1. Ravens offensive line vs Lions defensive line
The main weakness for the Ravens offense this year is their offensive line. Tonight they will face one of the better defensive lines in football. The Lions line is anchored by DT Ndamukong Suh and DE Cliff Avril. Suh will be a big battle for veteran G Bobbie Williams who was only signed a few weeks. Avril will mainly match up against RT Michael Oher, that is if you trust the depth chart on the Lions website. Expect C Matt Birk to mainly help Williams with Suh as the Ravens best lineman, Marshal Yanda, should be able to control the rotation of DT Corey Williams and DT Nick Fairley. On the other end LT Bryant McKinnie should start this game so he will face DE Kyle Vanden-Bosch (if he plays) who still is a good pass rusher despite his age. It may only be preseason but if the line can control Detroit then the offense should be fine for the regular season.
2. Ravens secondary vs Lions passing attack
The Ravens CBs is one of the best young groups in the NFL. They will get a big test against the Lions who pass most of time. If the Lions wanted to they could play a whole game without a RB with Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Titus Young, and Ryan Broyles and WR and Brandon Pettigrew at TE. At QB there is Matt Stafford who passed for over 5,000 yards last season. The main battle will be Calvin Johnson vs whoever covers him. Expect S Ed Reed to shade over to Johnson’s side of the field. Ravens CB Cary Williams will try to bounce back after a terrible game against the Falcons. Second year player Jimmy Smith could take Williams starting spot with a good preseason but he needs to stay healthy (he injured his back again this week). If the secondary holds up to the Lions it will allow coordinator Dean Pees to call more blitzes as he can trust the back end to hold up.
1. RB Bernard Pierce
Pierce missed last game with a bad hamstring but he is supposed to be fine now. He stood on the sideline watching Bobby Rainey play a great game. Pierce should be the number two back this year as long as he can stay healthy. It will be interesting to see him play so we know what to expect when Ray Rice goes out for a breather.
2. OLBs Sergio Kindle and Albert McClellan
With DPOY Terrell Suggs out for most of the year with a torn achilles the Ravens will need their other OLBs to step up. While neither of these two are expected to start they will need to contribute this year as Courtney Upshaw and Paul Kruger can’t play every snap. Kindle finally has had a full offseason to work with the team as he missed his whole rookie season with a head injury and then the lockout messed up last year. This year presents a big opportunity for Kindle with Suggs out for a while. If he doesn’t produce this year then his last chance will be next year and he won’t get such a good chance as this year. McClellan isn’t even talked about much by Ravens fans but he can play. Last year with Ray Lewis out he stepped in to play ILB against the 49ers and performed well. This year he is playing outside due to a lack of depth and has his chance. Before the team drafted Upshaw, McClellan was expected to have a chance for more playing time at OLB. McClellan was also the teams leading tackler on special teams last year. While he may not get the publicity of other Ravens LBs McClellan quietly has produced and the coaching staff has noticed.