To an extent, each football game played is dictated by the quarterback’s ability to throw the football against the opposition’s defensive backfield. Success or failure within the win and loss column in the end can be measured by this.
This week, however, the Detroit Lions will face a particularly significant test in this department. Quarterback Matthew Stafford didn’t have a good game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. and going on the road, he will be even more under fire again to help lead the charge to victory.
Add to that the fact that top receiver Calvin Johnson figures to be on the sidelines with an ankle injury, and the pressure heats up on Detroit’s signal caller even more. Stafford could also be without running back Reggie Bush, meaning it will be time for him to help others shine.
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Over his career, the quarterback has had trouble getting that done. The Vikings and their secondary should provide Stafford with an excellent chance to get back on track, even if Johnson isn’t in the game. Minnesota does have a top 15 pass defense statistically in the NFL, but has allowed nine touchdowns through the air, the fourth highest total in the league during this season.
Moreover, the Vikings are allowing 226 yards per-game, meaning there is plenty of opportunity for Stafford to connect with Golden Tate, Eric Ebron and Brandon Pettigrew to make some big play magic happen. Career, Stafford is 3-5 against Minnesota, but has thrown 12 touchdowns to only four interceptions against the Vikings to the tune of 2,203 yards. Those are the most consistent numbers he maintains against an NFC North foe.
This week, Stafford’s tale will be written mostly by his ability to get players like Ebron, Corey Fuller and Jeremy Ross involved. Most defenses know to key on Tate, and he will likely still get his yardage against the Vikings. To win, Stafford will have to pick apart the Vikings with his other weapons, and allow one or more of them to have big games. Minus Johnson, this will be even more important.
To win, Stafford will have to pick apart the Vikings with his other weapons, and allow one or more of them to have big games.
Players like Robert Blanton, Harrison Smith, Captain Munnerlyn and an improving Xavier Rhodes will provide their challenge in the second level. Stafford has to be that much better than them, distribute the ball and be a consistent game manager to lead a win.
Stafford’s recent history suggests that he’s more than capable of putting up the needed numbers to beat Minnesota nearly on his own. Without a cast of his usual characters and an offensive line struggling to get its footing early, that will have to be the case significantly for the Lions to win on the road.