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Mark Zinno: Ravens Reactive – Week 15 Preview

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(Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

(Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

KEY MATCHUP: Calvin Johnson vs. the Ravens secondary. Matt Elam didn’t do his teammates any favors this week calling the game’s best wide receiver “pretty old” … despite the fact that Johnson just turned 28. The last time a player called Johnson’s skill into question, all he did was go off for 329 yards receiving. Trash talk aside, the Ravens secondary will be asked to come up again big. Jimmy Smith has handled mostly every challenge thrown his way so far, here’s one more.

THE RAVENS WIN IF: They can force Matt Stafford into throwing interceptions. Stafford is a gambler. He takes a lot of chances and makes some questionable decisions. If the Ravens can turn those gambles into mistakes, they will have a chance to keep up with the Lions high scoring offense. They will also need Terrell Suggs to get one of those things called … a sack! He’s been without one the last five games.

THE RAVENS LOSE IF: Reggie Bush blows up. Bush is averaging nearly five yards per carry. He’s an incredible threat in the passing game. After watching Cordarrell Patterson cut through the Ravens defense in the snow, Reggie Bush could have a field day on the fast turf at Ford Field.

FANTASY TIP: Dennis Pitta is back! Start him. He was targeted 11 times last week. Joe Flacco has his favorite target back. He will get plenty of opportunities on Sunday. And he certainly will be a target in the red zone.

WHAT’S AT STAKE: Two 7-6 teams who can’t lose a game the rest of the way out. The Lions need to hold onto first place in the NFC North. The Ravens need to hold onto the final playoff spot in the AFC. The Lions are tough at home. The Ravens are awful on the road. Something will have to give. Plus, both teams will know EXACTLY what is at stake because they play on Monday night!

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