Sunday, July 07, 2013

Projecting The Packers 2013 Record

One of the few problems with the Green Bay Packers' amazing 15-1 record in 2011 was that it could only go down next season. A perfect 16-0 season was possible, but not likely, and a perfect record isn't much help in the playoffs anyway.

Over at Grantland, Bill Barnwell looks ahead to next season to see which teams may surprise or disappoint based on Pythagorean projections, but first he looked back at the 2011 season:
In last year's primer, I highlighted five teams that had particularly good records in close games in 2011: the Raiders (7-2 in close games in 2011), Packers (5-1), Saints (4-1), 49ers (6-2), and Steelers (5-2). 
Of those five teams, only the 49ers improved because they made a change (for the better) at quarterback. No knock on Aaron Rodgers, but it was nearly impossible for him to improve on an MVP season in 2011.

As Barnwell looks ahead to 2013, he lists the teams with the best and worst 2012 records in one-score games, and the Packers weren't on either list. So while the 15-1 record of 2011 was unsustainable, the 11-5 of last season (which was good enough to win the NFC North) wasn't a fluke and a better indication of the team's actual ability during the regular season.

The Packers had the fourth best point differential in the NFC last season, and tied for the third best record, with no obvious sign that they over or under achieved. While the Packers had a strong 2013 draft, it's not a given that those rookies will make an impact. But based on how the returning veterans played in 2012, it looks like another 11-5 record is the most likely outcome.

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