In head coach Matt LeFleur’s first season, he led the team to 13 wins and an appearance in the NFC Championship game. After getting throttled by the San Francisco 49ers for the second time in the championship round, many think this team was a paper tiger. Are those sentiments true? Or can LeFleur and quarterback Aaron Rodgers prove the doubters wrong? What will that mean for the Green Bay Packers 2020 win total? Let’s dive in and find out.
Green Bay Packers Offseason Breakdown
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The Packers signed offensive tackle Ricky Wagner to fill the void left by OT Bryan Bulaga, whom Pro Football Network has ranked as the 20th best offensive tackle in the league. Wagner started 12 games for the Lions in 2019, the lowest mark since his rookie season in 2013.
The only other veteran addition made was signing wide receiver Devin Funchess from the Indianapolis Colts. Funchess had a forgettable 2019, starting just one game due to injuries. Don’t expect much from the sixth year WR.
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Bulaga was the most significant loss of the offseason. He and David Bakhtiari formed one of, if not the best tackle tandem in the league. All of the Packers offseason moves point to them being more run-heavy this year, so perhaps they didn’t deem it necessary to keep a tackle whose strength lies in pass blocking.
Blake Martinez was the second most significant loss. He played 99% of the snaps and contributed 155 combined tackles in 2019, according to Pro Football Reference. His coverage abilities left room for improvement, however. I don’t think the Packers will regret letting Martinez go too much.
Significant Coaching Changes
The Packers have a new passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach in Luke Getsy. Jerry Gray will take over as the new secondary coach. Other than those changes, they retain their head coach, defensive coordinator, and special teams coordinator. Continuity will be vital considering the unique offseason the NFL has had.
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The most significant change on the defensive side of the ball will be the loss of Martinez. While he left some room for improvement in the coverage department, Martinez was the one who relayed the plays into the huddle from the sideline.
Christian Kirksey (Cleveland Browns) was signed via free agency to take over Martinez’s role presumably. Kirksey played for defensive coordinator Mike Pettine in Cleveland in 2014-2015. He is a year older than Martinez but graded out as a better athlete coming out of college, according to Kent Platte’s Relative Athletic Score (RAS).
The talent is comparable, so it makes sense for the Packers to take on Kirksey at a discount. However, Kirksey hasn’t started a full season since 2017. Rookie fifth-round draft pick Kamal Martin might be able to earn his way onto the field if Kirksey disappoints early on.
The Packers replaced Bulaga with Wagner but didn’t do much else in the way of adding new starters. It appears they want to be more run-heavy with the addition of bruising back AJ Dillon and drafting a TE in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft when they already have Jace Sternberger. Wagner will have big shoes to fill in joining an offensive line, which ranked fifth in adjusted line yards.
According to Packers Wire, Green Bay wishes to use “more tempo” in 2020. They claim they didn’t need to hurry it up much in 2019, but that contradicts their standing in situation neutral (score within eight points) seconds per play. The Packers were the 11th slowest team in that regard, according to Sharp Football Stats. Their free agency acquisitions and early-round draft picks don’t reflect this change in philosophy either.
While it won’t be in 2020, big changes are coming soon to Green Bay. They told us as much by trading up to select QB Jordan Love in the first round. We’ll get to that later, though.
Green Bay Packers Strength of Schedule Breakdown
According to Sharp Football Stats, the Packers enter the season with the 15th softest NFL schedule. At first glance, it shouldn’t pose much of a threat to the Packers going over their 2020 win total. But a second look shows a much more difficult schedule than is presented.
Aside from their six NFC North games, the Packers will play the NFC South, AFC South, 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles.
The first four weeks of the regular season are sneakily difficult. I expect the Lions to outperform expectations this season, and the Packers face them at home after a season-opening trip to the Minnesota Vikings. Following the Lions, the game is a trip to the Super Dome on Sunday Night Football. New Orleans will be coming off of short rest after a Monday night game at the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Packers close out Week 4 with a Monday Night affair against the Atlanta Falcons. A rocky start is possible and could spell trouble for over bettors in regards to their 2020 win total.
The Packers get the “luxury” of an early bye (Week 5) in 2020. They begin a back to back road trip versus Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and end it facing the Deshaun Watson led Houston Texans. Tampa Bay coming off a mini bye after a Thursday night game the week prior negates their bye week rest advantage.
The Packers will face the Vikings (who will be coming off of their bye week) for the second and final time in Week 8. Afterward is a road trip to the defending NFC Champion 49ers on a Thursday night. Fortunately for Green Bay, they get San Francisco in a tight scheduling spot as they will be coming off a back to back road trip against the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.
If you’re betting the under on the Packers 2020 win total, you have to like what the second quarter of the season brings for Green Bay.
The opponents soften up a little bit at this juncture, but the scheduling spots are rough. The Packers play host to the Jacksonville Jaguars then travels to the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts will be coming off a mini bye having played on Thursday night the week prior. Following the Colts games, the Packers will host the Bears on Sunday Night Football, who will be coming off their bye week as well.
Thankfully, Green Bay gets a bit of a scheduling break in hosting the Eagles who have a Monday Night game the preceding week.
The final four weeks of the season are pretty marginal, and could be the break bettors look for if they bet the over on the Packers 2020 win total. They play at the Lions, host the Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans (SNF) and end the 2020 NFL season with a trip to Chicago. The only scheduling “quirk” is modified short rest in Week 17 after hosting the Titans on SNF in Week 16.
Back to back road trips: 1- Weeks 6 and 7 (Tampa Bay/Houston)
Facing an opponent who will have extra rest: 5- Week 6 at Tampa Bay, Week 8 vs. Minnesota, Week 11 at Indianapolis, Week 12 vs. Chicago, Week 17 at Chicago
Facing an opponent when the Packers will have extra rest: 3- Week 3 at New Orleans, Week 6 at Tampa Bay, Week 13 vs. Philadelphia
No one outperformed their Football Outsiders Pythagorean win total by more wins than the 2019 Green Bay Packers. Despite finishing with 13 wins, Pythagorean wins had them as just a 9.8 win team. Their record in one-score games (8-1) isn’t sustainable in any way, while their yards per play differential of (-0.3) suggests they were (-1.5) points worse than an average team on a neutral field.
Green Bay was not a 13 win team. Despite winning 13 games in 2019, the Packers may have told us they don’t believe they’re as close as their NFC Championship appearance would suggest. The advanced metrics agree with them. Drafting Love in round one speaks volumes to what they think about the team, and more importantly, Rodgers.
Rodgers has not been an elite QB for a few years now. Most people still view him as one of the game’s best, but that just isn’t true. From 2016-2019 he averaged 7.2 yards per attempt with a 5.3% touchdown rate. Compare that to his four-year average from 2011-2015 (8.1/7%), and we can see in black and white, he isn’t the QB he used to be. PFN’s OSM also illustrates his decline.
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Rodgers isn’t an upper-echelon QB anymore, and the Packers know it.
I’m going to lean under their projected win total. Even though their regression metrics suggest the under is the clear play, those metrics are reflected in the number. The Packers 2020 win total is set at 9, juiced to the under in several books. You can get (-105) on the under at BetOnline, but most other books aren’t so generous.
I would instead take the under on an alternate win total. FanDuel is one of a few books which currently offers an alternative win total. The under nine is juiced at (-145). That means the Packers have to go under nine wins more than 59.18% of the time for you to be profitable.
However, they are also offering under 8.5 at +120 (45.45% implied probability) and under 7.5 at +210 (32.36%). Is 1/2 a win worth 14% in implied probability? Are 1.5 wins worth 27% implied probability? No.
If you have access to a book that offers alternate win totals, I like taking the under for the Packers. I wouldn’t go down to 7.5, as they are still a solid team, but I think there’s a greater than 45% chance they finish as an 8-8 team.
I’m less excited to take the “No” on their “make the playoffs prop” due to the seventh playoff team.
Green Bay Packers 2020 win total 9: No bet
Green Bay Packers Alternate Win Total: Under 8.5 (+120) 1U