The Baltimore Ravens remain in the playoff hunt in the AFC despite a passing offense that rates as the worst in the NFL. The Detroit Lions, who visit the Ravens on Sunday, are on the outside of the NFC postseason picture despite a passing offense that ranks in the top 10 and a scoring offense putting up an average of 26.7 points - fifth in the NFL.
That Lions offense is led by quarterback Matthew Stafford, who came out of a 30-23 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Thanksgiving with an ankle injury but practiced fully on Wednesday and is expected to play against the Ravens. Stafford threw seven touchdown passes and two interceptions in the last four games - winning the first three - and is well on his way to a seventh straight season of at least 4,000 yards passing. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is not quite on the same pace and is last among NFL quarterbacks in yards per attempt at 5.34. “It may not look pretty moving forward,” Flacco told reporters, “but we are going to do what we have to do to win football games and put ourselves in a good position at the end of the games to win them.”
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Ravens -2.5. O/U: 43
ABOUT THE LIONS (6-5): Detroit could get a boost on defense this week from veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney, who is expected to make his team debut after being claimed off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks last week. Freeney, 37, recorded three sacks in four games with the Seahawks before a surprising release and Detroit is excited to have him in the defensive line rotation. “He’s still got juice,” Detroit coach Jim Caldwell told reporters. “You take a look. He’s been productive anytime that he’s been on the field, and we’ll expect him to be productive for us as well. How we’ll use him? We’ll make a real good determination of that as we go through the week. But he’ll be able to do something for us.”
ABOUT THE RAVENS (6-5): Flacco is getting some help from the running game led by Alex Collins, who returned to practice on Thursday after missing a day with a calf injury. Collins failed to rush for more than 60 yards in any of the last three games but has not lost a fumble since Oct. 1, and ball security is a key for Baltimore’s struggling offense. “You do what you have to do to win football games, especially in the second half when we get up on teams and our defense is turning the ball over,” Flacco told reporters. “You get to a point in the game, where it is like, ‘All right, we have this game won, unless we do something crazy.’”
1. Lions C Travis Swanson (knee) and G T.J. Lang (foot) did not practice on Thursday.
2. Baltimore LT Ronnie Stanley (knee) participated in practice on Thursday and could return on Sunday.
3. Detroit OC Jim Bob Cooter, who was a backup quarterback at Tennessee, had no interest in discussing the Volunteers’ open head coaching job when asked by reporters.
PREDICTION: Lions 24, Ravens 17