Why Will Packers Beat Niners; Win Super Bowl?

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers said this statistic is "the most significant" measuring stick in separating the championship contenders from the pretenders. And no, it's not turnovers. Get the numbers and historical significance in this must-read story.

With Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers have the best passer rating in the NFL.

On the other side of the ball, Dom Capers' defense has allowed the fourth-best passer rating in the NFL.

Do the math, and the Packers have the best passer rating differential in the NFL.

Think that's just another stat that has little to no bearing on the outcome of a game or the success of a season?

Think again.

"I'll just say this, and this goes way back," Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers told Packer Report on Thursday, two days before a heavyweight showdown at San Francisco in the NFC divisional playoffs. "I've done it since I took my first head coaching job. A lot of statistics don't have a lot of influence on whether you win or lose a game. The one that I felt is the most significant is the passer rating differential."

History backs up that contention. According to Cold Hard Football Facts' research, the No. 1 team in passer rating differential has won 26 of 72 championships since 1940. Teams that finished in the top three have won 44 of 72. Teams that finished in the top 10 have claimed 69 of 72 championships.

In 2010, the Packers went on one of the more remarkable postseason rolls in NFL history, earning three road victories before beating Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. Well, maybe it wasn't so remarkable. Because of Rodgers' excellence and Capers' defense leading the league in passer rating allowed, Green Bay finished No. 1 in passer rating differential.

In Vince Lombardi's five championship seasons, the Packers finished first in passer rating differential in 1961, 1962, 1965 and 1966, according to Kerry Byrne, CHFF's publisher. In 1967, the Packers finished third but had total air supremacy during the three playoff games, he pointed out.

Capers recalled 1996, when he was head coach at Carolina. The Panthers played the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. The Packers, who led the NFL in passer rating on both sides of the ball, rolled 30-13 before knocking off New England in the Super Bowl.

"It's a common-sense principle," Capers said. "It's a quarterback-driven league so if you have a quarterback like Aaron and if you have a defense that's tough on a quarterback, that's a pretty good combination to have. How I got started on this, building two expansion teams, what's the formula to get to where everybody wants to go? You've got to have a quarterback and you have to have a defense that's hard on a quarterback."

The Packers have that with Rodgers, who is the NFL's career leader in regular-season and postseason passer rating. (Bart Starr, for the record, is second in postseason passer rating.) Whether it's tight coverage or a barrage of interceptions or some combination of the two, Capers has fielded outstanding pass defenses in terms of passer rating. Green Bay was fourth this year, ninth in 2011, first in 2010 and fourth in 2009.

This season, according to CHFF, teams that post the best passer rating in a game are 222-37, including 4-0 in last weekend's playoff games. That's 85.7 percent accuracy.

The stat is not foolproof. The Packers were No. 1 last season but got knocked off by the Giants in the divisional playoffs, in part because their defensive passer rating was built on interceptions and didn't translate against a strong quarterback like Eli Manning.

The Packers, who were plus-31.5 (108.3 on offense, 76.8 on defense), face a big challenge on Saturday night. The 49ers finished fourth at plus-23.2 (101.2 vs. 78.0). And if Green Bay advances, it would face Seattle (second at plus-28.8; 100.6 vs. 71.8) or Atlanta (fifth at plus-22.0; 99.1 vs. 77.1).


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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