Matthew Stafford’s candidacy as 2016 MVP weakened with Sunday’s 13-point offensive showing in a loss to Houston, but it still exists. Halfway through the year, only one other QB (Matt Ryan) has completed over 65% of his passes with more than 15 touchdowns and fewer than five interceptions. And Ryan has done so with Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 ranked wideout, Julio Jones. Meanwhile, with Calvin Johnson now Dancing With The Stars, Stafford’s best option has been Marvin Jones, who PFF ranks at No. 28. Stafford has also managed to keep his team afloat despite a defense that ranks last in the league in Football Outsiders’ all-encompassing DVOA metric.
The 28-year-old signal-caller has played with more patience and smarts than he has in the past, but he’s improved his ability to crank up the aggression when the situation requires so. All four Lions victories have come after fourth quarter comebacks led by Stafford—a tally no other QB can match. If the 28-year-old can keep up the heroics long enough to maneuver Detroit through a crowded NFC North to a Wild Card berth (potentially by outdueling Aaron Rodgers in Week 17), his MVP bona fides will be impossible to ignore. – Jacob Feldman