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Ravens-Lions Preview

By ALAN FERGUSON

STATS Writer

(AP) -- The Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions are both in position for playoff berths, but only one of them has made significant progress toward reaching that goal lately.

The surging Ravens, though, have also struggled on the road this season and will try to end those woes Monday night while dealing the host Lions another blow in NFC North race.

Baltimore (7-6) currently holds the final AFC wild-card spot, but only by a tiebreaker over Miami. The Ravens, who also lead San Diego and the New York Jets by one game, maintained that position by coming out on top in a wild game with Minnesota this past weekend.

The teams combined for 36 points in the final 2:05, with Baltimore scoring 22. The Ravens capped their incredible finish to that 29-26 victory with Joe Flacco's 9-yard pass to Marlon Brown with four seconds to go.

Its third straight win also kept Baltimore two games behind Cincinnati in the AFC North, but the Ravens will face three straight division leaders to conclude the regular season. Two of those games are on the road, including a visit to the Bengals in the regular season finale Dec. 29.

Baltimore is 1-5 away from home, losing its last three there.

"I think we've won the close games at home and we haven't won them on the road. That's the bottom line," coach John Harbaugh said. "We've done the things we needed to do to win tight games at home and we haven't done the things we've needed to do on the road. It's us."

The Lions (7-6) have had trouble in most of their recent games no matter where they've played, dropping three of four. They blew out Green Bay 40-10 on Thanksgiving but their inability to close out games resurfaced in Philadelphia this past weekend.

Detroit gave up 28 points in the final 15 minutes in a 34-20 loss - its third blown fourth-quarter lead in the past three weeks - and dropped into a tie with Chicago atop the division. The Lions own the tiebreaker thanks to their two wins over the Bears but know they have to get back on track quickly if they want to win their first division title since 1993.

"We'll just take this slap in the face and hope it wakes us up," cornerback Chris Houston said. "We have two straight home games and we have to go get them. We can't get down on ourselves. We are still in a good position in our division. I think we like when our backs are against the wall."

Detroit has committed a combined five turnovers in the final quarters of its last three losses and totaled 20 giveaways in its past six games.

"It's tough to win football games when you turn the ball over," said quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has seven interceptions and two fumbles in the last four games. "We know that. We're doing everything that we can to correct it."

Baltimore has forced just four turnovers in its last four games after tallying 13 in its first nine, but sacks leader Elvis Dumervil may return after a one-game absence due to a sprained left ankle.

"We're starting to get healthier. We're starting to put it together as a team," Flacco said. "We just need to start putting it together for a full 60 minutes and see where it takes us."

The Ravens, however, might face a motivated Calvin Johnson after Baltimore rookie safety Matt Elam called the All-Pro receiver "old" following some initial compliments.

"He's pretty old, so I don't know how physical he'll be," Elam said. "He's a big guy, but he's older. I guess when they get older they're not going to be as physical, you know what I'm saying? We're going to have to be physical, make him uncomfortable."

The Lions could also get leading rusher Reggie Bush back from a calf injury that kept him out of the loss to Philadelphia. Bush needs 147 yards to surpass 1,000 for the second time in his career.

Bush, though, was listed as questionable.

Baltimore has won two of its three meetings with the Lions and routed them 48-3 in the most recent one Dec. 13, 2009. The Ravens are making their second trip to Detroit and were beaten 35-17 in the other one Oct. 9, 2005.

Updated December 14, 2013

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