Matthew Stafford: Is the Detroit Lions QB a Viable MVP Candidate?

Ryan GuillemetteCorrespondent ISeptember 27, 2011

Matthew Stafford: Is the Detroit Lions QB a Viable MVP Candidate?

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    The Lions look really good going into Week 4. They are one of the few teams currently 3-0 and are led by quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is having what looks to be like a career-high performance this season.

    Stafford is currently one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. If Stafford continues to play like he is he may find himself leading the Lions deep into the playoffs and possibly a Super Bowl which would be a complete 180 from the former Lions who struggled to win games.   

    Here is a look at why Matthew Stafford is a viable candidate for the MVP and what he needs to do to get closer to his goal.  

Where Does Stafford Rank with Other Quarterbacks

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    Matthew Stafford is currently one of the hottest quarterbacks in the NFL right now. He is currently ranked with the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Tony Romo.  All of these great quarterbacks, with the exception of Romo and Stafford, have a championship under their belts. This could change if Stafford continues to play like he is.

    Here is how Stafford ranks with some these elite quarterbacks:

    Brady- 69.9 percent, 1327 yards, 11 TD, 5 INT, QBR 113.8

    Brees- 68.5 percent, 1059 yards, 9 TD, 2 INT, QBR 109.7

    Rodgers- 71.8 percent, 917 yards, 8 TD, 1 INT, QBR 120.9

    Romo- 62.3 percent, 687 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT, QBR 108.8

    Stafford- 66.9 percent, 977 yards, 9 TD, 2 INT, QBR 110.7

    Stafford is arguably the second or third best quarterback in this group. Brady struggled against the Bills, which may give him the leg-up in this battle. If Stafford can edge out Rodgers at least once when these two meet up he could lead the Lions to a division championship and possibly a Super Bowl.  

Stafford's Statistics

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    Stafford has become a great leader for a team who has struggled in the past.  Stafford and the Lions are currently 3-0 and had a huge Week 3 overtime win against the Minnesota Vikings.  In that game, the Lions did not score in the first half and were down 20-0 going into halftime.  In the second half the Lions were able to score 23-points to push the game into overtime. They were then able to get into field goal range and win the game.  

    Stafford played a huge role in this game.  He has proven that he is one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL as of right now.  Stafford has thrown 79 of 118 in the first three games and has 977 yards, averaging 8.28 yards per pass, while throwing for nine touchdowns. He only has two interceptions and a fumble. His passer rating is 110.7. Stafford is clearly a dangerous quarterback who is capable of winning the MVP this year from the looks of these numbers.

    Stafford has almost thrown for 300 yards in each game; being only six shy of 300 in the blowout against Kansas City. Stafford is currently second in the NFL for touchdowns, eighth in completion percent, fifth in in passing yards and third in quarterback rating; proving that he is moving up as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.  

Solid Group of Receivers

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    Much of Stafford's success has come because of the solid receivers play on the Lions. Stafford was able to connect with Johnson and Pettigrew, tore apart the Vikings secondary in the second half of the game.  

    Wide receiver Calvin Johnson was able to catch 16 passes this season for 225 yards, averaging 14.1 yards per catch and scoring six touchdowns so far this season. Across from Johnson is Nate Burleson who has caught 14 passes this season for 165 yards, averaging 11.8 yards per catch.  

    The Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew has also played an intricate role in the Lions offense. Pettigrew recorded 16 catches for 176 yards, averaging 11.0 yards per catch. With quality receivers like these, it gives Stafford a lot of options to succeed in games this season.    

Stafford Has Great Pass Protection

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    Going into the game against the Vikings Stafford was the only quarterback who had not been sacked in the entire NFL this season. This shows great pass-protection, which allows Stafford to have the time to make decisions and accurately deliver the ball.  

    Unfortunately, Stafford could not stay protected forever. He was sacked five times against the Vikings, even though he threw for 378 yards that game. This may be something the Lions want to address when they are facing good defenses who have shown that they are great pass-rushers like the Vikings are.

    The Lions need to address this issue moving deeper in the season if they want to compete with the elite teams.

Injury Prone

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    Stafford has shown that he is a great quarterback this season. The biggest concern that Stafford and the Lions' face is staying healthy.  

    Stafford has a track record of injuries. He was placed on injured reserve on December 24 in his rookie season, playing in 10 games. In 2010, Stafford injured his right shoulder against the Bears in the Lions season opener on September 12. Stafford would return on October 31 and would re-injure his right shoulder against the New York Jets on November 7.  He then underwent surgery repairing his AC Joint and had a clavicle shaving on his right shoulder. Stafford only played in three games in the 2010 season.  

    So far Stafford has remained healthy, which is a great sign.  If he can stay healthy and on the field, he is looking to have a career-high season and maybe even lead the Lions deep into the playoffs.