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Lions Suffer Costly Loss To Ravens

A fourth loss in five games has Calvin Johnson and the Lions looking up at the Bears and Packers.

A fourth loss in five games has Calvin Johnson and the Lions looking up at the Bears and Packers.

The Detroit Lions’ playoff hopes were handed a huge blow Monday night as the Baltimore Ravens stole a win in the Motor City.

In what was a low-scoring affair at Ford Field, it was Ravens kicker Justin Tucker who emerged a hero, kicking a franchise-high six field goals including the game-winner from 61 yards.

The Lions jumped out to an early 7-0 lead thanks to Reggie Bush’s 14-yard scoring run on the opening drive of the game but the Motown side struggled from that point forward.

Matt Stafford completed just 18 of 34 passes on the day, tallying 235 yards and a touchdown. More crucially he threw three interceptions which the Lions were unable to parry as the game progressed.

Joe Flacco’s numbers were nothing to write home about either. He completed 20 of 38 passes for 222 yards and failed to register a touchdown. In fact, the Ravens as a team failed to cross the plane of the goal. However, Flacco threw no interceptions and was sacked just once as he led the Ravens into field goal range on six occasions. From there it was down to Tucker’s perfect boot.

The Ravens took a 12-7 lead after Tucker’s fourth field goal midway through the third quarter. The Lions fought back with a field goal of their own, which was matched by Tucker’s fifth. The Lions eventually retook the lead in the fourth quarter after Stafford found Joseph Fauria for a 14-yard touchdown. The Lions went for the two-point conversion, which would have given them a three-point lead, but failed to convert.

With just 2:21 left on the clock, the Lions were in a position to reclaim top spot in the NFC North especially when the side forced the Ravens into a fourth-and-8 on Detroit’s 43-yard line. Trailing by one, John Harbaugh turned to Tucker.

Tucker rewarded his head coach with a 61-yard blast that barely cleared the upright. But barely was enough on this night.

The Lions were left with 38 seconds to find a win but all hope was extinguished as rookie Matt Elam picked off Stafford to end the game.

Justin Tucker celebrates his 61-yard game-winning field goal.

Justin Tucker celebrates his 61-yard game-winning field goal.

Vegas Impact

The 18-16 final score saw Baltimore (7-7-0 ATS) cover the spread for the fourth time in six games. Meanwhile, Detroit (6-8-0 ATS) failed to cover for the fourth time in five games and the seventh time in 10 games.

Those are some very distinctive betting trends bettors should keep in mind as we close out the season.

The low-scoring game saw the total go under. The Lions (8-6-0) have typically favored the over and have only seen the total go under in three of their last nine games. The Ravens (5-8-1) have very much favored the under this season, although Monday night’s game marked the first time in three games Harbaugh’s side watched the total go under.

The Playoff Picture

NFC: Detroit (7-7) has now lost four of its last five and Monday night’s loss may be the most consequential of all. The 18-16 defeat sees the Lions fall to third place in the NFC North, behind the Chicago Bears (8-6) and Green Bay Packers (7-6-1).

The Lions have the easier run in, on paper at least, with games against the New York Giants (5-9) and Minnesota Vikings (4-9-1), both out of the playoff picture. The Packers and Bears each play two games against playoff hopefuls, including a Week 17 head-to-head showdown which could decide the division champion.

With the Carolina Panthers (10-4) and San Francisco 49ers (10-4) both picking up wins this weekend, the wild card berth is out of the picture for both the NFC North and NFC East, which means two of the three NFC North representatives are going to be unhappy come December 29.

NFC_standings_wk15AFC: Baltimore (8-6) remains firmly entrenched in the AFC playoff picture thanks to Monday night’s win. In fact, the Ravens are now just one-game back of the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals (9-5), who fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8) this week on Sunday Night Football. The two sides are scheduled to meet in Week 17, a meeting which could decide the division title.

The loser of that Week 17 fixture will still have a shot at the playoffs via the wild card route. The Ravens are currently one of four teams playing for the one remaining wild card berth – the Denver Broncos (11-3) and Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) have ensured the other is occupied.

The Miami Dolphins (8-6), San Diego Chargers (7-7) and Pittsburgh are the other teams remaining in the hunt.

Baltimore’s win means the New York Jets (6-8) are mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. Even if the Jets win out, they’ll at best match the Ravens in terms of end-of-season record, but Baltimore’s 19-3 victory on November 24 would separate the two teams.

AFC_standings_wk15BettingSports.com will continue to bring you the latest developments in the playoff picture as the NFL season draws towards its conclusion.

Right now you can find the latest Week 16 odds.

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