The Packers will win the Super Bowl this season.
Why? The statistics told me so.
There's two statistics I've come to put on a pedestal: turnover differential and quarterback rating differential. If a team does well in these two categories, they stand a good chance of not only winning any individual game but also going onto win football's ultimate prize: Super Bowl glory.
Let's start with quarterback rating differential. It's one team's quarterback rating minus the quarterback rating of all the opponents they've faced all season long.
If you've paid close attention to the Packers this year, you know they're pretty darn good in these statistical categories. Aaron Rodgers set the record for the highest single-season passer rating in NFL history (122.5), and the one game Matt Flynn played in, he had arguably the best single-game performance in franchise history.
The Packers defense, meanwhile, even though they've given up a boatload of yards this season, they hold opposing quarterbacks to a pretty low passer rating, because it's negatively affected by interceptions. The Packers led the NFL with 31 interceptions this season, eight more than the next closest team.
Because of these reasons, the Packers led the NFL with a 42.0 passer rating differential this season (122.6 for minus 80.6 against).
Going 15-1 is nice, winning the division is nice, having lots of Pro Bowlers is nice, but the goal of every team in the league is to win the Super Bowl. And one of the most accurate statistical predictors of Super Bowl success might be quarterback rating differential.
He lays out how effective quarterback rating differential has been in determining the Super Bowl champion throughout history. Consider the following from Byrne:
• an incredible 40 of 69* NFL champions (58 percent) since 1940 finished the year No. 1 or No. 2 in Passer Rating Differential
• 67 of 69* champions (97 percent) since 1940 finished the year ranked in the top 10 in Passer Rating Differential.
The Packers' quarterback rating differential this season would rank as the 10th best figure in NFL history since the AFL-NFL merger in 1960, according to the figures presented by Byrne, which is also significant:
The top 25 tells us that winning the Passer Rating Differential battle is the fast track to winning a championship in pro football: 14 of the Top 25 teams won NFL championships or Super Bowls. Three others lost in the championship game.
Of the 71 champions since 1940, an incredible 26 of them -- 37 percent -- finished No. 1 in Passer Rating Differential; another 14 finished No. 2 in Passer Rating Differential. In other words, 56 percent of NFL champions were No. 1 or No. 2 in PRD.
The top 25 teams were near impossible to beat, with a combined record of 299-63-4 (.822). The average team in the Top 25 won 12 games and lost 2.5 games.
As far as winning any one particular game, I like to look at turnover differential.
It's part of the reason the Packers have been so good under head coach Mike McCarthy. He stresses to the team the importance of protecting the football and taking it away on defense.
The Packers simply don't turn the ball over much. Rodgers threw only six interceptions this season. Only 49ers quarterback Alex Smith threw fewer (five) among regular starters.
The rest of the team only had six fumbles combined, zero by Rodgers.
Forcing turnovers on defense was the best thing that unit did in 2011. The Packers defense tied for the NFL lead with 38 total takeaways, which is fumbles and interceptions combined.
Their total turnover differential was plus-24, good for second in the NFL (behind only the 49ers, plus-28).
The Packers' turnover differential of plus-69 since 2006 when McCarthy became head coach is also second in the NFL over that span (behind only the Patriots, plus-76).
It comes as no surprise how the Packers have done under McCarthy when winning the turnover battle:
Turnover Margin GB Record Since 2006
minus-3 or worse, 0-2 (.000)
minus-2, 1-7 (.125)
minus-1, 5-11 (.313)
even, 9-7 (.563)
plus-1, 21-3 (.875)
plus-2, 12-1 (.923)
plus-3, or more 15-2 (.882)
The turnover differential and passer rating differential of the Packers are no fluke. These are items stressed by McCarthy and the coaching staff because they know how they lead to victories.
And if the Packers can come out ahead of the Giants in these two categories on Sunday, Green Bay will be well on their way to another Super Bowl title in February.
Thanks to loyal Cheesehead TV reader and commenter PackerRS for his direction in informing this article.
Brian Carriveau is a writer for Cheesehead TV. To contact Brian, email [email protected].
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