CBS Sports recently had an interesting feature predicting the number of wins for each of the NFL teams this year including the Green Bay Packers. Per Bovada Sports Book the over/under for the Packers season is 11 wins. The CBS Sports experts chose the ‘over’ for the Packers – meaning that their expectation is for 12-16 wins. The Packers have only won as many as 12 games in a season three times in the McCarthy era. 12 is a lofty number indeed.
Should the Packers reach that number it will equal the Packers win total under quarterback Brett Favre when he was 31 years old. In 2001 Favre was the same age as Rodgers is this year – 31 about to turn 32. Rodgers will turn 32 on December 2.
In 2001 Favre had already won Super Bowl XXXI in 1996 with the expectation to win even more during his Packers career. But as we now know it was his only SB victory.
Favre’s 2001 team finished 12-4-0 good for 2nd in NFC Central Division. They finished second to the Bears who were 13-3. The Bears lasted only one game in the playoffs where they were trounced by the Philadelphia Eagles 33-19.
That Packers offense scored 390 points (24.4/g), 5th in the NFL. The defense allowed 266 points (16.6/g) which was also 5th in the league. Differential of 124 points (7.8/g), 6th in the league. They too were predicted to win 11 games that year.
The parallels to the makeup of the 2001 Packers team and this year’s squad are very similar.
Favre had his strongest offensive line combination in Clifton, Wahle, Flanigan, Rivera, and Tauscher. It went on to become the finest offensive line in 20 years.
This year’s OL with another year of experience together is expected to return in tact offering Rodgers the best offensive line of his career.
The playmakers then and now were also similar in talent.
Favre’s receivers were Freeman, Bradford, Schroeder, and TE Franks. Running backs were Ahman Green and Dorsey Levens with big FB William Henderson blocking. The sum total was pretty effective.
The Packers primary receivers this year have been rated by Bleacher Report as the best in the NFL with Cobb, Nelson, Adams, and R.Rodgers at TE. The running backs of Lacy and Starks compares favorably to Favre’s double threat duo as does the fullback. Given our perspective today, this year’s talent should surpass that of the 2001 squad.
The Minister of Defense Reggie White had moved on by this time, but the defense was strong. Vonnie Holiday, Gilbert Brown, Darren Sharper, LeRoy Butler, Tyrone Williams and Bernardo Harris formed a solid nucleus.
The Packers defense of 2015 lacks the big name recognition of the 2001 club, but there is reason to believe that the defense can become a top-ten outfit once again. Favre’s defense was probably better than this year’s bunch.
This however is where the similarities will end.
The pieces were there in 2001 for a second Favre Super Bowl run.
The Packers defeated the 49’ers in the Wild Card game at Lambeau Field. They advanced to face off against the St. Louis Rams.
The Kurt Warner lead Rams, the self-proclaimed Greatest Show on Turf, steam-rolled to a league-best 14-2 record. The Packers ended up losing to the Rams 45-17. The Rams eventually went on to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
That Rams game may have been Favre’s worst game in a Packers uniform. Although he threw two touchdowns he also threw six interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns, In addition the Packers fumbled the ball 3 times with the Rams recovering on two of those occasions.
One can easily envision the Packers winning 12 during the upcoming season.
The offense returns intact. The defense seems poised to make a strong push to prominence once again. The special teams cannot be worse than they were last year – so by default will be better.
Should the Pack indeed win 12 games it is hard to envision that record not earning a bye in the NFC. It is also inconceivable that the ever-careful Aaron Rodgers would ever self-destruct as Favre ended up doing against the Rams. The Packers may lose games, but most often it is not directly attributed to Rodgers miscues.
Will it be enough for a Super Bowl victory this year? According to betting site Bovada, the Packers are 7-1 odds to win it all, bested only by NFC nemesis Seattle Seahawks listed at 6-1. I am not a betting man, but I like the Rodgers to accomplish what Favre could not at the same age.
That is to conclude the season with a Super Bowl victory.——————
Jeff Albrecht grew up just north of Green Bay and was lucky enough to attend some of the Lombardi Era classic games, like the 1962 championship and the Ice Bowl. Jeff went on to play HS football in the Green Bay area and College ball at UW - Stevens Point. Jeff is retired but still does some writing for his local paper. Jeff is a writer with AllGreenBayPackers.com and you can follow him on twitter at @pointerjeff .