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12/9/2013 8:10:00 AM
The Baltimore Ravens kept their AFC Wild
Card hopes alive in Week 14. Can the Detroit Lions stay on top of the NFC North
in Week 15? They’re –6 at home on the opening NFL lines.
record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to December 7 inclusive:
ML (+0.71 units)
Ho-hum. Another game for the Baltimore
Ravens, another ridiculous comeback engineered by Joe Flacco. On a very snowy
Sunday afternoon in Baltimore, the Ravens and the Minnesota Vikings started
trading touchdowns late in the fourth quarter, but Flacco drove the Ravens 80
yards with under a minute to play, finding Marlon Brown in the end zone for the
winning score. Make the final: Baltimore 29, Vikings (+6 away) 26. The Ravens
are now 7-6 SU and 6-7 ATS, keeping pace with the Miami Dolphins for the last
Wild Card berth in the AFC.
You call that snow? The Detroit Lions had
it even worse on Sunday, getting buried under a blanket of white in a 34-20
loss to the Philadelphia Eagles (–2.5 at home) and falling to 7-6 SU and 6-7
ATS. That’s still enough to hold onto first place in the NFC North, but it’s a
tenuous hold with the resurgent Ravens about to visit Ford Field for Monday Night Football (8:30 p.m. ET,
ESPN). The early Week 15 NFL lines have Detroit laying six points with a total
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Flacco
pull his team’s fat out of the fire. But it is the first time we’ve seen the
Baltimore offense in full flourish this year, or at least close to it. Getting
TE Dennis Pitta (hip) back into the lineup was key; Pitta grabbed six catches
for 48 yards and a touchdown in his season debut as Flacco was able to spread
the ball around the field. RB Ray Rice had one of his better games this year
(3.9 yards per carry, five catches) with some of the pressure taken off.
This is a very encouraging development for
a Baltimore offense that had slipped all the way to No. 30 on the efficiency
charts (No. 23 pass, No. 32 rush) heading into Week 14. But it wasn’t a
textbook performance against Minnesota by any means. Flacco threw three
interceptions to go with his three touchdown passes, and it took a 77-yard
kick-off return TD by Jacoby Jones to keep Baltimore afloat during those two
frantic final minutes.
Lions in Winter
As for the Lions, they allowed Eagles RB
LeSean McCoy to rush for a team-record 217 yards, and two of Detroit’s three
touchdowns were on special teams: a 58-yard punt return and a 98-yard kick-off
return, both by Jeremy Ross. It was almost all Philadelphia otherwise. Lions QB
Matthew Stafford finished the day with 148 yards and a 60.1 passer rating. RB
Joique Bell, filling in for the injured Reggie Bush, was held to 69 yards on 23
carries and fumbled away the ball twice in the red zone.
Bell is a quality tailback, and has been
outperforming Bush on the ground this year (93 rushing DYAR to 26), but Detroit
needs both men healthy if that No. 24-ranked rushing offense is going to keep
the Lions afloat. Bush reportedly aggravated a calf injury during warm-ups and
stayed on the sidelines throughout the game, rather than risk further damage.
Provided there isn’t some kind of
roof-related issue at Ford Field, snow won’t be a problem when the Lions host
the Ravens. But will Bush be involved? He refused to talk to reporters after
the Eagles loss, and the team had no comment on his injury, so we’re left
waiting for further details to emerge. In the meantime, I’m willing to
recommend Baltimore as a road dog now that Detroit has lost three
of four SU and ATS. The regression bandwagon was fun while it lasted.
Pick: Take the Ravens +6 (–102) at Pinnacle