AccuScore: Favre’s final gift to Packers

AccuScore.com has run more than 10,000 simulations for Yahoo! Sports, calculating how each team’s performance changes in response to game conditions, opponent’s abilities, roster moves, weather and more. Each game is simulated one play at a time and the game is replayed a minimum of 10,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages, player statistics and a variety of game-changing scenarios.

It was surprising to most when Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress informed the media on Tuesday that Brett Favre(notes) had decided against coming out of retirement. With Favre, Minnesota was poised to win the NFC North again this year. Favre was not forecasted to have a great season, by his standards, but his ability to perform on third down and in the red zone was superior to the combination of Sage Rosenfels(notes) and Tarvaris Jackson(notes). When Favre plays well, the defense cannot load up the box with the defenders and this opens up opportunities for running back Adrian Peterson. When Favre plays poorly, defenders drop back into coverage in hopes of baiting him into throwing an interception. While interceptions are not good, this does have the benefit of taking defenders out of the box and again, leading to more opportunities for Peterson.

Ultimately, Favre was projected to put up better passing stats than the Jackson/Rosenfels combination.

SIMULATION STATS CMP ATT % YARDS YPA TD INT
Brett Favre 272 433 62.8% 3088 7.1 22 16
Jackson / Rosenfels 256 429 59.7% 2944 6.9 20 18

More importantly, he helped the offense generate more first downs and more total plays which helped Peterson get 30 more carries over the course of the season. With Favre, Peterson was projected for 1,784 rushing yards with 14 touchdowns. Without Favre, Peterson is forecasted for 1,600 yards and 12 touchdowns.

AccuScore has the Green Bay Packers playing surprisingly well. The team out-scored opponents last season and was statistically much better than its 6-10 record would indicate. With Favre, Minnesota was holding off Green Bay and the improved Chicago Bears to repeat as NFC North champs 42 percent of the time (best in the division)

WITH FAVRE BACK
NFC NORTH PLAYOFF WIN DIV WIN LOSS
MINNESOTA VIKINGS 65% 42% 10.2 5.8
GREEN BAY PACKERS 52% 30% 9.8 6.2
CHICAGO BEARS 47% 28% 9.4 6.7
DETROIT LIONS 1% 0% 3.3 12.7

However, now that Favre is not coming back, the Packers are getting the surprise edge in the division. Perhaps this is Favre’s parting gift to the Green Bay fans.

NO FAVRE
NFC NORTH PLAYOFF WIN DIV WIN LOSS
GREEN BAY PACKERS 60% 36% 9.8 6.1
CHICAGO BEARS 57% 35% 9.5 6.4
MINNESOTA VIKINGS 51% 29% 9.3 6.6
DETROIT LIONS 1% 0% 3.3 12.6

One note: Rosenfels has 22 interceptions the past two seasons (15 games). If Rosenfels wins the starting job and can cut his interception rate by 33 percent (throw 1 INT per game, not 1.5) while still effectively passing downfield, the Vikings would find themselves in a virtual tie for the division lead.


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Updated Wednesday, Jul 29, 2009