In a recent article on ESPN, Seth Walder — who works for the company’s analytics department — gave us some 2023 NFL season predictions using ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) rating and projection model. According to Walder, FPI is used to “simulate the season thousands of times” and is “informed by factors such as travel, rest differential and changes at starting quarterback.” Thankfully, the Green Bay Packers will be much better rested this season than during their hell stretch of games in 2022.
In terms of the power rankings, the Packers were listed as the 25th team in the NFL going into 2023 with a rating of -2.8, which means that Green Bay would be around three-point underdogs to an average team on a neutral field. That ranks the worst in the NFC North, just behind the Chicago Bears (-2.4 rating), and ahead of just four other teams in the NFC, three of which are in the NFC South: the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals.
Per FPI, the three tightest division races in the league this year will be the NFC South, NFC North and AFC East. These numbers claim that the Packers have about a 12 percent chance to win the NFC North this year, with the favorites behind the Detroit Lions (43 percent), followed by the Minnesota Vikings (29 percent) and Bears (16 percent.)
What’s interesting about ESPN’s projected 2024 draft order simulations is that two of the four NFC teams that the Packers are ranked ahead of, the Falcons and Panthers, are actually expected to finish better than Green Bay due to the NFC South being so weak. The Panthers’ first-round pick is held by the Bears, for what it’s worth, because Carolina traded up to the first overall pick in the 2023 draft to select Alabama quarterback Bryce Young.
The Packers have a five percent chance of picking first overall with their original first-round pick, per ESPN’s FPI simulations. Only three teams have a higher chance of being handed the top pick, according to ESPN: the Arizona Cardinals (who also hold the Houston Texans’ first-round pick), the Buccaneers and the Indianapolis Colts. These simulations claim that Green Bay, on average, will be picking around seventh overall in the 2024 draft. In 49 percent of simulations, the Packers end up selecting in the top 10 picks.
It’s still very early, but as we’ve mentioned at Acme Packing Company in previous articles, all eyes will be on the quarterback position for Green Bay in 2023. This upcoming draft class has two true blue-chip quarterback prospects in USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye. Meanwhile, the Packers are armed with (likely) two first-round picks following the Aaron Rodgers trade and chose to not hand new starting quarterback Jordan Love a fully-guaranteed fifth-year option for the 2024 season.
If things start to turn south next year, don’t be surprised if the team decides to take a crack at a quarterback in the draft. At least according to these numbers, the Packers will be in a good position to take one, if they fall short of their average outcome.