FanPost

Why are division games tougher than other games?

People like to say that division games are closer than other games because the two teams know each other pretty well. While this is true, there is something else to consider. So consider this: every year, the teams within their division play other teams within their division, twice. Wouldn't you think teams would want to be able to win against their rivals because they play each other twice? Add in that the division winner automatically gets in the playoffs, and you have strong incentives for winning within your division.

So what does this mean? Teams are built to win against other teams from the division. Let's take a look at the Chicago Bears, starting with the pre-Lovie era and moving into the Lovie era.

It all started with Brett Favre in 1992, that's when we got him, so let's take a look at his stats (in Bears games) in the pre-Lovie era. The numbers you see are from the 2 games he played against them each season.

Pre Lovie

Year

Att

Comp

%

Avg

TD

INT

Sack

1992

61

36

59.0

6.9

2

1

5

1993

78

51

65.4

6.9

3

4

3

1994

46

25

54.3

7.2

4

1

2

As you can see, Favre's numbers weren't that great through the first four games. This is probably because neither team is very familiar with the other. However, in Favre's 5th and 6th games against the Bears he was much improved in TD:INT, though his completion % left a little to be desired.

1995

70

46

65.7

9.3

8

1

5

1996

54

37

68.5

8.8

5

1

4

1997

57

34

59.6

7.1

5

2

2

These were Favre's prime years against the Bears; he had better %, Avg, and great TD to INT ratios. It appears as if the Packers have figured out how to play and defeat the Bears. These Packers teams were loaded with talent across the board, so it comes as no surprise that Favre did well too.

1998

64

42

65.6

6.9

3

4

3

1999

64

44

68.8

6.6

2

3

5

2000

79

50

63.3

7.1

4

1

2

Now it looks as if the Bears are figuring out how to play the Packers, as Favre's Avg and TD:INT worsen. It should also be noted that in 2000 Ahman Green came to the Packers. He didn't put up numbers because his amount of carries was pretty low across the two games he played in, but he did have a 3.9 YPC and 2 TDs.

2001

59

34

57.6

8.1

3

2

3

2002

75

46

61.3

7.7

5

1

4

2003

62

43

69.4

6.3

4

2

0

This is it, the last trio of years before Lovie. Favre rebounds from his last trio, his accuracy takes a hit, but his Avg and TD:INT ratio generally improve. Ahman Green rushed for 218 on 47 carries and had 1 TD in 2001, in 2002 he rushed for 185 on 39 carries but had no TDs, however, he did break a 43 yard run. In 2003 Green ran 256 on 49, with 3 TDs and a long of 60. It can be said that Favre's stats improved with the help of Green's rushing attack.

At this point, the Bears are tired of losing to Favre's Packers. Favre lead the Packers to 20 wins and 3 losses pre-Lovie! The Bears bring in Lovie Smith and his Tampa Two defense, which is the perfect defense against a QB like Favre in my opinion. Let's take a look at the stats of Favre.

2004

55

33

60

8.1

3

2

6

2005

109

61

56

5.4

0

6

4

2006

71

36

50.7

6.4

1

3

5

2007

72

46

63.9

6.6

1

4

2

Who saw that coming? At first, Favre does OK against the Lovie Bears and the teams split their 2 games. Then comes Bear dominance, the Bears went 5-1 against Favre after those first 2 games under Lovie. The Tampa Two is predicated on the opposing offense making mistakes by extending drives. Giving up the small yards here or there, forcing the opposing offense to dink and dunk their way down the field, that is not Favre's style and it shows. Lovie's number one goal was to beat the Packers, he succeeded. It also didn't help that Ahman Green only played in half of those games. Favre retires, then unretires, then retires again, then unretires one more time. Can you say waffler?

A young man by the name of Aaron Rodgers takes over the QB spot for the Packers, you may have heard of him... Let's take a look at Mr. Rodgers stats through last year.

2008

69

47

68.1

7.1

4

2

0

2009

52

33

63.5

7

1

0

7

2010*

73

53

72.6

7.5

2

2

2

2011

67

49

73.1

8.7

8

1

2

*does not include playoff game, here it is

2010

30

17

56.66

8.1

0 (1 rush)

2

1

As you can see, Rodgers fares better against Lovie's Tampa 2 because he is willing to take what the defense gives him as noted by his high accuracy and average yards per completion. How fun was that 2011 season? Always nice watching your rival get eviscerated by your QB right?

In conclusion, Lovie Smith's Bears were built to shut down Brett Favre. Once Rodgers came onto the scene Lovie's Bears weren't as effective, as Rodgers' Packers are 8-2 (including playoffs and this year) against the Bears. What does this mean for Lovie Smith? Well, if he doesn't figure out how to beat the Packers lead by Rodgers, his job is in jeopardy. If there is one thing the Bears FO (fans too) wants, it is to beat the Packers and if Lovie can't do that, then he is as expendable as the coaches he replaced.

FanPosts are designed to be used to start a conversation on a specific topic, not unlike a front page story. They have a 75-word minimum: If you don't have much to say on a topic, consider using a FanShot.

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