The Ravens (4-2) will face the Detroit Lions (5-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday in Baltimore. Here are predictions from The Baltimore Banner’s sports staff.
Kyle Goon, columnist
Let’s give a tip of the cap to George Plimpton here: Are these Paper Lions? Aside from a season-opening win against Kansas City, their 5-1 record has been built against suspect competition. While half the battle in this league is beating mediocre teams, I question if the confidence in the Lions is built on a résumé that comes out a little thin under scrutiny.
The hardest part of the game plan for the Ravens will be getting to Jared Goff, who has an impressive offensive line. If he has a clean pocket, he picks defenses apart. If he hears footsteps, his performance suffers. While the win over the Titans was unimpressive, my impression is it’s the kind of “get right“ win that gets the Ravens back on track. Here’s a bet that Roquan Smith, Patrick Queen and the defense lead the Ravens against a team that hasn’t faced a defense this good to date.
Ravens 23, Lions 20
Jonas Shaffer, reporter
The Lions are the best team the Ravens have faced this season, but how much does that actually matter? The Cincinnati Bengals were supposed to be too much for the injury-depleted Ravens in Week 2, only to lose rather convincingly. The Cleveland Browns were supposed to have an impenetrable defense entering Week 4, only to give up three touchdowns in the first half.
This Ravens team, for better and for worse, seems to play to the level of its opponent. In a game as evenly matched as this, the edge goes to the home team.
Ravens 21, Lions 20
Aron Yohannes, reporter
Although the Ravens’ defense is cooking right now, their offense is still working through some kinks under new coordinator Todd Monken. The trip back from London might result in another rough showing against a hot and balanced Lions team that should still be in good shape, even without running back David Montgomery.
Lions 28, Ravens 17
Giana Han, reporter
If the Ravens keep up their win-lose-win-lose pattern, then things are looking good for the Lions. While you’d think the Ravens would be primed to build on the momentum from their game in London, they’ve actually followed their past two road wins with losses.
The Lions are exactly the type of team that will capitalize on all the self-inflicted wounds that have marred the Ravens’ season thus far. Detroit’s offense is, according to many Ravens players, the best they’ve seen this season. Meanwhile, the Ravens are struggling to end drives with more than a field goal. That won’t cut it against a team of this caliber.
Lions 21, Ravens 17
Chris Korman, editor
It’s been fascinating to watch Lamar Jackson and Todd Monken try to figure this thing out, with at once thrilling and frustrating results. It’s almost as if Jackson gets so excited to be running an offense tailored to what he actually does well — rather than just defaulting to, “He’s fast and shifty” — that he short-circuits about three times a game.
But Jackson’s getting more comfortable, and beginning to understand what it truly means to distribute the ball to a diverse set of receivers. I’m guessing the recent red-zone issues get fixed and defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald figures out a way to give Jared Goff, who is fine if he can stay in rhythm and make simple reads, a picture that throws him off just enough.
Ravens 23, Lions 21
Brandon Weigel, editor
If we are to question whether the Ravens are for real because of the quarterbacks they’ve faced, we must also wonder whether the Jared Goff-aissance can be counted on when he’s facing a top-tier passing defense. In Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs (fourth in yards per attempt allowed), he did just enough to outperform a Travis Kelce-less Patrick Mahomes, throwing for 253 yards and one touchdown. It was a little uglier against the Green Bay Packers (ninth in yards per game), with only 210 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Running back David Montgomery went off for 121 yards and three scores, though, so not much was asked of Goff.
Count me among the true believers in Mike Macdonald’s defense; I can’t see the resurgent Goff torching them. On the ground, Montgomery is out this week, and rookie Jahmyr Gibbs has returned to practice in a limited capacity. But, in a lot of ways, this game sets up similarly to last week’s against the Titans, which spells trouble for the Ravens’ offense. Expect lots of field goals, and with the fog of the London trip still lingering over the Ravens, Detroit ends up with the kick that seals it.
Lions 19, Ravens 16