Packer Report: How much attention do you pay to opponent quarterback rating?
Whitt: "I put more stock in that number than probably anything else."
Packer Report: You guys are at 80.6, which ...
Whitt: Which is not very good compared to what we usually do. We're usually around 68.
Packer Report: The reason why I ask, historically, if you take your quarterback's rating and your defense's rating ...
"t's usually going to be a Super Bowl win," Whit, making his interception, said. "If you look at the past couple years, we were in the top two or maybe No. 1 last year and we won the Super Bowl. Look at New Orleans the year before. You go over past 10 years, the guys that are top three in the differential, they have a great chance of winning the Super Bowl. If you have a good quarterback and you can disrupt their quarterback, that's what it's all about. We've done a decent job of doing that."
The researchers at Cold, Hard Football Facts use passer rating differential as one of its "quality stats." Take your quarterback's passer rating, subtract the passer rating allowed by your defense and you've got passer rating differential.
Historically, that figure is about as good as any in predicting a champion come playoff time. According to CHFF, 69 of the 71 NFL champions since 1940 posted a positive passer rating differential, 56 of them were at least plus-10, 46 were at least plus-20 and 30 were at least plus-30. Of those 71 champions, 26 finished No. 1 in the league in passer rating differential and 14 finished No. 2 — meaning 56 percent of champions finished first or second. The average ranking in passer rating differential of those champions was 3.36.
This year, the Packers' passer rating on offense was 122.6 and the rating allowed on defense was 80.6, giving Green Bay a differential of 42.0. New Orleans was a distant second at plus-24.1 (110.5 vs. 86.4) and Houston was third at plus-23.7 (92.7 vs. 69.0). All three teams are playing this weekend, not coincidentally.
The Packers led the league in 2010 at plus-31.7 and won Super Bowl XLV. The Saints led the league in 2009 at plus-37.4 and won Super Bowl XLIV. The Packers led the league in 1996 at plus-40.3 and won Super Bowl XXXI. The Packers led the league in 1966 at plus-56.0 — second-best in the NFL since 1960 — and won Super Bowl I. The Packers led the league in 1962 at plus-41.5 and won the championship.
Over the past 12 years, four Super Bowl champions finished first in passer rating differential, one finished second, two finished fourth, two finished fifth, one finished seventh and one finished ninth. The ugly duckling in that group is the 2007 Giants, who were 24th at minus-10.4. Including a stunning victory over the Packers in the NFC Championship Game, however, New York's four-game playoff run produced a passer rating differential of plus-25.3.
For all the angst over a Packers' pass defense that allowed more yards than any in NFL history, it produced a league-high 31 interceptions. Coupled with Aaron Rodgers' single-season record of 122.5, Green Bay's differential ranks 10th in the NFL since 1960. Of the top 10 from 1960 through 2010, six won championships. Of the top 25, 14 won championships. What about those 11 teams that failed to bring home the title? Three fell short to another team on that top-25 list.
"I've always been big on, if at the end, your quarterback rating (is higher) compared to your opponents' quarterback rating," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "(This year's) 80, we'd certainly like to be lower than that, but if you put that with our quarterback rating, we're plus-42, and that's normally a winning formula."
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.