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The Statistics Say Packers Will Win Super Bowl

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The Statistics Say Packers Will Win Super Bowl

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.

If you haven't read these two articles by Kerry J. Byrne of Cold Hard Football Facts over at SportsIllustrated.com, they're highly suggested reading and very informative.

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 carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (21) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

darrin's picture

Great stuff. Puts into perspective how over-blown yards allowed really is. Could make the case that the old "defense wins championships" doesn't mean as much in today's quarterback-dominated league.

And also goes to show how important a QB that takes care of the ball is. How would the '07 season have ended without that last turnover in the NFCCG?

Brian Carriveau's picture

One of the great things about turnover and quarterback rating differential is that it takes into effect offense and defense, a 50/50 split.

IowaPackFan's picture

Well, it still does just in a different way (disregard yards, acquire turnovers)

alexsmith elite QB fan's picture

Whoever ran your stats is clearly not doing it right. The 49ers have WORKED for every victory! They take a blue collar approach. All I can think is this, who ever made this claim is in Wisconsin, maybe there is crack in his/her cheese. Maybe you QB should work less harder on selling insurance and a little harder on being the "elite" QB the "experts" claim he is.

Norman's picture

I was originally going to post this as a snarky comment but got to thinking that is actually an interesting question: I wonder if using the new ESPN QBR rating differential instead of the passer rating efficiency differential would more closely correlate to championship success?

And no, I'm not a fan of the QBR but it would be interesting to see how it compares. Can you have that comparison for us by 5:00 today Brian? :-)

Chad Toporski's picture

Good question. Although, since ESPN's QBR is affected by wins and losses, my initial thought is that it might be a little skewed from the get go. But still worth investigating...

Chad Toporski's picture

Very interesting, Brian.

Obviously this doesn't "guarantee" a SB win, but it puts the odds heavily in their favor. Another shot of confidence at the very least.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Don't worry Chad, ol' Fitzy's guaranteeing a SB win, so go take out as big of loan as you can get and drop it on the GBP... It's happening.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Great read, thanks Brian And RS.

For what it's worth, I expect to see a better product on the field come Sunday as far as our Defense goes. Call me a dreamer, but I think they're gonna ball.

GBP 4 LIFE

tony's picture

BOHICA, Giants... BOHICA....

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Lol, listening in the jungle as I type this.

PackersRS's picture

Thanks for putting in readable terms my ramblings man.

What's that say, great and humble minds think alike? It's something close to that. ;)

And before the last game against the Lions, virtually meaningless and played without key players, this 2011 Packers had an even better QB rating differential. It was the 6th all time team, IIRC.

Mojo's picture

Brian, you've made me so confident, people will look at me differently now.

bomdad's picture

My prediction, the Giants give away a fumble on a punt or KO. And the earlier it happens, the more likely a blowout by the Packers.

Point is, there's alot of ignoring special teams this week. :)

Norman's picture

Good point. This is the first year in a long time that I haven't wanted to ignore special teams.

bryce's picture

Well written, interesting stats. Obviously even a small deviation from the average performance creates a problem, but still useful info. Do work Pack!

EP66's picture

Mark Twain said,"There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.....Go Pack!!!

some guy's picture

Ehh, I like our chances as well but Bryne is NOT the guy you want to go to for statistical analysis. His whole passer rating differential thing is cherrypicked nonsense. He takes a league that gradually expanded from 10 teams in 1940 to the present 32-team format and throws them all on a level playing field, in the process butchering the analysis so badly that he's including finishing in the top 10 *in a 10-team league* as proof that his stat indicates success. You have to get to the merger in 1970 - 30 years into Byrne's dataset - before placing in the top 10 means you're in the top half of the league, so what does "40 of 69" mean when you need to discount almost half of that 69 right off the bat? Next step, which I don't have the patience for, is to do the homework on the 40 portion of that figure. If we find that a large portion of it came during the 1940-1970 period then this claim's credibility quickly goes from wounded to nonexistant.

There's also the issue of grouping. These are NOT by any means similar sets of stats:

Pass Rate Differential

1. Green Bay +38
2. Team A +12
3. Team B +9
...
32. Team Z -37

vs.

1. Green Bay +32
2. Team A +30
3. Team B +28
...
32. Team Z +3

Green Bay's still #1, but being #1 in the second case is a lot less meaningful.

btw this isn't some anti-stat rant by any means, but it is strongly anti-Byrne's stats, because they suck. Same guy says his QB rating method - count every rush as a successful completion and add rushing yardage to the QB's passing total - is the only one that shows the true worth of Tim Tebow. Yes, shockingly enough, counting the good things Tebow does on the ground as if he did them in the air makes him look like he's throwing the ball better than he is. They charge people for access to this crap. Do not trust this man.

And like I said, I like our chances. I just like them for reasons that do not include Byrne's hackish conclusions :p

PackersRS's picture

Right, using the top 10 team including teams pre-merger is stat-padding.

Using the #1 or #2 is not, regardless of the difference between them and the rest of the league.

Neither is using the top 25 all time.

I completely agree that it's shallow, but you can't discout something that the Packers organization itself uses to measure season success.

Shallow or not, it's the closest indicator of success that there is.

Bob's picture

If I understand the stats, your saying that if Rodgers has a great game, and the defense gets 2 or 3 turnovers. The Packers win. I'll go along with that thought, E=MC/2. Sorry can't figure out how to square the C.

Bearmeat's picture

No one saw this coming. #1 in TO differential. #1 in Passer Rating Differential. This should NOT equal GB getting clobbered at home amid losing both these important stats....

smh...

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