Thursday, September 07, 2006

What record should the Packers predict in 2006? Football Outsiders didn't predict the Packers record, but predicted that the Packers DVOA would be -13.4% and the 24th best in the league. That is behind Chicago and Detroit, but ahead of Minnesota. Looking back at FO's 2005 predictions, they calculated the Packers, Minnesota, and Detroit would compete for the division title, while Chicago would be in last place, so their 2006 projection is taken with a grain of salt. In 2006, FO calculated the Packers would have the 23rd offense, 22nd defense, and 26th special teams. The key column is the Packers schedule ranking; they play the 2nd easiest schedule.

The Packers offense might only be the 23rd best in 2006. The offensive line is still a work in progress, although better now than it was at the beginning of last season, but maybe worse than it was at the end of last season. If QB Brett Favre doesn't reduce the number of turnovers, then they could easily be that bad. The defense could be better than 22nd best, but the secondary has looked awful in the preseason. The special teams fell apart during the last preseason game, but most of the awful players (such as WR Cory Rodgers) have been released, while P Jon Ryan looks like a major upgrade over P B.J. Sander and K Dave Rayner will at least help the Packers improve their field position. With so many new starters (including at least 4 rookies), it is likely the team will be mediocre.

However, the saving grace is the Packers schedule. If the Packers at least beat the teams that project with an even lower DVOA than the Packers, then the Packers will finish 6-10 with home wins against New Orleans, St. Louis, N.Y. Jets, and Minnesota, plus road wins at Minnesota and San Francisco. If the Packers return to their traditional dominance with a win at Chicago (assuming they still lose at home and split the season series), their usual home win against Detroit, and another home win against Arizona, then their record would be 9-7. That seems reasonable with losses at Detroit, Philadelphia, Miami, Buffalo, and Seattle, plus home losses against Chicago and New England.

Unfortunately, the easiest schedule in the NFL belongs to Chicago, who would finish 15-1 (only Seattle projects with a higher DVOA) if they beat all the teams they should beat. Assuming Chicago finishes in first place, then the Packers 9-7 record is probably not good enough for the wild card (usually 10 wins is required). Four teams had 9-7 records last season, and none of them made the playoffs. It doesn't matter if the Packers finish 6-10 or 9-7, the Packers are unlikely to make it back to the playoffs in 2006.

No comments: