6 at most sportsbooks both in Las Vegas and offshore. The over/under total opened at 45 and has gone up over three points to 48 or 48.5 at most books.
The fast-rising total may be in part to the way both teams played defense in their last games.
Baltimores defense played well until the offense gave them a lead to hold, then they decided to let the Vikings back in it twice, with costly big plays that took about 15 seconds combined. With the style of offense the Lions will bring into Mondays game plan, one with plenty of Matthew Stafford throws to weapons like Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush against the Ravens 14th-ranked pass defense (232 ypg) could pose more big play problems.
The Ravens and Joe Flacco have pretty much become a throwing offense this season, since Ray Rice (only 549 yards) and the Ravens run game (82 ypg 29th) is non-existent. The Lions defense was shredded by Philly last week and will be determined to save-face at home this week, which could mean a good chance for Flacco over the top in play-action against the Lions and their 25th-ranked secondary (256 ypg).
Since this is an every-four-years AFC-NFC game, historical numbers will mean very little. Baltimore did crush the Lions in 2009 (48-3) when Daunte Culpepper was QB-ing the Lions, but historically its pretty even (Lions 4-3 SU, 5-2 ATS since 1986). The home team is 4-0 ATS though.
Baltimore is 6-2 ATS on Monday Night Football recently, but only 1-8 ATS in their last nine games in December. Detroit is 5-2 ATS following an ATS loss this year, so they rebound well, but they are also a poor closing team going 1-5 ATS in December.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m pretty confident that the Ravens cover the number here. I’m betting the Ravens plus the points.