The 2015 NFL regular season has come to a close. Let’s take a look at how the North teams did statistically when compared to 75% of the season and the half way point.
PPG Offense (bold final stats)
Green Bay 25.0 (10th) at mid-way point; 12 game 24.1 (12th)
GB Year End: 23.0 PPG (15th)
Minnesota 21.0 (23rd) at mid-way point, 12 game mark 19.8 (28th)
Min Year End: 22.8 PPG (16th)
Chicago 20.3 (25th) at mid-way point, 12 game 20.9 (24th)
Chi Year End: 20.9 PPG (23rd)
Detroit 18.6 (31st) at mid-way point, 12 game 21.1 (22nd)
Det Year End: 22.4 PPG (18th)
Green Bay has been struggling offensively in the last half of the season. Green Bay has had run game issues and Aaron Rodgers has been off in a few games. Green Bay has had some major offensive line injuries which worsened in the last quarter of the season.
The Vikings have a good rush offense with Peterson but Bridgewater is not protected and struggling in year 2. The Vikings had a nice last quarter of the season though and scored a defensive TD to win the NFC North 20-13 at Lambeau.
The Bears offense regressed with some major injuries to Forte, Bennett and Jeffrey. Cutler had 3 interceptions in the final game of the season. The Bears may lose OC Adam Gase despite the 23rd ranking.
The Lions were a mess due to poor run and pass blocking in the first eight games. However, Cooter and Stafford have saved the day with the Lions offense. The Lions offense was good for many of the final 8 games despite some shoddy run game and protection at times. The Lions have turned the ball over only four times in the last 8 games and not surprisingly boast a 6-2 record in those games. Stafford was elite with 19 TDs and 2 interceptions in the final 8. The Cooter is strong.
Quarterback Play (bold is final)
Mid-way Stafford 84.1 rating (20th) 193/299 64.5% 2,083 yards 6.97 YPA 13 TDs 11 ints
12 game Stafford 91.1 rating (18th) 228/445 64.9% 3,164 yards, 7.1 YPA 22 TDs and 12 ints
Final: Stafford 97 QB rating (9th) 398/592 67.2% 4,262, 7.20 YPA 32 TDs and 13 ints
Mid Way: Rodgers 108.2 rating (5th), 163/252 64.7% 1,937 yards 7.69 YPA 19 TDs 3 ints
12 games: Rodgers 97.3 rating (8th), 260/426 61.0%, 2157 yards, 6.94 YPA 26 TDs and 5 ints
Final: Rodgers 92.7 rating (15th), 347/572 60.7%, 3,821 yards, 6.68 YPA 31 TDs and 8 ints
Cutler 89.6 rating (17th) 155/247 62.8% 1,787 yards 7.24 YPA 10 TDs 5 ints
Cutler 90.1 rating (19th) 229/365 62.7% 2,712, 7.43 YPA 14 TDs and 7 ints
Final Cutler: 92.3 QB rating (16th) 311/483 64.4% 3,659, 7.58 YPA and 21 TDs and 11 ints
Bridgewater 83.4 rating (22nd) 149/232 64.2% 1,670 yards 7.20 YPA 6 TDs and 6 ints
Bridgewater 83.3 rating (28th) 225/347 64.8% 2,398 yards, 6.91 YPA 8 TDS and 8 ints
Bridgewater: 88.7 QB rating (22nd) 292/447 65.3% 3,231, 7.23 YPA 14 TDs and 9 ints
Stafford has been amazing since the bye. He has improved his completion percentage, YPA, TDS and only has two interceptions. This is what the Lions envisioned with Stafford in this offense. It took a Cooter to get us there. Stafford had 19 TDs and 2 interceptions and a top 9 QB rating. Stafford broke the Lions record for best completion percentage. Despite, a rough first half, it was a great season for Stafford. An 84 QB rating to 97 QB rating is a huge jump in 8 games.
Rodgers is still a top QB in the league but has struggled the last half of the season. His weapon, run game problems and protection have been an issues and his QB rating has dropped like a rock since the first half of the season. A 108 QB rating to 92 QB rating is a big drop down.
Cutler has stayed the course at around 90-92 QB rating but it hasn’t been enough for the Bears. They need one or two more plays from Cutler each game and had some major injuries in the last quarter of the season.
Bridgewater is a game manager and without a run game or protection or defense, he struggles and the Vikings typically lose. However, they managed to have enough strong defensive performances (top 5 defense ranking) and Peterson plays to win the NFC North.
GB 4.4 YPC 11th at midway point, 4.3 YPC (9th) through 12 games, 4.2 YPC (11th)
Min 4.4 YPC 11th at midway point: 4.7 YPC (4th) through 12 games, 4.7 YPC (4th)
Chi 3.9 YPC at midway point, 3.8 YPC (25th) through 12 games, 3.9 YPC (20th)
Detroit 3.7 YPC 27th at midway point, 3.5 YPC (30th), 3.8 YPC (26th)
Minnesota has a top 5 rushing offense. Peterson has only struggled in a few games but was the rushing title champion. The Packers have dropped some with Lacy’s injury and oline issues but have a solid run game per carry.
Chicago is struggling and is below average in running the ball but Forte is a good back. However, Forte enters free agency this offseason.
Detroit has shown a few more flashes in the run game in the second half of the season but still have a very poor YPC. Bell was awful after three surgeries the previous offseason but Abdullah is finally showing potential and had 4.2 YPC for his rookie season.
Sacks and QB Hits Allowed (bold final)
19 sacks and 44 hits for Rodgers, 29 sacks and 74 hits, 47 sacks and 104 hits
22 sacks and 60 hits for Stafford, 31 sacks and 75 hits, 44 sacks and 102 hits
14 sacks and 40 hits for Cutler/Clausen, 20 sacks and 57 hits, 33 sacks and 75 hits
21 sacks and 45 hits for Bridgewater, 35 sacks and 74 hits, 45 sacks and 96 hits
The Vikings have the worst offensive line with low attempts but high sacks and hits. Detroit’s offensive line has been improved since the mid-way point (22 sacks and 42 hits) but still give up a good number of sacks and QB hits (10th worst). Rodgers was killed in the second half of the season to the tune of 28 sacks and 60 QB hits. Cutler is solidly protected but with room for improvement from the Bears offensive line.
Green Bay 6 to 9 to 17
Minnesota 9 to 12 to 17
Chicago 10 to 15 to 21
Detroit 20 to 22 to 24
Detroit has more turnovers than every other North team and not surprisingly, Detroit started 1-7 record due to 20 turnovers in 8 games. The turnovers hurt Detroit’s defense and take away scoring chances. Detroit has improved drastically under Cooter with only 4 turnovers in the final 8 games. The 6-2 Detroit record is not surprising with little turnovers. A pick 6 and a fumble loss for a short field for Green Bay contributed to the two losses in the second half of the season for Detroit.
Green Bay and the Vikings only had 8 and 5 turnovers respectively in the last quarter of the season. They were good in not turning it over this season and finished with good records. Chicago had 6 turnovers in the last quarter of the season due to 3 Cutler ints in the final loss to Detroit.
Overall, Detroit finished below average despite the terrible start, Chicago was average and Minnesota and Green Bay were good at protecting the football.
Minnesota 17.5 PPG (2nd), 19.3 PPG (4th), 18.9 PPG (5th)
Green Bay 20.9 PPG (12th), 19.8 PPG (6th), 20.2 PPG (12th)
Chicago 27.6 PPG (27th), 24.2 PPG (18th), 24.8 PPG (20th)
Detroit 30.6 PPG (32nd), 26.3 PPG (28th), 25.0 PPG (23rd)
The Vikings have a top 5 defense in the league. They are young and should be good in years to come. Only injuries derailed them slightly so depth is the only Vikings’ issue.
Green Bay had pretty good defensive health all year despite Sam Shields late in the season and Sam Barrington (all year) injuries. If your name was Sam, you got hurt for Green Bay. Green Bay has an excellent pass defense but poor run defense. Green Bay struggled down the stretch against Arizona which caused their PPG to rise.
Lions 4.4 YPC (22nd), 3.9 YPC, 4.2 YPC
Vikings 4.4 YPC (22nd), 4.4 YPC, 4.3 YPC
Green Bay 4.5 YPC (25th), 4.2 YPC, 4.5 YPC
Chicago 4.6 YPC (27th), 4.8 YPC, 4.5 YPC
Detroit had success for most of the season stopping the run. However, they struggled in 3 of the final four games creating a below average run defense on paper. The Vikings, Packers and Bears struggled all year in stopping the run.
Green Bay 79 rating (5th) 57.7%, 7.6 YPA 10 TDs and 10 ints
Green Bay 84.2 rating (10th), 59.8 %, 7.3 YPA 16 TDs and 11 ints
Green Bay 80.1 rating (7th), 58.3%, 7.1 YPA 20 TDs and 16 ints
Minnesota 82.7 rating (13th), 62.5%, 6.9 YPA 9 TDs and 4 ints
Minnesota 90 QB rating (15th), 63.3%, 7.1 YPA 17 TDs and 8 ints
Minnesota 90 QB rating (15th), 64.0%, 7.2 YPA 24 TDs and 13 ints
Chicago 101. Rating (27th), 63.4%, 7.3 YPA, 17 TDs and 4 ints
Chicago 92.7 rating (19th), 60.6% 6.9 YPA, 21 TDs and 6 ints
Chicago 99.3 rating (26th), 62.9%, 7.5 YPA, 31 TDs and 8 ints
Detroit 111 rating (31st), 73.1%, 8.7 YPA, 14 TDs and 4 ints
Detroit 103.1, 68.6%, 7.9 YPA, 20 TDs and 5 ints
Detroit 100.9 rating, 68.2%, 7.7 YPA, 27 TDs and 9 ints
Green Bay was excellent in pass defense despite the Sam Shields injury. Randall, Rollins, Dix, Hyde and Hayward can all play. Burnett is solid at strong safety.
The Vikings are average in pass defense on paper but much better when Harrison Smith is healthy.
The Bears faded down the stretch in pass defense but had slight improvement compared to previous years. The Bears secondary can improve with young players and more pass rush.
The Lions improved in the second half of the season after a dismal first half. Nevin Lawson, Quandre Diggs and Isa Abdul Quddus helped Detroit and give the Lions some nice young talent. Darius Slay was a shut-down corner for most of the season and Glover Quin is a good free safety notching 4 interceptions. Detroit hopes to keep Teryl Austin at DC for next season but he has several head coaching interviews.
Green Bay 12 (10 ints, 2 fumbles), 15 (11 ints and 4 fumbles
Final: Green Bay 22 (16 ints and 6 fumbles)
Detroit 11 (7 fumbles, 4 ints), 13 (5 ints and 8 fumbles)
Final: Detroit 18 (9 ints and 9 fumbles)
Minnesota 9 (4 ints, 5 fumbles), 15 (8 ints and 7 fumbles)
Final: Minnesota 22 turnovers (13 ints and 9 fumbles)
Chicago 9 (4 ints, 5 fumbles), 13 (6 ints and 7 fumbles)
Final Chicago: 17 (8 ints and 9 fumbles)
All the North teams force below average amount of turnovers. Green Bay is good generating interceptions but lacked in fumbles recovered. Minnesota had a decent amount of interceptions with 5 in the last 4 games and was good with recovering fumbles. The Bears forced the least amount of turnovers with the least interceptions in the North and 9 fumbles recovered.
Vikings 6-2, 8-4, 11-5
Green Bay 6-2, 8-4, 10-6
Detroit 1-7, 4-8, 7-9
Chicago 3-5, 5-7, 6-10
The Vikings 6-2 start was strong with Peterson, efficient Bridgewater and good defense. The Vikings have gone 5-3 in the last half despite defensive injuries and very poor protection. If Peterson doesn’t have a good game, they lose typically unless the defense plays extremely well like in Week 17 (20-13 Vikings win at Lambeau). The Vikings will host Seattle in the playoffs. Seattle crushed Minnesota in Minneapolis in the regular season. The Vikings prize of winning the North is a very tough home playoff game against a hot team.
Green Bay has had trouble with tough teams on the road despite a 6-0 start. The Packers went 4-4 in the last four games beating the Vikings on the road but losing to Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota at home. This is the first time that happened since 1991.
Green Bay got crushed by the Cardinals in Arizona but beat Oakland (away) and Dallas. Green Bay got an extremely lucky win on a poorly defended hail-Mary and phantom face mask call at Detroit. Green Bay would have earned the 6th seed at 9-7 but instead get the 5th seed at 10-6. Green Bay will travel to Washington to play the 9-7 Redskins in the wild card round.
The Bears and Lions both played a tough first half schedule. The Bears were able to beat the AFC West teams (Raiders, Chiefs, and Chargers) though for 3 wins but lost to the Lions in Detroit, at Seattle without Cutler, home to the Cardinals, home to Green Bay. Chicago has gone 2-2 since the mid-way point beating the Packers in Lambeau but losing to the lowly 49ers at home. Chicago crushed the Rams but lost a close game at home to the Broncos. Chicago finished 1-3 at the end of the season losing at Minnesota, home versus Washington and home to Detroit. Their lone win was beating their former coach (Lovie Smith) at Tampa Bay. Chicago went 1-7 at home this year.
The Lions were only able to beat the Bears and get screwed by the refs in Seattle in the first half of the season. Detroit blew an 18 point lead at San Diego and lost to Peyton Manning jump balls and turnovers on Sunday Night in Week 3. Detroit was embarrassed by the Cardinals and Chiefs and swept by the Vikings leading to offensive coaches and the GM/President getting fired during the bye.
Since that debacle, Detroit has rebounded nicely with 3 straight wins and a true win against Green Bay (despite a loss). Detroit lost due to a big day by Todd Gurley and a pick 6 by Stafford to the Rams (21-14). A terrible chop block call took away a TD for Detroit. Detroit rallied and finished 3-1 beating the Saints (away), 49ers and Bears (away) in the final 3 game for 7-9 record.
Detroit was truly the 5th seed based on the Seattle and Green Bay referee debacles. Detroit would be the 5th seed and Green Bay the 6th seed at 9-7 with Seattle not in the playoffs. I’m writing a letter to Roger Goodell about this travesty.