Now that’s why the Los Angeles Rams traded for Matthew Stafford.

Stafford had a marvelous performance Monday night, throwing for 287 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Rams to a 30-23 road win over the Arizona Cardinals.

The victory kept the Rams’ fading NFC West title hopes alive, but fear not, Lions fans, L.A. still needs a few breaks to go its way to avoid being a road underdog in the first round of the playoffs.

Arizona holds a one-game lead in the NFC West with four games to play and owns the tiebreaker over the Rams by virtue of its superior division record.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford warms up prior to the against the Cardinals, Monday in Glendale, Ariz.

Both teams have division games left, so that could change. But the Cardinals have enough cushion to withstand a loss — they visit the Lions this week and close the season with games against the Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks — and still win the division.

The Lions, of course, are keeping close tabs on their friends out west because of the draft implications. The Lions own the Rams’ first-round pick and stand to benefit from an early postseason exit by Stafford.

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If L.A. wins its division, it will have a first-round home game, perhaps against an inferior team like Washington or the San Francisco 49ers. If the Cardinals win, Stafford’s path to playoff success in the top-heavy NFC becomes more difficult.

Currently, the Rams project to play a wild-card game in Dallas, and no one around here needs a reminder of what happened the last time Stafford faced his hometown Cowboys in the playoffs.

Jerry Bergman, the head linesman who picked up the penalty flag in that Lions-Cowboys game seven years ago, worked the Rams’ win over the Cardinals on Monday night, so it’s possible Stafford’s luck is changing.

But with little local…



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