National Football League: Can Matthew Stafford Really Win the MVP Award?

Written by: Alex McKinnon– Staff Writing Intern (@1ReturnOfTheMac)

Matthew Stafford was drafted first overall in 2009 by the Detroit Lions out of the University of Georgia. Since then, despite the lack of overall success by the Lions, he has dominated from an individual stand-point. Sunday’s matchup against the Redskins was Stafford’s 100th career game. In the history of the NFL, no quarterback has thrown as many yards as Stafford through their first 100 games. Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner and Aaron Rodgers round out the top five, but Matt Stafford tops the list. He is also 4th all-time in touchdowns thrown on that same list as well as first in completion. Unfortunately for the Lions, Stafford is 72nd (out of 100) in winning percentage through their first 100 games.

Despite the ‘elite’ level of production by Stafford, the Lions have only had a winning record in two of Stafford’s seven seasons and have not gotten past the wild card round. This is especially disappointing considering the talent Stafford has been surrounded with over the years include Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush, Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Brandon Pettigrew, Cliff Avril and so on. The Lions have been a laughing stock for the most part during Stafford’s career mostly due to the fact that Detroit went 0-16 the year before Stafford arrived.

Matt Stafford has had over 4200 yards in five consecutive season highlighted by 5038 yards in 2011 and is on pace for another 4200+ yard performance this year. He has had trouble with interceptions (102 in his first 100 games) and sacks (223) but he has also thrown 178 touchdowns to start his career. At 28 years old, he has cemented his place with the Lions as the centerpiece and should continue to be in his prime for at least another 5-6 seasons. If the Lions can ever establish a strong secondary and improve the cast on offense, Stafford certainly has the tools to have success in the NFC.

The Lions are currently 3-4 and have a weak possibility of securing a playoff spot especially with the Vikings and Packers in the same division, but that shouldn’t alter Stafford’s shot at the MVP race. Through his first 7 games, Stafford has a career high in completion percentage at 68.0 and has a stat line of 1,914 yards, 15 touchdowns, 4 interceptions and a career high 105.7 passer rating. He is also on pace to have a career high in rushing yards, sitting at 126 yards (159 in 2015). Despite the loss of a sure fire Hall of Famer, Calvin Johnson, Marvin Jones III and Golden Tate give Stafford a serviceable wide receiver tandem.

Stafford is 8th in passing yards, trailing the leader Matt Ryan by 434 yards. He is 4th in touchdowns, third in passer rating, 4th in completion percentage but faces a favorable remaining schedule that includes the Jaguars, Saints, Bears, Giants, Cowboys and Packers. More importantly, Stafford is in the midst of a three game winning streak with passer ratings of 135, 139.8 and 103.5 as well as a 8 TD/0 INT output over the past three games. If Stafford can continue this torrid pace, he will compete with Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Julio Jones and even Tom Brady for the prestigious award. His pass-happy attitude makes him a fun watch for the rest of the season in the MVP race and the emergence of Golden Tate over the past few weeks should make it significantly easier for Stafford going forward. So to answer the titular questions, yes I believe Stafford is a legitimate MVP candidate and is certainly a favorable fantasy play for the remainder of the season.




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