Matt Stafford Is The Best Quarterback In The NFL Right Now
Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys were the first team to clinch a playoff spot with their 11th win in a row on Sunday. Tom Brady and the 10-2 Patriots again look like worthwhile contenders for the Super Bowl, as do Derek Carr and his 10-2 Raiders who are currently the 1st-seeded team in the AFC. And sure, Matt Ryan and the Falcons have faltered but he's had a career season in his quest to return to the playoffs.
Still, none of those quarterbacks have been more impressive or more important to their teams over the last 20 regular season games than Matt Stafford has been for the Detroit Lions.
Before you lose your cool, let me offer a disclaimer here by saying that I understand that Stafford is not the best career quarterback playing in the NFL. As long as Brady (the GOAT), Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning are still playing, they will always have the leg up in terms of their historic achievements.
But it's Stafford who is playing the best football right now.
Since Week 10 of the 2015 season, the Lions have a 14-6 record. After working out the kinks at the start of this season, Stafford has led his team on a four-game winning streak that has them at 8-4 and solidly in first place in the NFC North.
The Lions have now won 7 of their last 8 games, including two against the division rival Minnesota Vikings, improbably making them one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now; and Stafford deserves as much credit as anyone.
Since that Week 10 game last season in which the Lions beat the Packers at Lambeau for the first time in 24 years, Stafford has been statistically the best quarterback in the NFL. To give you an idea of just how good he's been, let's break down his stats since that game on Nov. 15th, 2015.
QB Record: 14-6
Yards per Game: 270
Comp. Pct: 68.3%
Passer Rating: 104.4
That's about as good as just about any quarterback has played over a 20 game stretch in the NFL. It's the kind of efficiency that we're used to seeing from the elite, Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks that I mentioned previously. Now we're seeing it from Stafford, who is doing it this season without Calvin Johnson; with whom he'd played his entire career with until Johnson's premature retirement last off-season.
The Lions are tied with the Patriots and the Bills for the fewest giveaways this season at just 8, thanks largely to Stafford who has been exceptional at taking care of the ball. In addition to just five interceptions, he's fumbled only twice; a dramatic improvement from 2013 and 2014 when he fumbled a combined 22 times across the two seasons.
Stafford's efforts to be the best player on his team at any given time is a huge reason why one of the NFL's most maligned franchises is staring down the barrel at not just a playoff berth but a serious chance at winning in the playoffs. The NFC is super weak this year, and it's the perfect opportunity for someone as talented as Stafford to step into the limelight and take ownership of a more hopeful era for Lions football.
Stats compiled using tools at ProFootballReference.com
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