The Ravens will be making a trip to Detroit with a bit of retribution on their minds.

Although the last time they faced the Lions, the Ravens won in convincing fashion.  Nevertheless, the previous visit to Ford Field is still a painful memory for remaining team members from that day.

One guy who had one of the worst times was good ol’ Terrell Suggs, who was ejected from that game. The team got a franchise worst 21 penalties, 1 shy of the NFL record, and it’s hit-or-miss whether all of the penalties were justifiable.

During the week, our rookie Matt Elam was asked about star Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, and while he answered mostly positive, he said a stupid line that got the main coverage. (Thankfully, it will likely be Jimmy Smith covering Johnson for the most part, and he’s improved so much this season.) Some other Ravens players have put in their two cents since then, but it remains to be seen whether that will make Johnson come at us much harder.

Right now, Johnson is entering Jerry Rice level dominance in the league. If he keeps it up, he could end up shattering Rice’s impossible records.  Although, to compare, its like saying Flacco has a good shot at topping Brett Favre’s record of consecutive starts, which would take at least another decade of playing.

At the current moment, the Lions are barely leading the NFC North while the Ravens are still 2 games behind in the AFC North. Both the Bears and Packers are chomping at the bit to take the division crown. Everyone in the NFC is hoping that the Packers don’t get a shot, as they still are deciding on whether or not to bring back Aaron Rodgers this season.

The Bears, meanwhile, have the better shot at wrestling away the division title. We’ve seen what they’re capable of even with their 2nd string QB. Few teams have that luxury (the Browns found some ways to win early on with backup QBs who look to become future starters).

The Lions are mired in a rough spot after dropping 3 of their last 4 games, and that was during the far easier part of their schedule! Something is happening up there, and it may be like 2011.

I haven’t seen references yet, but I do believe the Lions are now hitting the same decline that they had encountered two seasons ago. That year, they had the division under their control early, but went through a mid-year losing streak that almost kept them away from the postseason.

The Ravens are in good shape for making the postseason for a 6th straight year, unless you hear information from other sources. Everything seems stacked up against them, and many sports “analysts” predict the Ravens will drop either 2 or 3 games to end the season. It’s a mentality that highly places other teams over the Ravens in many circumstances, without considering that the Ravens may also be an elite team themselves.

Take, for example, the remaining teams they have to face and who those teams will play.  The Bengals are our last opponent of the year, and on Sunday will face off against the Steelers who are all but eliminated from the postseason. Last year, the Bengals dropped the final nail in the coffin on Pittsburgh’s season. Don’t you think this could be an upset game that will hurt Cincinnati?

Early on in the week, I saw postings from Dolphins fans who are so amped up about their guys making the playoffs. Despite that the Ravens are holding the 6th seed position & have the tiebreaker over Miami, those fans are convinced that since their schedule appears easier, the Dolphins are definitely going to the playoffs.

Here’s the problem: they will face off against the Patriots this Sunday, who have more to play for, suddenly. Since the Broncos were actually upset on Thursday by the Chargers, this opens up an opportunity for the Pats to end up with the #1 playoff seeding. Also, as New England has recognized that the Ravens are actually very tough for them to play against, they absolutely need to get wins. So, with the Dolphins coming to town, and being a divisional opponent, doesn’t this appear to be a game they absolutely must win?

Also, we mustn’t forget the Lions’ and the teams they have remaining. This could be a repeat of the 2011 season, where the Lions were also in great shape but then dropped a couple games before just making the playoffs. Following the Ravens game, they face both the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings. Those two teams have had terrible seasons and no realistic shot at the playoffs. The Lions have a very real shot at winning both of those games.

Also, Chicago ends its season with a somewhat tougher slate: they face the ever more unpredictable Browns on Sunday in Cleveland, and then visit the high flying Eagles & finish their season against the Packers. If the Lions do lose against the Ravens, they seem to have a much easier path at still winning the division than either the Bears or Packers.

So what it comes down to is who needs to win this game more. Right now, it looks like the Ravens want it more, and we should expect to see quite a competitive game on Monday night.

Make sure to catch what should be a high scoring game, where both teams have allowed a lot of 40+ yard plays this season (#s 1 & 2). Enjoy the game and go Ravens!