The Detroit Lions have had a successful 2023 season already, and the playoffs will provide an opportunity to achieve more.
For the first time in 30 years the Lions won their division and will host a playoff game, but Matthew Stafford threatens to ruin the party. Stafford was traded in 2021 after spending 12 seasons in Detroit, and emotions ran high at the time of the move.
With Stafford coming back for the first time, some will be tempted to shower him with love, attempting to show the class that Detroit is known for when beloved athletes return to town.
Sunday night isn't a regular season contest, though, which means this should be about business first for Lions fans. They have a responsibility to make it miserable on Stafford the minute he walks into Ford Field, and give him the most hostile environment he's ever experienced.
Stafford knows he's the bad guy now, and that motivation will drive him. Make no mistake, he'd like nothing more than to win the biggest game in the history of Ford Field. That's especially true after he asked to be traded away.
Regardless of Stafford's history in Detroit, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most Lions fans to back a winner. It's time for them to show loyalty to their quality team over an elite former player.
It's time for Detroit Lions fans to rally behind Jared Goff
On the other sideline, Goff has just as much to prove to the Rams, and will be motivated to make his own statement. That's true no matter how many times he denies interest in that narrative.
Goff has shown a deep commitment to Detroit and wants to win for the city just as much as Stafford did. In the short time he's been in town, Goff has grown closer to the fans and their values. That gives him a burning desire to make their dreams come true rather than achieve revenge on Los Angeles.
"Obviously, there's a personal connection there and not just for me, but for a lot of our players and some of theirs as well. I so badly want to win a game for this city and win a playoff game for the city that hasn't had one in so long. We got a home playoff game for the first time in so long and that's so much more important than anything personally for me. I want to be a part of this win and do my job to the best of my ability."
Goff brought the postseason back to town while helping the franchise claim an elusive division title. No disrespect to Stafford's accomplishments as a Lion, but he did not accomplish either of those things.
Stafford means a lot to Lions' fans, but Goff should mean even more right now. Stafford represents the past, while Goff represents the present and future. It's time for fans to treat their former quarterback as such.