Matthew Stafford’s eight games in 2019 should give fans hope

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Did the injury suffered by Matthew Stafford last season only delay the Detroit Lions’ resurgence?

The NFL offseason is the time every football fan can dream of better days ahead for their beloved franchise. And long-suffering fans of the Detroit Lions are no different.

Although it may be difficult to conjure up excitement for a team that posted a disappointing 3-12-1 season-ending record in 2019, there are reasons for hope. All fans have to do is consider the Lions’ first eight games of last season which featured quarterback Matthew Stafford under center.

Following head coach Matt Patricia’s rookie season in Detroit where the Lions recorded a 6-10 record in 2018, the Lions hoped for better results in year two. And while the record got worse, the team showed early signs of progress.

In fact, the Lions’ first eight games from last season show a very competitive team with Stafford under center. When he played, Detroit averaged 25.5 points per game in 2019. Without Stafford in the lineup, that average dropped to a lowly 17.1 ppg.

Remember, Detroit went undefeated through their first three games last year. In Week One, they tied the Arizona Cardinals despite having an 11-point lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Lions would go on to post back-to-back three-point victories, one over the Los Angeles Charger at Ford Field in Week Two. And the other, on the road versus the Philadelphia Eagles in Week Three.

Detroit had a 30-27 lead over the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs with just under three minutes left in the fourth quarter in their Week Four matchup. The Lions would end up losing that game on a go-ahead touchdown scored with just :23 seconds left on the clock.

The Detroit Lions remained competitive after their bye week

Following their Week Five bye, the Lions would lose by a single point to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field despite holding a 19-13 lead heading into the final frame. They’d lose again the following week to another NFC North rival, the Minnesota Vikings, 42-30 after heading into halftime tied at 21.

In Week Eight, the Lions would manhandle the New York Giants in Detroit, posting a 31-19 lead early in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the following game would end up being the last for Stafford as he succumbed to a back injury.

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Detroit headed to California in Week Nine to face off against the Oakland Raiders. The game was tied 17-17 going into the fourth quarter. The Lions tied it again 24-all with just over five minutes left in the contest, but the defense allowed yet another last-minute score that cemented the defeat.

The Detroit Lions would not win a single game without Matthew Stafford in the lineup in 2019. But when he was under center, this group proved they could go toe-to-toe with the NFL’s best.

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Those first eight games of 2019 were a sign of progress under head coach Matt Patricia. And who knows what would have happened if Stafford wasn’t sidelined halfway through the season. But that early eight-game run should be enough to give fans hope for a much better result in 2020.