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Ravens Defeat the Lions to Make the AFC North Race More Interesting

On Monday night, the Baltimore Ravens (8-6) continued their march to the playoffs with an 18-16 win over the Detroit Lions (7-6).

The MVP of the game was Ravens kicker Justin Tucker with his six field goals; one included a team record of 61 yards and a career high for Tucker. This came with 38 seconds remaining in the game as the Ravens were behind 16-15.

Justin Tucker

Justin Tucker

Tucker said of the kick via the Associated Press, “If they send me out there, they have reason to. It’s because they think I can make the kick.” And they should as Tucker hasn’t missed a kick since Week 2 and he now holds the league’s longest streak since former Ravens kicker Matt Stover hit 36 straight ones in the 2005-06 season, according to STATS.

After the game-winning kick, the Lions grabbed possession for one last time but quarterback Matt Stafford threw a game-ending interception to Ravens rookie safety Matt Elam. For the night, Stafford had three picks and in his last five games, he’s had 12 turnovers and two fumbles. He also went 18 of 34, 235 yards, one touchdown with a 48 quarterback rating–a season low.

As for the Ravens, in addition to using Tucker to get the win, quarterback Joe Flacco was solid, going 20 of 38 and 222 yards. He suffered a hit to the knee from a helmet but he shook it off and returned to the game. Afterwards, he said he was fine.

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones was key for the game with his six receptions for 80 yards while running back Ray Rice had 12 carries for 56 yards.

But the real story is the playoff implications from the game. The Ravens have now won four straight games and have the final AFC spot with its No. 6 seed. They are seeking a sixth straight postseason visit and a repeat chance to go to the Super Bowl.

The Ravens can win the AFC North for a third consecutive year as they sit one game behind the Cincinnati Bengals (9-5) but they’ll need to win out. If they endure a loss, they could miss the playoffs.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of the team after Monday’s win via ESPN, “The thing I love about our football team is that we are a team of faith. We believe. We trust. Because of that, we’ll fight. We will run the race right down to the end. That’s something that our football team does. I’m very proud of them for that.”

But can they have a repeat this year? The Ravens sit at 50/1 to win the 2014 Super Bowl.

As for the Lions, they have now lost four of their last five games and saw their NFC North lead end with Monday’s loss. They now sit in third spot behind the Chicago Bears (8-6) and the Green Bay Packers (7-7). Rumors are now swirling that should the Lions miss the postseason, coach Jim Schwartz can say goodbye to his job.

The Lions sit at 40/1 to win the 2014 Super Bowl.

Looking ahead to Week 16, the Ravens will try to keep their streak alive when they play the New England Patriots (10-4) on Sunday.

As for the rest of the AFC North, the Bengals playoff picture just got a little murkier with the Ravens win.

Andy Dalton

Andy Dalton

This weekend if they defeat the Minnesota Vikings (4-9), they could still not make it to the playoffs if they lose to the Ravens in the regular season finale. At that point in time, both the Bengals and Ravens could enter it with 10-6 records. The Ravens own the tiebreaker thanks to their 2-0 sweep versus the Bengals this season.

You know the Bengals are hoping for a Patriots win this weekend.

They should get the win this Sunday against the Vikings  (-7.5, 48 o/u) and sit at 16/1 to win the 2014 Super Bowl.

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