Analyzing the Effect of the Matthew Stafford Trade on the Lions and Rams

By Anthony Haage in NFL
| July 1, 2021 6:12 am PST

The Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions have both decided to give up on their “thought to be” franchise quarterbacks and swap with the other team.

Looking at the trade, Matthew Stafford was valued more, which is accurate. Stafford is a better quarterback than Goff, that is for sure.

It is yet to be determined how good those future draft picks will be as they take place in 2022 (1st round), 2023 (1st), and this year’s third-round selection (CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse) has yet to play a snap.

So, the winner of the trade will be decided in the coming years. It could still pay to assess how both of these teams made out, though, especially if you plan to target the Rams or Lions this year at your favorite NFL betting sites.

With that, let’s analyze the Matthew Stafford trade for both the Lions and the Rams going into 2021.

Detroit Wasn’t Winning with Stafford

In January, the Lions shipped away their franchise quarterback after struggling to be a contender the last few years.

Stafford has been the lone bright spot on the Lions after Calvin Johnson retired, and the Lions struggled to find wins. Since Stafford’s debut in 2009, the Lions only have had four winning seasons out of his 12 total.

Throughout the last three seasons, the Lions’ collective record is a measly 14-33. Throughout Stafford’s 165 career games in Detroit, the Lions’ record is 74-90-1, and 0-3 in the playoffs.

With Stafford entering his age 33 season, the Lions decided to throw in the towel and ship him away for Jared Goff and picks.

Los Angeles Had Plateaued with Goff

The Rams have first-world problems in the NFL. The Rams have an incredibly talented roster, but their problem is that they haven’t won a Super Bowl.

Since Goff’s rookie year in 2016, the Rams’ record is 42-27. If you take out his rookie season where the Rams went 0-7 in his starts, that record looks pretty good at 42-20 (.677 winning percentage).

The Rams made the Super Bowl in 2019 but fell short to the Patriots 13-3. Their last Super Bowl appearance before that came in 2002 when they were the St. Louis Rams.

The Rams have one of the most complete rosters in the NFL that they have invested a lot in, but they had gone as far as they were going
to go with Goff.

The Rams haven’t had a first-round pick since Jared Goff in 2016, and they won’t have one until 2024.

Clearly win win-now mode and stuck in neutral, the Rams viewed this deal as an upgrade under center. Moving on from Goff doesn’t guarantee the Rams win a title, but it does give a stagnant offense a nice jolt and optimism.

What Stafford Brings to the Rams

Matthew Stafford has been one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL. Stafford consistently throws for 4,000 yards and 20+ touchdowns.

He is also one of the toughest quarterbacks in the NFL. Stafford has been sacked 385 times over his 165-game career, that comes out to an average of 37+ sacks per full season (16 games).

Stafford has played a full 16 games in 9 out of 12 of his career seasons. Stafford had a terrible rookie season, with 13 TDs and 20 interceptions. He also got injured in 2010 and 2019, which were his only seasons where he didn’t play the whole year.

Stafford has thrown for 45,109 yards (273.4 Yards per game), 282 touchdowns (1.7 touchdowns per game), and 144 interceptions (0.87 interceptions per game). His best career year came in 2011 where he threw for 5,038 yards, 41 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions.

He has been a gunslinger at the quarterback position, and you can see it in his stat lines. Stafford’s interception totals per year look a little high, but his yards and touchdowns are higher than the average quarterback.

This playing style could be looked at as a positive or a negative, but one thing is for sure, Stafford can score points in a hurry. He has 31 total 4th quarter comebacks, as well, along with 38 game-winning drives.

Stafford can run Sean McVay’s system as desired, but he also knows how to win late in games, and the Rams are going to be dangerous with him.

Eyeing Goff’s Impact in Detroit

Goff sat on the bench for the majority of his first year after he was drafted #1 overall by the Rams in 2016. When he eventually started, he didn’t exactly shine. Goff finished with 1,089 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions in his rookie campaign.

Goff was much more impressive after his rookie season. Here’s what he’s done since.

  • 18,171 passing yards
  • 107 passing touchdowns
  • 55 interceptions
  • 42-20 record as a starter

Goff also has six 4th quarter comebacks, and eight game-winning drives. Sean McVay should also get a lot of credit for Goff’s success in the league, as the innovative.

Head Coach took the league by storm with his offensive style. As more defenses started to figure out McVay, the more the Rams relied on Goff, and this hasn’t worked out.

The biggest takeaway there? Goff probably can’t get it done beyond the confines of a brilliant system. If he wasn’t able to elevate the Rams, it’s difficult to imagine things getting better in Detroit.

That said, when everything around him went well, Goff was a more than serviceable starter. If the Lions can keep the pocket clean and succeed around Goff, he could be a fine addition.

Rams Are NFC West Favorites with Stafford

Stafford joins a team with serious star power. Arguably the best defensive player in the league, Aaron Donald, is just a start.

L.A. also has one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Jalen Ramsey. They also have a better offensive line than the Lions did, headlined by Rob Havenstein and Andrew Whitworth.

Along with an upgraded offensive line, Stafford gets a good bunch of new receivers. Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, DeSean Jackson, and Van Jefferson should all look for great seasons with Stafford.

Woods and Kupp specifically stand out as one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL.

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The Rams also have a good tight end in Tyler Higbee, and solid young running back in Cam Akers.

Los Angeles finished 10-6 last season, with a #1 ranked defense and 22nd ranked offense. This roster has Super Bowl potential, but the first step is to win their division. Take a look at their chances based on the latest odds to win the NFC West in 2021, per BetOnline.

Rams+200
49ers+210
Seahawks+250
Cardinals+500

Stafford is under contract for the next two seasons for the Rams, but becomes a free agent in 2023. That should give the Rams time to come together, and gauge if the veteran can help them for the long-term.

Can Goff Help the Lions Win the NFC North?

Goff wasn’t as fortunate as Stafford. He joins a Lions team who probably won’t be competing anytime soon and went 5-11 last season.

The Lions defense ranked dead last season and their offense ranked 20th. But Goff is under contract until the 2025 season. The Lions are in rebuild mode and they also didn’t resign their top receiver in Kenny Golladay.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as tight end T.J Hockenson is talented enough to take over the primary target in the offense. In fact, he’s already among the best tight ends in the NFL in 2021.

Cornerback Jeff Okudah and OT Penei Sewell are going to be a big part of the Lions’ future, along with Goff. The Lions also have the 9th most cap space, so look for them to add more talent in drafts and in free agency in the coming years.

The top NFL sportsbooks have the Lions in dead last in the NFC North this year, with +2000 odds. The Packers are favorited at -143, the Vikings are at +260, and the Bears own +400 odds; all above the Lions.

To get a better idea as to how the Lions will fare, check out this 2021 NFC North betting preview.

It will also be interesting to see Goff play in a system that isn’t designed by Sean McVay. With far less help than he had in L.A., it’s clear why the odds are against Goff and the Lions finding high-level success this year.

What the Future Holds for Detroit and L.A.

Both teams have different futures. The Rams will be more exciting to watch as Stafford takes over the reins. The Lions, meanwhile, might be exciting in a couple years if Goff propels them into a new era.

The Rams have spent a lot of their first-round picks, past and future, and will be interesting to see if that will end up coming back to bite them. As for the Lions, the front office has not been impressive, so this rebuild could definitely go wrong.

Detroit has had incredible talent in their franchise history behind Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Barry Sanders, but they have never even appeared in a Super Bowl. The Rams recent Super Bowl appearance was an offensive embarrassment.

Bill Belichick was the first person to absolutely embarrass the Rams offense that season, and he did it on the biggest stage in the world. The defensive showdown wasn’t super exciting with a total score of 13-3, but given the Rams offense that year, that was a horrible showing.

As more defenses adjusted to McVay, their offense has gotten worse from that season. Stafford might be the sparkplug they need to get back in the Super Bowl, along with their talented defense.

It’s impossible to predict the future, but if you’re betting on the NFL in 2021, it’s fair to suggest the Rams could be a fun team to back, and Detroit is likely one to avoid.

There is plenty to cover as the 2021 NFL season approaches. For more insight, odds, and predictions, check out our NFL betting blog.

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