User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto Racing
Horses
More
Betting Tools

 
Lions QB Matthew Stafford struggling this season

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) - Matthew Stafford was really looking forward to this season last summer.

Advertisement
The Detroit Lions quarterback expected to pick apart defenses by finding one-on-one matchups and throwing to Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Titus Young and Ryan Broyles.

If none of those receivers was open, he couldn't wait to connect with Brandon Pettigrew or Tony Scheffler.

And if the tight ends were covered, tossing a short pass to speedy running back Jahvid Best seemed as if it would be good option.

Not so much.

Stafford might have just two of the aforementioned targets Saturday night when the lowly Lions (4-10) host the NFC-leading Atlanta Falcons (12-2).

``There are NFL teams that go through this, and we're one of them,'' Stafford said. ``It's obviously easier when guys stay healthy and you can work with the same guys all year.''

That's what happened for the most part last year when Stafford stayed healthy for a change and had a trio of receivers - before Broyles was drafted - a pair of tight ends and Best to throw to during a 5-0 start.

Since a concussion knocked Best off the field more than a year ago, the Lions have lost almost twice as many games as they've won. Losing Best in the backfield has made the team even more one-dimensional, relying on Stafford to throw early and often.

Stafford finished last season with 663 attempts, the third-highest total in NFL history. With 629 throws this season, he is on pace to easily break the league's single-season mark of 691 set by New England's Drew Bledsoe in 1994.

His attempts this season are up, and he is down in other categories.

Stafford's rating ranks 24th in the league after it was among the best last season. The Lions are 10-0 when Stafford has a 105-plus QB rating, but he hasn't reached that level of production and efficiency in more than a year.

He has thrown 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, a season after breaking out by throwing for 41 scores and getting picked off 16 times. His .595 passing percentage ranks 21st after connecting on 63-plus percent of his passes a year ago.

Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, though, still thinks the 24-year-old Stafford is on track to be one of the NFL's best quarterbacks - ever.

Linehan said Stafford is not the one to blame for his QB rating dipping drastically.

``It has more to do with the continuity of his receiving corps that has not been there,'' Linehan said. ``We didn't have any injuries last year with the guys we were counting on.

``It's not an excuse, but you're not going to have the same rhythm and timing if you've got a revolving door at your skill positions.''

Stafford has been good enough to help Johnson chase a record. He is 182 yards receiving from breaking the single-season mark of 1,848 set by Jerry Rice with San Francisco in 1995.

That's of little consolation for either player, or the team, during the franchise's 10th double-digit loss season in 12 years.

Shaun Hill, Detroit's 32-year-old backup QB, said Stafford will eventually find out this season helped him when he looks back.

``That doesn't take away from the sting of the season, but in the long run, he will be better for it,'' Hill said.

Stafford is hoping he can bounce back quickly from his worst game statistically since the No. 1 pick from the 2009 NFL draft was a rookie.

``The great thing about this league is you got another chance and you got another opportunity to go out and play and play well,'' he said.

It would be tough to play worse.

Stafford completed just 24 of 50 passes for 246 yards without a TD and had two of his three interceptions returned for touchdowns in a 38-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, who had lost nine straight. That extended Detroit's losing streak to six games.

Privately and publicly, Stafford took the blame for the latest setback that gave Detroit the NFL's longest active losing string.

``This losing streak has hurt an awful lot, but good quarterbacks are always going to put it on their shoulders,'' Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said.

The Falcons don't feel sorry for Stafford, a former Georgia star, but they're also not getting too cocky about keeping him humbled.

``Sometimes the season doesn't go the way you planned, but he's still playing well,'' Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson said. ``He's right up there at the top in passing yards among all the quarterbacks.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

AP Sports Writer George Henry in Flowery Branch, Ga., contributed to this story.

---

Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrylage

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Mejia: AFC Preseason Notes
Lawrence: Trends to Watch - September
Lawrence: 2014 NFC Season Preview
Marshall: Ravens rising up
Lawrence: 2014 AFC Season Preview
ASA: NFC North Notebook
ASA: NFC South Notebook
Marshall: Philadelphia Hype
Rogers: AFC North Preview
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NFL Pro Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NFL Hot Streaks
6-1 L7 Guarantees, 68% +996 TY
6-0 L6 G-Plays, 10-4 L14 Picks
6-0 L6 Guaranteed Plays
3-1 L4 Picks, 5-1 G-Plays TY
5-1 Preseason Record
7-2 L9, 10-4 This Year
4 Straight NFL Wins
5-2 Last 7 Selections
MLB Pro Baseball Expert Sports Picks - MLB Playoffs
2014 NFL SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 950
James Manos + 850
Bruce Marshall + 630
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
No Games Last Week  
   
   
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
James Manos 76 %
Scott Pritchard 70 %
ASA 67 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 651
Scott Pritchard + 490
The Gold Sheet + 281
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 873
Hank Goldberg + 600
ASA + 200
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
John Fisher + 270
Antony Dinero + 228
ASA + 200
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!