By: Will Burchfield
@burchie_kid

With the Lions closing in on a division title and their quarterback leading the way, Matthew Stafford’s MVP candidacy continues to rise.

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In ESPN’s latest MVP Poll, Stafford is trailing just three players with four games to go. The trio ahead of him? Derek Carr (first), Tom Brady (second) and Ezekiel Elliott (third). Then Stafford.

According to the gambling website Bovada, Stafford is in even better position to win MVP. He currently has 15-to-2 odds to claim the award, tied for third with Brady. Only Carr (7-to-2) and Elliott (12-to-5) have better odds.

Just five weeks ago, Stafford was on the fringes of the MVP race. With the Lions at 4-3 and many of Stafford’s best moments yet to come, Bovada listed the Lions’ quarterback as a 40-to-1 longshot to claim the award. He was ranked behind 15 other players.

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He has leapfrogged 12 of them since.

Stafford’s MVP candidacy rests largely on his team’s success. He doesn’t have the most glamorous numbers – indeed, his low turnover rate may be his shiniest statistic – but he has led the Lions on seven fourth-quarter comebacks. Remove Stafford from the equation, and it’s easy to envision those deficits becoming defeats.

In terms of value to his team, Stafford’s tough to top.

Still, to mark a serious push for the award down the stretch, he’ll have to gain ground in a number of individual categories. As ESPN points out, “Stafford feels like an MVP candidate because he passes the eye test and his team is 8-4, but he doesn’t have MVP stats.”

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Not yet, at least.