Stafford vs. Goliath: Lions Face an Uphill Battle Against the Patriots

Stafford vs. Goliath: Lions Face an Uphill Battle Against the Patriots article feature image
  • Matthew Stafford has struggled mightily in his career against Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, going 7-23 straight up and 7-22-1 against the spread.
  • Stafford is up against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, losers last week. In his career, Brady is 24-4 SU and ATS when he plays on the road after a SU loss.

A tale as old as time: the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Matthew Stafford, has an opportunity in Week 3 against New England to not only get the Detroit Lions their first win of 2018, but to get an elephant-sized stigma removed from his reputation.

The stat hanging over Stafford’s head — and career — is the infamous: 6-52 straight up (SU) record against teams that finished the season above .500 (… and we all assume Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will find a way to finish above .500).

When the lights are brightest and the stage is set to win the big game against the best of the best, Stafford and the Lions have continually failed to meet expectations:

Under the Lights

  • Stafford in Primetime (7 p.m. ET or later) vs. .500-or-better teams: 2-13 SU (13.3%) and 3-12 against the spread (20%)

In the Lions’ Week 9 road game against the Packers (without Aaron Rodgers) last season, Stafford broke his 13-game SU losing streak in this spot.

Since Stafford was drafted in 2008, he is the third-least profitable quarterback ATS (7-13), and the least-profitable quarterback SU (5-15) in his 20 primetime starts.

Best of the Best

  • Stafford vs. .500-or-Better Teams: 23-48 SU (32.4%) and 27-42-2 ATS (39.1%)

In his career, Stafford has won fewer than one-third of his starts SU against teams that are .500 or better at the time of the game.

Since 2009, 29 different quarterbacks have started at least 30 games vs. teams .500 or better. Only three have won fewer than one-third of their starts SU: Stafford, Blake Bortles, and Ryan Fitzpatrick … and only Fitzpatrick (-$2,304) has lost bettors more money than has Stafford (-$2,154).

How much of an outlier are both Fitzpatrick’s and Stafford’s struggles against good teams? The other 27 quarterbacks with the minimum 30 starts have profited bettors $3,529 who wagered $100 on each of their starts.

Rings Too Bright

  • Stafford vs. Super Bowl Winning quarterbacks: 7-23 SU (23.3%) and 7-22-1 ATS (24.1%)

On Sunday Night Football, Stafford and the Lions will face the covering machine of Brady, Belichick and the New England Patriots. Not only do the Lions have to face the Pats, but they have to face Brady & Co. coming off a loss.

Stafford has only faced Brady once in his career, a 34-9 beatdown, and Stafford had the worst passing game of his career in terms of completion percentage (39.1%). When it comes to facing the best of the best — quarterbacks after they won a Super Bowl ring — Stafford hasn’t been able to consistently win or cover.

In Stafford’s career, he has faced nine Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks and has managed an SU win against three — Rodgers, Drew Brees and Eli Manning. Stafford began his career 0-11 SU and 0-10-1 ATS against quarterbacks with rings and is since 7-12 SU and ATS, including losing his last four home starts in this spot to Ben Roethlisberger, Rodgers and Peyton Manning.

Matt vs. Goliath

Can you think of a better way to eliminate past demons than to face the G.O.A.T himself? Here is just a glimpse into what Stafford’s up against in Brady and what Lions head coach Matt Patricia is up against facing his former tutor in Belichick:

  • In Brady’s career, he is 24-4 SU and ATS on the road following a loss (SU).
  • Brady is 9-2 SU and ATS in primetime off of a SU loss. He’s won five straight in this spot over the last five seasons, covering the spread by 10.8 points per game.
  • Brady is 18-3 SU and 17-4 ATS after a double-digit loss in his career, including 11-1 SU and ATS on the road.
  • After defeating the Texans and Bill O’Brien in Week 1, Belichick is 14-8 SU with both the Patriots and the Browns against his former assistants.

Not All on Stafford

It is simply too easy to blame all the woes and losses on Stafford. Since Stafford was drafted in 2008, Detroit has only played six total games in which a Lions player rushed for 100 yards.

Defensively, they are allowing 23.6 PPG since 2011, 22nd in the NFL. And Stafford is currently on his third different head coach and offensive coordinator.

Stafford hasn’t missed a start since 2010 and Sunday night will mark his 115th consecutive start at quarterback for the Lions — trailing only Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan among active quarterback streaks. If Stafford can survive all 16 games in 2018, he’ll move into sixth place all-time for the longest streak by a quarterback.