Matthew Stafford may have taken his last snap this season for the Detroit Lions. The Pro Bowl quarterback in Week 11, marking the second week in a row he's been sidelined with a back injury. The issue isn't something that's going away any time soon, either, considering the severity of it.
Specifically, Stafford is working to recover from fractures in his upper thoracic spine, and the latest report is he could miss upwards of six weeks -- per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Considering the Lions already have nine games in the books and a tenth set to take place on Sunday, if Stafford is indeed sidelined for six weeks, his earliest return would come no sooner than the postseason. With the Lions at 3-5-1 and dredging through fourth place in the NFC North, it will be a tall task for backup Jeff Driskel to mount what would be one of the best mid-season turnarounds in franchise history to push Detroit into the playoff picture -- giving Stafford a chance at playing in January.
As it stands, it's remains possible he'll be healthy enough to return before December concludes, but the Lions will also undoubtedly take into account their record when and if he is. If they can't string together wins over the next few games, it would be unwise to risk Stafford in a mathematically dead playoff hunt.
Stafford is usually known as one of the more durable players in the NFL, and not simply at the quarterback position. Including the playoffs, he started in 136 consecutive games before being forced to sit in Week 10 against the Chicago Bears, also marking the first time he's missed a start since the 2010 season. The problem here is evident, though, because the nature of his injury requires a deliberate approach that doesn't risk his availability going forward. Stafford is under contract with the Lions through the 2022 season and remains very much in the team's plans going forward, so protecting him at all costs will be the formula right now.
Much of the Lions woes in 2019 were not due to Stafford -- who threw for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns to only five interceptions in his eight games played, landing a passer rating of 106.0 in the process -- so it goes without saying his absence will be felt in a big way. Time will tell just how long that absence will be, but it doesn't look promising for the remainder of this season.