Sunday’s Super Wild Card weekend is filled with plenty of storylines, including players playing against their former team.
That is evident on both sides when the No. 6 Los Angeles Rams travel to No. 3 Detroit on Sunday at 5:15 p.m. PT on NBC.
This weekend’s wild-card game is the second matchup between the two teams since that trade. Stafford got the best of Goff at SoFi Stadium as the Rams defeated the Lions, 28-19, in 2021, seven months after the two playcallers switched sides.
For Stafford, it is going to be his first time playing at Ford Field since being dealt to Los Angeles and it will determine who moves on to the Divisional Round and who loses and returns home to get ready for next season.
“The (playoff) opportunity happens to be in Detroit, which is fun for me on a personal level,” Stafford said after Sunday’s 21-20 win in San Francisco. “To be honest, a football game is a football game once the ball is snapped. It’ll be a lot of stuff beforehand I’m sure I’ll have to answer questions about, and they will too.”
Stafford, who was the Lions’ first overall pick in 2009, played a dozen years in Detroit.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Detroit Lions regular season breakdown
Now this season, the two quarterbacks have been a part of some high-prolific offenses.
- Stafford: 15 games, 62.6 pass completion percentage (326-for-521), 24 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 7.6 yards per attempt, 264.3 yards per game
- Goff: 17 games, 67.3 pass completion percentage (407-for-605), 30 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 7.6 yards per attempt, 269.1 yards per game
Both quarterbacks threw for at least 3,900 yards with Goff throwing for 4,575 yards and finishing second in the NFL in passing yards, finishing only behind Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa.
Jared Goff’s Season Defined
Goff, who spent his first four NFL seasons in Los Angeles, helped Detroit win four of their final six games, including two against NFC North foe Minnesota within the final three weeks. The Lions also suffered a tough, one-point loss in Dallas on a controversial flag because Detroit did not correctly report to the referee on a two-point conversion attempt.
During this final stretch, Goff recorded one of his best games of the season when he threw five touchdown passes in a 42-17 win over Denver.
Matthew Stafford’s Season Defined
Stafford helped the Rams finish the season winning four straight and seven of their final eight games to reach the postseason for the first time since their Super Bowl championship run two seasons ago.
That lone loss – since the Week 10 bye – came in an overtime defeat on the road against the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 10. However, the Rams were back on their feet and were able to take care of business against Washington to restart the winning streak.
The final winning streak also includes victories over New Orleans, and the New York Giants before ending the season by splitting the season series against San Francisco in the Bay Area.
At the time, the 30-22 win over the Saints was crucial because both teams were tied in the wild-card picture as the victor would get an advantage for the remainder of the season. In that game, Stafford completed 24-of-34 passes for 328 yards and two touchdowns in the eight-point win.
Looking back now, that game proved to be pivotal as head coach Sean McVay and the Rams are playing in the postseason while the Saints are getting ready for next season.
McVay said having this winning stretch helps this team play better both physically and mentally at the right time as a result of their stability.
“What I loved is the way these guys continue to come to work and the consistency at which they did was on display really when we were 3-6 and then when we were able to finish up 7-1,” McVay said Monday. “We’ve got some good momentum, but now we’re all 0-0.
“It’s almost like we’ve continuously talked about it, but the consistency that this group, the energy, the vibe that they’ve brought, it’s been really fun and it’s a great mix of guys that have been in a lot of big-time games and then a heck of a lot of young players that have really watched these guys do their thing and then been able to accelerate their learning and maturation process a lot faster than anybody anticipated.”