Checking the Numbers: Bears-Packers Game

Jim Prisching, Associated Press / September 13, 2009

Jim Prisching, Associated Press / September 13, 2009

This past Sunday night, the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears matched up for another game in this great rivalry . Both teams fought hard, with Bears apparently wrapping it up with about 2 minutes left in the game. But, then the Packers quickly drove down the field and won on a long TD pass from Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings. Well, there are plenty of recaps out there reviewing the game, but here I wanted to look at this game from my own analytical perspective.

In this post, I took the box score stat from the game and compared how each team did against their season averages from the 2008 season. If it were later in the year, I would compare them against each team’s average so far in the 2009 season. But, since the previous season usually serves as the baseline for predictions going into a new year, I think that analyzing against the previous season’s numbers is perfectly acceptable. Perhaps after week 6 or 7 (maybe 8), I will begin using current season averages as the basis for comparison.

So, anyway, on to the numbers! (Box Scores taken from Yahoo! Sports and 2008 averages from Pro-Football-Reference.com) Below, I have four tables.

Bears’ Offensive Boxscore vs. Bears’ 2008 Offensive Averages

The first is a comparison of Chicago’s offensive numbers from this game with their average numbers from the 2008 season. This gives an indication as to how well the Packers’ defense performed in this game because it shows whether the Bears’ offensive numbers were above or below their 2008 averages.

Team Statistics Packers’ Def vs. Bears’ Off
  CHI CHIAvgOff % Difference
  First Downs 18 16.5 9.09%
    Passing 12 9.56 25.49%
    Rushing 4 6.13 -34.69%
  TOTAL NET YARDS 352 295.88 18.97%
    Total Plays 69 61.94 11.40%
    Average Gain Per Play 5.1 4.8 6.25%
  NET YARDS RUSHING 86 104.56 -17.75%
    Rushes 31 27.13 14.29%
    Average Per Rush 2.8 3.9 -28.21%
  NET YARDS PASSING 266 191.31 39.04%
    Yards Per Pass Play 7 5.5 27.27%
    Times Sacked 2 1.81 10.34%
    Had Intercepted 4 0.88 357.14%
    Fumbles Lost 0 0.81 -100.00%

The number that really sticks out here is the 4 interceptions for Chicago. Last year, with Orton, they averaged less than one INT per game. This can’t be encouraging to Bears’ fans, but it’s just one game. No need to start calling Cutler the next Rex Grossman or anything. Every QB has a game or two like this. Other items of note:

  • the Packers held Chicago’s rushing game to nearly 18% below last year’s average, but they allowed 39% higher passing numbers than the Bears averaged last year
  • Green Bay’s defense allowed about 19% more yards than the Bears averaged last year.

These differences may reflect Cutler replacing Orton and going down the field more than Orton would have. The interceptions are probably a combination of a more aggressive passer and Cutler still gaining experience with all new receivers. The new zone blitz defense that the Packers are using under Dom Capers probably confused him some too.

Packers’ Offensive Boxscore vs. Bears’ 2008 Defensive Averages

The second table is a comparison of the Packers’ offensive numbers from the game to the Bears’ defensive averages from 2008. This tells us how the Packers offense performed compared to Bears’ defensive averages from last year.

Team Statistics Packers’ Off vs. Bears’ Def
  GB  CHIAvgDef % Difference
  First Downs 12 19.63 -38.85%
    Passing 8 13 -38.46%
    Rushing 4 5.81 -31.18%
  TOTAL NET YARDS 226 334.69 -32.47%
    Total Plays 54 67.94 -20.52%
    Average Gain Per Play 4.2 4.9 -14.29%
  NET YARDS RUSHING 76 93.5 -18.72%
    Rushes 22 27.31 -19.45%
    Average Per Rush 3.5 3.4 2.94%
  NET YARDS PASSING 150 241.19 -37.81%
    Yards Per Pass Play 4.7 5.9 -20.34%
    Times Sacked 4 1.75 128.57%
    Had Intercepted 0 1.38 -100.00%
    Fumbles Lost 0 0.63 -100.00%

Overall, the Packers’ offense struggled in this game, putting up fewer numbers just about across the board compared to the Bears’ defensive averages from a year ago. Part of that may also be due to Jordy Nelson’s KR average of 31 yards per return. This would have given the Packers a shorter field. The one main category that they beat the Bears’ numbers was in the turnovers, with zero.

Packers’ Offensive Boxscore vs. Packers‘ 2008 Offensive Averages

The third table compares the Packers’ offensive output in this game against their average offensive output from 2008. So, it gives an indication as to how the Bears’ defense performed against the Packers’2008 offensive averages.

Team Statistics Bears’ Def vs. Packers’ Off
  GB  GB AvgOff % Difference
  First Downs 12 18.69 -35.79%
    Passing 8 11.38 -29.67%
    Rushing 4 6.19 -35.35%
  TOTAL NET YARDS 226 351.13 -35.64%
    Total Plays 54 63.25 -14.62%
    Average Gain Per Play 4.2 5.6 -25.00%
  NET YARDS RUSHING 76 112.81 -32.63%
    Rushes 22 27.31 -19.45%
    Average Per Rush 3.5 4.1 -14.63%
  NET YARDS PASSING 150 238.31 -37.06%
    Yards Per Pass Play 4.7 6.6 -28.79%
    Times Sacked 4 2.13 88.24%
    Had Intercepted 0 0.81 -100.00%
    Fumbles Lost 0 0.5 -100.00%

This table just further highlights how successful the Bears were at stopping the Packers’ offense for much of the game. They held the Packers to nearly 36% below their 2008 average in total offense, nearly 33% below their rush average, and 37% below their passing average. They also sacked the Packers nearly twice their 2008 per game average.

Bears’ Offensive Boxscore vs. Packers‘ 2008 Defensive Averages

The fourth table compares the Bears’ offensive output with the Packers’ average defensive numbers from 2008. So, this gives an indication as to how the Bears’ offense performed against the Packers’ defense.

Team Statistics Bears’ Off vs. Packers’ Def
  CHI GB AvgDef % Difference
  First Downs 18 18.44 -2.37%
    Passing 12 8.81 36.17%
    Rushing 4 7.56 -47.11%
  TOTAL NET YARDS 352 334.31 5.29%
    Total Plays 69 62.69 10.07%
    Average Gain Per Play 5.1 5.3 -3.77%
  NET YARDS RUSHING 86 131.56 -34.63%
    Rushes 31 28.63 8.30%
    Average Per Rush 2.8 4.6 -39.13%
  NET YARDS PASSING 266 202.75 31.20%
    Yards Per Pass Play 7 6 16.67%
    Times Sacked 2 1.69 18.52%
    Had Intercepted 4 1.38 190.91%
    Fumbles Lost 0 0.38 -100.00%

Again, the key number here is the 4 interceptions that the Packers took from the Bears. In most other categories, the Bears’ offense outperformed the Packers’ 2008 defensive averages. The other main exception was in rushing, where the Bears gained nearly 35% below the average allowed by the Packers last year.

Overall, this was a pretty even game, with the Bears having the edge statistically, except for the turnover battle. Those turnovers were likely the difference in the game, allowing the Packers to stay in striking distance and win the game at the end.

Let me know your thoughts.

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