Thursday, November 29, 2012

What The Loss Of Cedric Benson Means To The Packers

It's not a big surprise because just last week RB Cedric Benson said he was talking to more doctors about his injured foot, but now we know that it will keep him out the rest of the year.
Just looking at their win-loss record, his absence shouldn't make much of a difference. Since he was injured during their loss to the Colts, the Packers have gone 5-1, while losing 3 of 5 with him as their starter. Of course, that isn't the entire picture.

While Football Outsiders gives him a negative DVOA percentage, his percentage is still higher than either RB James Starks or RB Alex Green, and Green in particular has struggled. The only back with a positive grade is FB John Kuhn, who's excelled during his few carries (12). Really, Kuhn's not that good and his actual value is closer to break even based on his play in 2010. Kuhn might be better than Starks, but it's not by a wide margin. If Starks is the main ball carrier going forward, I'd expect he'll end the season closer to his 2011 performance and only slightly worse than Kuhn or Benson.

There's only one game remaining on the regular season schedule when they might really miss Benson; the December 16th game against the Bears. Here's the teams left on the schedule (two games against the Vikings) and each team's defensive rankings according to Football Outsiders:

Team Pass Ranking Rush Ranking
Vikings 24 8
Lions 20 18
Bears 1 3
Titans 29 26

He could provide a boost against the Vikings and Lions, but both teams are struggling to defend against the pass, so that's probably where the offense should attack anyway. Against the Titans, who can't seem to stop any team's rushing attack, it probably doesn't matter who's carrying the ball.

The Bears have the best defense in the NFL, so it'll be a tough game no matter. But Benson had a strong game in their previous meeting (20 carries for 81 yards). If he'll be missed in any game this season, that would seem like the one.

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