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Breaking Down Brett Favre's 2009 Season

About those Green Bay Packers, from Football Outsiders:

When it comes to ratings that differ from conventional wisdom, a couple of teams really jumped out at me this week. The first is Green Bay, which has now climbed up to fourth overall...

But over the last couple weeks, without anyone looking -- probably because the opponents were Cleveland and Detroit -- Green Bay has moved into the top spot in our defensive ratings...

The Packers only have one defensive performance this year with a positive DVOA, which came against -- oh, just kill me now -- Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings.

For those unfamiliar with the DVOA ratings, a positive DVOA on defense is bad. Most of the defensive struggles in Minneapolis were due to the failed SS Derrick Martin - Starter! experiment, but Favre had a great game. Now he's coming off arguably his worst game of the season. For those wondering which game could be worse, he wasn't very good against the 49ers either (despite the last second TD pass to WR Greg Lewis). Favre's performance last week was ranked as the 17th best by Football Outsiders:

We were astounded to read after this game that the Vikings lost because of Favre's late game gaffes. Granted, it's pretty disastrous to fumble inside the ten-yard line, and our numbers account for it. But to blame Favre for Chester Taylor's drop of a screen pass that miraculously fell into Keyaron Fox's hands seems awful unfair, and it's even more bogus to blame him for failing to tackle on either of touchdown returns. Quarterbacks often get more credit and blame than they deserve, so this is nothing new, but statistics are doing a disservice to Favre here.

Before I was calling Favre a Betrayer, I was all for bringing him back to Green Bay. No matter what, he's having an outstanding season. It's even more incredible that he's doing it at age 40. After the jump is a more detailed breakdown of his 2009 season.

I don't care what his record is at Lambeau. He's never been a visiting player before. I don't even care what he's done in the past three seasons, on three different teams. The best thing to look at is what he's done this season. The following stats are from, except the Pass Defense Rating is from Football Outsiders through week 7 of this season:

Opponent QB Rating Pass Defense Rating Final
at Cleveland 95.3 26 W 34-20
at Detroit 115.3 31 W 27-13
San Francisco 78.3 13 W 27-24
Green Bay 135.3 2 W 30-23
at St. Louis 101.4 29 W 38-10
Baltimore 136.9 14 W 33-31
at Pittsburgh 76.6 18 L 17-27

At first glance, it looked like he's played great this season, at home or on the road. With the exceptions being the game in Minneapolis against the 49ers, and the game in Pittsburgh against the Steelers. Maybe those two games just offset. His two best games this season have been in the dome, against two good secondaries. Obviously he won't have any dome field advantage this Sunday.

Except for the Steelers, he's played against three of the worst defenses in the NFL. He's played well against them, but it doesn't really matter how good he was against the Browns in week 1. I haven't watched every Vikings game this season, but in week 1, he seemed to be playing it very safe with few passes downfield. That wasn't the case in the previous Packers game, and it didn't seem to be that way last week against the Steelers either. They seemed to have opened up the entire play book for him now. And the Packers and Steelers are much better teams than his other road competition this season.

Let's throw RB Adrian Peterson into the discussion. Last week against the Steelers' solid run defense, he had 3.8 yards/carry, his 2nd lowest average of the season. He was much worse against the Packers, when he averaged only 2.2 yards/carry in their first meeting. Against the Steelers, Peterson had 18 carries, and Favre had 50 pass attempts. I would expect they'll do something similar this week and throw the ball more than they run it.

In that case, the Steelers game might be a good predictor of next Sunday's game. Although it was a near 50/50 split back on October 5th, 32 pass attempts vs. 30 rushing attempts, that game plan was designed before the Packers held Peterson to 2.2 yards/carry. Also, the Vikings just can't decide to run the ball. They tried to run out the game last time, but Peterson couldn't get any yards in the 4th quarter, and the defense gave the Packers a chance at making a comeback. 

So was the Vikings game a fluke for the Packers pass defense? Or will the Vikings continue to throw the ball against the Packers better than they did last week against the Steelers?