The new-look offense of the Los Angeles Rams will have a plethora of eyes on them as they will be featured in five primetime games this season. Sean McVay’s done quite well for himself in primetime already: 4-1 on Monday Night Football, 3-1 on Thursday Night Football, and 4-3 on Sunday Night Football. McVay’s offense has failed to score at least 20 points on only four occasions in primetime, and he also knew how to win the greatest Monday Night shootout of all-time.
And that was when Jared Goff was running the show.
Matthew Stafford did not have many chances to play in primetime games during his stint with the Detroit Lions, only playing in 20 of them out of his 12 years there. The most primetime games he got in a single season has been four (2012 and 2015), a mark he could top in 2021 just by having a healthy campaign.
But because he was usually playing on a bad Lions team, and because franchises like Detroit only tend to get their primetime opportunities after a good season (the Lions went 10-6 and 11-5 in 2011 and 2014, then disappointed), and yes because he isn’t perfect, Stafford only has a 6-14 record in those 20 contests.
Stafford has played well in primetime, though certainly not to the standard that he has come to expect from himself, and definitely not what Les Snead traded two first round picks for: 493-of-755, 65.3% completions, 24 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 7.54 Y/A, 88.6 passer rating, and three rushing touchdowns.
Of those 20 games, Stafford has thrown at least one interception in 11 of them and only thrown multiple touchdowns in eight games. However, he does know how to celebrate a primetime victory.
In late 2015, in a Monday Night Football battle against a stumbling Saints team, Stafford threw three first half touchdowns to give Detroit a 28-3 lead. The Lions hung on for victory and then Stafford hung a Ray Lewis dance on the ESPN broadcast crew:
Matthew Stafford did the Ray Lewis dance on SportsCenter after the Lions win on Monday Night Football. pic.twitter.com/0sPsMQGd3T— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) December 22, 2015
Stafford is actually 5-6 on Monday Night Football, but he has suffered with a 1-8 record on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday Night Football. (Because he plays for Detroit, Stafford has only participated in a single Thursday Night Football contest; the Lions tend to play on a Thursday morning or afternoon during the season.)
Because they play at the NFL’s fanciest new stadium, the Rams will be host to two primetime games at SoFi: Week 1 against the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football (a team that Stafford is as familiar with as any quarterback) and then on Week 9 against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday Night Football.
Stafford’s second ever Thursday Night game will be in Week 5 at the Seattle Seahawks, and then he’ll get the other two NFC West teams on Monday Night Football: the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10 and the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14. And if by chance they are competing for the division in Week 18, it’s entirely possible that Rams-49ers part two will be flexed.
So not only must Stafford turn around his primetime record, he must also wins his games within a division that could be the toughest in the NFL. With late games against the likes of the Seahawks and Cardinals, he has an opportunity for two birds with one stone.