Why Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions Will Win 2012 NFL MVP
2011 may have been the "Year of the Quarterback" around the NFL, but it was just the start of something special from Stafford in Detroit. He threw for 5,038 passing yards and led the Lions to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
Stafford did so when opposing defenses knew that the Lions were a one-dimensional offense and they still couldn't stop him.
Truth be told, he's only 24 years old, which is the scariest fact of all. It's true that Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Eli Manning are regarded as the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but only Rodgers is still in his 20s.
Stafford being so good at such a young age tells one that his 2011 statistics are just a jumping-off point for the rest of his career. Sure, he has the best wide receiver in the game in Calvin Johnson, but Stafford is like the aforementioned quarterbacks in the sense that he distributes the ball to any teammate worthy of his trust.
Subtract Johnson's 1,681 receiving yards from Stafford's 5,038 passing yards last season and the 3,357 yards would still have been 17th best in the NFL. Take into account that Stafford played with a broken index finger for a number of weeks and fell victim to the most drops in the league, 46, and his numbers could have been much better in 2011.
Who will be the 2012 NFL MVP?
Now, 2012 is the season that the debate over who is the best quarterback in the NFL will begin to sway in his favor. The Lions lack a true running game, meaning that Stafford takes the majority of the snaps out of the shotgun formation. This allows him time to get the ball out of his hand quickly and confuse opposing defenses.
The Lions also have much more than just Johnson in their receiving corps.
Nate Burleson is a professional possession receiver who nabbed 73 catches last season. Titus Young is a second-year receiver who caught six touchdowns as a rookie and has matured in the offseason, leaving good reason to believe that he is a true No. 2 receiver behind Johnson.
The tight end position is now the new "it" position in the NFL, and the Lions Brandon Pettigrew is the most underrated tight end in all of football. He quietly tallied 83 catches in 2011 and his physical presence is hard to miss in the middle of the field. The Lions also have rookie wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who will serve as a wild card in this offense and will become a factor by season's end.
Stafford doesn't have one weapon—he has an arsenal.
Given the fact that the Lions will improve from the 5.0 yards per carry they allowed on defense and the overabundance of personal foul penalties that plagued them in 2011, Stafford will have the ball in his hands more often, leading to a swollen stat line on a weekly basis.
Thanks to the leadership from and high standards set by Stafford, the Lions will shake the label of being "dirty" in 2012 and return to the playoffs.
Being so hyped last season has left the Lions as a Super Bowl sleeper this season, which is where they want to be.
Yes, the Lions play in the NFC North, which is arguably the best division in all of football, but in order to be the best you have to beat the best, and Stafford will do so this season.
A win at Lambeau Field against the reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay Packers in Week 14 will seal the deal for Stafford becoming MVP in 2012. The Lions haven't defeated the Packers at Lambeau since 1991, when Stafford was just three years old.
In the end, Stafford will become the first quarterback in NFL history to put together back-to-back 5,000-yard seasons. Achieving this once unbelievable feat will bring Stafford his first of multiple NFL MVP awards.
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