Matthew Stafford, Lions quar­ter­back

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

When: Stafford has en­gi­neered a league­high eight come­back vic­to­ries and eight gamewin­ning drives this sea­son. He has 3,720 yards pass­ing (seventh-most through Week 15), a .663 com­ple­tion per­cent­age, 22 touch­down passes and only eight in­ter­cep­tions. He was snubbed in Pro Bowl vot­ing, but he has the Lions on track for some­thing bet­ter: a play­off berth.

What’s up: The Lions’ star quar­ter­back dis­lo­cated his right mid­dle fin­ger in a win at Chicago and is now sport­ing a spe­cial glove on his throw­ing hand. He went 24-of-39 for 273 yards, zero touch­downs and an in­ter­cep­tion in a loss to the Giants last week­end; he and Lions coach Jim Cald­well in­sist his fin­ger in­jury won’t be an is­sue.

Back­ground: The Lions (9-5) have been in the play­offs only twice in the past 16 sea­sons, and they haven’t made it past the wild-card round since 1991. With Stafford lead­ing the way, the Lions have won eight of their past 10 games and sit atop the NFC North, but they face a gru­el­ing fi­nal stretch at Dal­las on Mon­day night and then at home against Green Bay, a game that could de­cide the divi­sion cham­pion.

Jhab­vala’s take: Stafford’s num­bers are Pro Bowl-wor­thy and, frankly, he should have been se­lected. De­spite the dif­fi­cult start to the Lions’ sea­son, Stafford has been the key to their turn­around, play­ing some of the best foot­ball of his ca­reer and de­servedly join­ing the MVP con­ver­sa­tion. He is one of only four quar­ter­backs to have played in every reg­u­lar-sea­son game since 2011. But his big­gest tests await him, at Dal­las and against Green Bay.

Matthew Stafford and the Lions close with two big games — at Dal­las on Mon­day night and then at home against Green Bay, a game that could de­cide the NFC North cham­pion. Al Bello, Getty Images

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