Baltimore Beatdown: I'll be honest -- I feel like the Lions have the talent to be a top 5 NFL team. Yet they've lost some games they probably shouldn't have and turn the ball over a ton. Who's to blame here and why can't this team be as consistent as other teams that boast the kind of offensive firepower they do?
Sean Yuille: There's a lot of blame to go around for the Lions' inconsistent ways. Matthew Stafford himself is a very inconsistent quarterback, and many players on the offensive side of the ball struggle to avoid turnovers. And the defense can't seem to consistently put together four full quarters of solid play. Much like last year, they often collapse when a stop is needed most in the fourth quarter. Clearly, the players deserve a good portion of the blame, but ultimately this goes back to the coaches and Jim Schwartz in particular. That's why his seat has warmed up so much over the last month or so.
BB: With Baltimore's running game non-existent for most of the year, do you expect the Lions' front seven to turn up the pressure against the Ravens' offensive line?
SY: For sure. The Lions had a horrific fourth quarter against the run last week, but I'm going to chalk that up to a combination of the snow and being gassed because they were on the field so much in the second half in Philly. Aside from that game, the Lions' run defense has been stellar as of late, and I can't imagine the Ravens will have much success on the ground.
BB: Joe Flacco is slightly better in dome stadiums, though he barely plays in them. When you watch Matthew Stafford inside Ford Field compared to when he plays outdoors, do you see a noticeable difference?
SY: Stafford definitely seems more comfortable playing indoors. That really goes for the Lions in general since they're a dome team. This offense is built to be explosive, and it's built to beat teams through the air. The run game has been much better this season, but the Lions offense is able to function much more smoothly inside rather than outdoors in the elements.
BB: The Ravens have had a big weapon in kicker Justin Tucker this year. If the game comes down to the wire, do you see the Ravens holding an advantage in that department over David Akers, who's been shaky throughout the year?
SY: I'll put it this way: If the Lions need a last-second field goal to win the game, most fans probably would expect Akers to miss it. Shaky is a good way to describe his performance this season, and really it's a good way to describe the field-goal unit in general. Akers has had a couple kicks blocked, and he had an extra point blocked in the snow last week. Generally speaking, there's just not much confidence in that unit, and there's especially not much confidence in Akers. The Lions definitely miss Jason Hanson.
BB: What's a better defensive strategy in your estimation — keying on Calvin Johnson or containing Reggie Bush? It seems it's a pick-your-poison kind of deal since both playmakers are dangerous within their skill sets.
SY: The Lions can definitely beat you on the ground with Bush or on screens and other passes to him, but Johnson can take over a game. That's why I think the best bet is to focus on stopping Megatron first. This makes Stafford have to look at his other targets, which don't have nearly as much talent, and it takes the Lions out of their comfort zone a bit. There have been times this season where Megatron has seemingly disappeared from the game plan, and usually we notice this because the offense isn't able to move the ball. Containing Bush is important, but Johnson is the best wide receiver in football.