The records of who’s playing in Monday Night Football tonight don’t do justice to the overall importance of tonight’s MNF game. The 7-6 Baltimore Ravens travel to Detroit to take on the 7-6 Lions, a battle that ESPN analysts say is decidedly in the Lions’ favor but could technically go either way. The Lions have one of the best offenses in the NFL behind quarterback Matthew Stafford, but the Ravens will combat that with a top-10 defense. Baltimore is light years away from last season’s Super Bowl victory, to the point that tonight’s MNF showdown amounts to the start of the NFL playoffs for both teams. The loser of tonight’s MNF game will be all but out of the postseason hunt. Two desperate teams, two identical record, one must-watch game. If you can’t watch MNF live on ESPN, you can watch Monday Night Football online using one of several different tools.
The biggest factor to watch for tonight is the quarterback posotion. Ravens QB Joe Flacco has repeatedly failed to justify his big contract, having thrown for 3,238 yards and 18 touchdowns this year. Those figures aren’t anywhere near league-leading, and they’re a far cry from the other quarterback in tonight’s MNF matchup. Lions QB Matt Stafford hasn’t been efficient, but he’s performed admirably with 306 completions, 3,976 yards and 27 touchdowns. With a big time receiver in Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, Stafford’s been able to keep the Lions afloat. Or is it aloft?
The Lions have the third-ranked passing game and the third-ranked total offense in the NFL, giving fans an intriguing reason to watch Monday Night Football online. Their rushing game is ranked 18th, so it’s clearly the Stafford-Megatron connection that’s provided the meat of their offense. Through 13 weeks, Megatron has caught 75 passes for 1,351 yards, while the rest of the Lions receiving corps has pulled in 2,625 yards. The closest other receiver to Johnson? Kris Durham, with 471 yards.
Baltimore’s secondary will have their hands full against Detroit, but they floundered their way into the playoffs last year so shouldn’t be counted out. The Ravens need to win at Ford Field tonight just to keep up with Miami, which pulled-off the upset of the week yesterday against the New England Patriots. Likewise, Detroit needs a MNF win to keep their hopes alive after Chicago’s victory over the Browns yesterday with Jay Cutler at the helm.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco will need to be near flawless in tonight’s Monday Night Football game if the Ravens are to have a chance. That may be too much to ask. Flacco has thrown more than 30 passes in nine of the Ravens’ previous 10 games, during that time throwing a career-worst 17 interceptions. But outside of Flacco’s arm, Baltimore really has few tools tonight on the road. Detroit’s rushing defense has been good all season, while the Ravens ground game averages a NFL-worst three yards per carry. If the Lions defensive line (let’s face it, Ndamukong Suh) can get to Flacco fast, the Ravens could be looking at a ton of sacks, incomplete passes or interceptions. None of those is good for Baltimore’s playoff hopes.
You can watch MNF online on ESPN if you’re a subscriber to the cable sports network via your satellite or cable provider. If so, simply watch Monday Night Football online free on ESPN3, or via the ESPN mobile app or ESPN app on Xbox 360. You can also watch MNF online free via DirecTV’s website if you have the NFL Sunday Ticket with MAX package. The package requires a subscription, but anyone who has one can watch the live streaming version free of any game. You may also be able to watch MNF online with the $5-per-month Verizon NFL mobile app.