ESPN’s Prediction Model Predicts a Tough Packers Year, Should You Believe It?
Green Bay Packers are going to have haters to start the season. That’s okay. It happened last year too. Last year, it is the rookie head coach working with Aaron Rodgers. How would it work? People were penciling in the Chicago Bears winning the NFC North or making Mitch Trubisky the MVP. Or they were riding the Minnesota Vikings. Packers were the third-best favorites in August. But ESPN simulated the season in early September 2019 had the Packers going 13-3 and being the best team in the NFC. They were almost right. But no one believed it. Now, the 2020 prediction models have Green Bay as a .500 team and missing the playoffs for three in the last four years. So should we believe that?
Prediction models are fun. They’re great content. ESPN has a daily NFL show. Therefore, they need content, and they have an analytical model that they can run all sorts of numbers. This is not dismissing analytics, rather, saying there is a reason why this article is out there. Pro Football Focus has a great amount of content as well from an analytical standpoint, but it’s not gospel. Same goes for Warren Sharp and Evan Silva, even though, they’re the cool guys of NFL Twitter. It is a good gut check to know how analytic models see this season turning out.
Should the Packers expect some sort of regression? Absolutely. There are not many teams that go 13-3 in two consecutive years or even 12-4. Packers fans should likely expect a 10-6 or 11-5 season without even looking at the schedule. That is a natural regression. The model that ESPN used is an extreme version of what regression could look like for the 2020 Packers season. Given their NFL Draft and the lack of free-agent wide receiver, there is a built-in assumption that Green Bay will be closer to this model then being 12-4 again.
I have a great deal of confidence in the team next year. Year 2 of Matt LaFleur’s system is going to do wonders for Aaron Rodgers and the team. Year 2 of Za’Darius and Preston Smith is a bigger deal than people are talking about. Packers kept nearly all of their starters from last year with a 13-3 team. How the hell does that result in 8-8 the following year? We shall see in September.