Now that we’re well beyond the nonsensical “trade Matthew Stafford” talk that somehow persisted through April, the Detroit Lions quarterback is getting some serious hype for the 2020 NFL.
Benjamin Solak of The Draft Network put together a list of his favorite longshots—defined as Vegas odds of 30-to-1 or longer—to win Most Valuable Player in 2020, and Stafford (50-to-1) was his favorite pick of the litter.
“The biggest bet I’d place on any of these longshots would go on Matthew Stafford, who was wicked good for the Lions in 2020[sic, he means 2019],” wrote Solak. “Among starting quarterbacks last year, Stafford was fifth in the league in adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A), which is one of the best metrics we have for individual quarterback efficiency.”
Solak is right. Stafford was lighting the league on fire before his unfortunate back injury. In addition to being among the league leaders in passer rating (fifth), yards per attempt (fourth) and passing touchdowns (second), Stafford was on pace to set career marks in passer rating, touchdown percentage and interception percentage.
However, to win the MVP Award, you have to accomplish something that has evaded Stafford for his entire career: team success. The Lions need to make some noise in the regular season—and likely win their first division title since 1993—for Stafford to even have a chance.
But Solak sees some potential there, too.
“The Lions are far from destined for dominance in a thick NFC North this season, but it is worth noting, they had some ugly luck last year in the win-loss column and should have won both the Kansas City and Green Bay games to finish 5-2-1 under Stafford,” Solak wrote. “It remains to be seen if Matt Patricia can keep the defense afloat, but the Lions are squarely in contention for the division title, largely because of Stafford’s success as a passer under Bevell.”
Solak isn’t alone in his thoughts about Stafford. Back in February, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler picked Stafford to win the award straight up.
“If he leads Detroit to contention, which isn’t so far-fetched considering the talent around him, he’ll be in the MVP mix because he puts up numbers and the NFC North is as open as Kenny Golladay,” Fowler wrote.
The offseason is where the Lions and their players have experienced the majority of their successes. So until Detroit starts making their accomplishments on the field, this is going to read as nothing but a bunch of hot air. Still, Stafford has some believers nationally, and that isn’t exactly the norm around these parts.