While at times the Matthew Stafford-Jared Goff quarterback swap between the Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions in 2021 seems like ancient history, the blockbuster trade put both teams on a collusion course that we are seeing play out in real time.
The Rams were a team ready to win and found immediate success with Stafford. They won Super Bowl LVI at home in SoFi Stadium then rebuilt their roster to return to the playoffs in 2023. Los Angeles seems primed for contention over the next two seasons at least, though they’ll need to find a long-term solution at quarterback once Stafford hangs up his cleats.
Meanwhile it took the Lions time to find their footing, but they’ve consistently improved under head coach Dan Campbell and took down the Rams en route to the NFC Championship game this season. While this past weekend’s results were disappointing for a Detroit team that is on the rise, they also should feel optimistic about their staying power in the NFC.
Have a feeling yesterday was the beginning of a new 'Rams-Saints' rivalry from 2017-2019.— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakTST) January 15, 2024
Yesterday won't be the first time over next 2-3 years that Rams-Lions play in a big game. Clearly a lot of animosity between the fanbases.
Everyone were friends in 2021. Not anymore.
Three years removed from the Stafford-Goff trade both the Rams and Lions are reaching the height of their respective rebuilds. These timelines put them on a collision course over the next couple of seasons. If you enjoyed the highly anticipated wildcard battle between LA and Detroit this season, then buckle up because it’s probably not the final playoff clash we’ll see between these teams.
The Rams are also set to travel to Detroit for a regular season matchup next year—the NFL would be wise to put this game on primetime. When you look across this year’s teams in the NFC, the Rams and Lions seem to have the most staying power along with the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers.
Of course nothing stays the same in the NFL for long, and the forces of parity will do all it can to pull each team back towards average. However, if the Rams and Lions stay on this current trajectory, there’s a good chance we see them clash in the NFC championship game next year instead of early in the wildcard round.
The path to the Super Bowl in the NFC could easily run through either SoFi Stadium or Ford Field in 2024.