Week 16 in the NFL is an important day for most (real and fake) teams. It’s Super Bowl week in most (well-run) fantasy leagues. And it’s do or die time for actual, real-life teams. Division championships, seedings, and playoff berths are all on the line. A few teams control their own destiny, and what they do in Week 16 can tell you a lot about them.
I’m a Lions fan. It’s a curse my Dad bestowed upon me at birth. It really isn’t my fault.
That said, I have watched Matt Stafford closely since he was drafted in 2009. He was the prize QB with the Golden Arm that was supposed to rescue us from the bottom of an 0-16 grave.
Week 16 showed me he’s not the franchise player I thought the Lions drafted…and extended in July of this year.
As many of you know, I’m a supporter of Tony Romo. He’s a guy whose talent has been hidden by the ineptitude of his coach and GM/Owner in my opinion. Stafford had that same excuse for years. A team doesn’t go 0-16 because it’s stocked with talent after all.
Anyway, this year it was all in front of Stafford. A 6-3 record. A devastating injury to Aaron Rodgers. A season sweep of the Chicago Bears (to his credit). AND games against smedium competition (Steelers, Buccaneers, Packers, and Giants since that 6-3 record). Stafford managed a 1-5 record since. Throwing out the game against the Eagles (because it was in a blizzard), Stafford has still been inaccurate and turnover prone. And now he’s cost his team a postseason berth.
As bad as it has been for Lions fans, I was intrigued by the rise of Cam Newton as Stafford wet his pants in Detroit.
For some reason…
Cam had the weight of the world of his shoulders since he was drafted in 2011. Despite also being a number one pick (i.e. drafted to a terrible team), Cam had an unprecedented rookie year, seemingly shaking off the criticism he received ahead of the draft…for some reason…
Cam battled a monsoon and a tough New Orleans defense to lead his Carolina Panthers to a late win and playoff berth. His achievement was highlighted by a priceless set of tweets by noted gasbag reporter Peter King. Here they are, read from bottom to top:
This Tale of Two Quarterbacks was fun to watch unfold on Twitter.
Let’s see, two quarterbacks drafted first overall to bad teams. Both had ups (Cam’s rookie year, Matt’s 5,000 yard season) and downs in their young careers. And both had games in Week 16 that had perception-altering stakes. So why does Cam’s success get marginalized with a patronizing pat on the head while Stafford’s flop goes largely unmentioned.
I think we know the answer.
But tell me anyway, I’m curious how you’ve perceived Stafford’s career arc thus far. What about Newton? Feel free to write your comment while sitting in that chair outside the dressing room in the mall. I know you’re doing your last minute shopping.