This is a franchise that can’t afford to drop to 1-3, especially not against its NFC North rivals, the Minnesota Vikings.
Detroit had Super Bowl expectations coming into the season after finally breaking through last year and making the playoffs for the first time since 1999. Although the New Orleans Saints sent them packing early, the Lions gained invaluable experience and were supposed to start this year with a bang.
Obviously, that hasn’t happened, and Stafford's poor performance has been a large reason for the team’s drop-off.
Through three games, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft has completed a respectable 84-of-122 passes for 863 yards. But he has just three touchdowns compared to four interceptions.
He suffered from a hip injury at the end of a loss against the Tennessee Titans, and backup Shaun Hill arguably performed better in limited action, tossing two touchdowns compared to Stafford’s one.
If Stafford is back starting under center on Sunday afternoon, he’s going to need to be at the top of his game, connecting on pinpoint laser passers to Calvin Johnson and the rest of his wide receivers.
Will that happen?
Let’s make some predictions.
Projected Stat Line: 34-of-42 passing, 340 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception
We are calling this Week 4 matchup against the Vikes a breakout game for Stafford and the Lions.
The Vikings simply don’t possess as great of a secondary as the stats would suggest. While they rank in the top 10 in yards against in the air, with just 209.0 per game, they have allowed five touchdowns to just one interception.
Minnesota has also only faced Blaine Gabbert, Alex Smith and Andrew Luck—not exactly the three most elite QBs in the NFL.
Stafford is a much more advanced passer than any of those players, which means he should be able to shred the Purple People Eaters for major yardage and scores.
Expect a blowout game in which the Lions destroy their divisional rival, with Stafford earning MVP honors in the contest.