Tim Fuller / USA TODAY Sports

This is the news the Detroit Lions were hoping to receive. On Wednesday, Pro Bowl quarterback Matthew Stafford was placed on the team’s COVID-19 list for the second time this season, having been cleared earlier in the year after it was determined he registered a false positive. Earlier this week, after being labeled a “high-risk contact” stemming from close contact with a non-team member on Monday, the team held out hope he’d deliver enough negative tests between Wednesday and game day on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. 

Three days later, he’s now been cleared and activated for the NFC North clash, per Field Yates of ESPN. The bad news, which certainly could be worse, is that Stafford enters the game having not practiced all week. That said, Stafford is obviously familiar with the offense, so time will tell how missing practice this week impacts him — if at all. 

Stafford was flown via private plane to Minnesota to remain in isolation, with backup Chase Daniel on standby to potentially start, but the latter won’t be needed as QB1. With Stafford available to play, the Lions will enjoy better odds of downing the rival Vikings, but they’ll have to earn it — despite the Vikings themselves struggling in 2020. With Detroit sitting in third place in the division at 3-4 on the year, they’re only one game ahead of Minnesota and can’t afford to lose to them in Week 9. 

That would see the two teams flip seats in the division, putting the Lions in the basement, looking up at the three other clubs. 

Instead, they’ll breathe easy knowing Stafford is behind center, having not missed a single game in 2020 after being absent for eight regular season games in 2019 due to a back injury. Stafford has 13 touchdowns to only five interceptions this season, and 61.4 percent of his passes have found their intended target. He has been sacked 19 times through his eight games, though, so the Lions will need to protect him better to ensure he continues to be available for them going forward. 

As for Sunday, you can now count him in, so adjust your fantasy rosters and place your bets accordingly.

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