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Five Key Matchups to Watch for in Tonight’s Game Between Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions

December 16th, 2013 at 7:55 AM
By Josh Michael

It's game day Ravens Nation, and you know what that means, it's time once again for our five key matchups of the game and tonight will present several matchups that will be fun to watch. This game is a crucial game for both the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens as they have playoff hopes to keep alive.

There are always several key matchups in every game, but we dig through them all to bring you our absolute five most critical in order for the Ravens to come out on top.

'Calvin Johnson' photo (c) 2012, Mike Morbeck - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Jimmy Smith vs Calvin Johnson

The Ravens like to leave Smith on one side and Lardarius Webb on the other as opposed to straight matching up with a receiver, thus Smith will have the task of covering one of the game's greatest receivers to ever play the game in Johnson. Webb will also get his chances against Johnson, as well as the safeties with over the top help, but Smith and Johnson will be the matchup to watch. Smith will likely end up lined up against Johnson more than anyone else, and his resurgence this season will be put to the test tonight.

Daryl Smith vs Reggie Bush

Although it is still not certain whether or not Bush will play tonight, we expect him to and Smith is going to have his hands full. Bush is one of the more dynamic running backs in the game and is as equally as dangerous in the passing game as he is in the running game. Smith may not be covering Bush one on one most of the game, but he will find himself in that situation frequently and the Ravens chances may hinge on how well Smith handles Bush. Smith will also have to keep Bush from reaching the third level on running plays and beat him up a little bit when he does run the ball up the middle, the more you wear down Bush, the slower he becomes later in the game and the more likely he is to simply "avoid" the tackle.

Ravens Running Game vs Lions Run Defense

The Lions are one of six teams in the NFL holding opponents to under 100 rushing yards per game through 14 weeks and this will be a very important matchup for Baltimore. The Ravens have struggled running the ball all season with a few exceptions here and there, but Baltimore will not have to rush for 100 yards in order to win this game, they will simply have to show the Lions that they are willing to run the ball in order to keep them from sending their pass rush on every play. If Baltimore can end up having a successful running game, look out for a big day for either Torrey Smith or Jacoby Jones, because the play action passing game will be a valuable weapon.

Turnovers

One of the most important things to look at when you analyze the result of a football game, but the turnover margin may be the absolute most critical, other than the score obviously. We have a strong feeling that whichever team turns the ball over less tonight is going to win because this is going to be a high scoring game, and when it comes to those types of games, turnovers end up being even more crucial because it gives the opposing team one more drive in a game that see's almost every drive end up in points.

Playoff Urgency

Both the Ravens and Lions are coming in needing a win to keep there playoff chances alive and both also still have a chance at winning their divisions. Baltimore was given a bit of a gift last night as the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals, thus giving the Ravens control of their own destiny. If the Ravens win their remaining three games, which includes tonight and a week 17 contest against the Bengals, they will win the AFC North. Whichever team, the Lions or Ravens, can keep their head on straight and not push the panic button if things are not going the way they would like it tonight, will likely come out on top.

These are our five key matchups to watch for tonight, what are yours? Did we miss an obvious one? Let your voice be heard by posting a comment!


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Tags: Baltimore, Baltimore Ravens, Calvin Johnson, Daryl Smith, Football, Jacoby Jones, Jimmy Smith, NFL, Torrey Smith

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