How strong are the Packers? Possibly more importantly, at least from a fan’s perspective, how good is Aaron Rodgers? Since the start of Free Agency as we know it – March 1st, 1993 – I’ve found is essentially when history is from which best to pull. Here, we are taking a look at the defenses of Super Bowl champions.
Point Differential Standings
Since the start of free agency, a span of 28 (completed) seasons, the average point differential of the eventual Super Bowl champion = +142, ranking 4th. Of the 28 champions, a team with a worse ranking than 4th has occurred just ten times.
Entering Week 18 of the NFL season, Green Bay ranks 10th in point differential at +86. Teams ranking 10th or worse in point differential have won the Super Bowl only four times in the past 28 seasons, with the most-recent time being Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos in the 2015 season. They were 10th in point differential, 19th in scoring offense, but 4th in scoring defense. Each of the four teams ranked 10th or worse, only Denver had a top-12 scoring defense. The teams were:
- 2007 Giants; 13th in point differential; 17th in scoring D
- 2011 Giants; 19th and 25th D
- 2012 Ravens; 11th and 12th D
- 2015 Broncos; 10th and 4th D
It’s tough to determine these teams as anything other than “Getting In and Getting Hot,” however the quarterback play was elevated in January of each of those teams, aside from Denver. They had Von Miller completely take over the Super Bowl and their secondary shut down Brady and the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. The others saw Eli Manning play fairly well in those postseasons, and Joe Flacco, arguably, having the single best postseason in NFL history. The point is, the quarterback needs to heat up if your point differential isn’t top 4…even then your quarterback needs to lead and play well regardless.
Also looking at the standings, this should claim the Packers, who have the best record, are great at winning close games, posting a record of 6-2 in one-score games, is also chewing on that 35-point opening day loss in Jacksonville vs. New Orleans. That does skew the numbers a bit, but that’s happened over history too.
What this all comes down to is one question; how good is Aaron Rodgers? It’s really a question of more than just statistics and eye test. Of the seventeen quarterbacks that have won a Super Bowl over the last 28 seasons, four quarterbacks have averaged (keep in mind if they won just a single ring, that’s their average) the #1 scoring defense in the NFL. Each of those quarterbacks have only won 1 Super Bowl each. Begs the question that, if anyone can win 1 Super Bowl with a great defense, why assume Aaron Rodgers is better than everyone else when he’s accomplished the same as Brett Favre, Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, and Russell Wilson with the same help. The lone Super Bowl championship that Aaron Rodgers has, he had the 2nd scoring defense and needed all of it to win.
Of the other gentlemen on the list, four of them have won with a scoring defense ranked 12th or worse. Keep in mind that’s an average ranking, so Eli Manning has won two Super Bowls with defensive rankings of 17th and 25th, Brees won with the 20th ranked scoring defense, and even Joe Flacco had the 12th ranked defense. The reason to look at it this way, Aaron Rodgers has had defenses that poor, and far better, throughout his entire career, and has only mustered one ring, and needed as much help as the other quarterbacks that have been considered “awful.”
Something to ponder heading into this, possibly his last, postseason. How good is Aaron Rodgers, really?
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