Each Tuesday, WhatIfSports.com's NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win%), average score and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your new found NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.
The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team's roster, depth chart and statistically based player ranking. Roster modifications have been made for injuries and suspensions and those players are not part of their team's game simulation.
To account for injuries and roster moves announced late in the week, we will be re-simulating some games on Thursdays throughout the 2012 NFL season.
Check out our 2012 NFL Season-to-Date page to follow our accuracy week-to-week and find Locks and Upsets of the Week.
Game of the Week: Saints at Packers
In the words of the immortal Yogi Berra, "It's getting late early."
The Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints have been postseason fixtures this decade, with the franchises capturing two of the last three Lombardi trophies. The current campaign, however, has seen inauspicious starts for both squads, as the Saints stumble into Wisconsin winless, while the Cheeseheads find themselves at 1-2. That certain, ahem, "extraneous circumstances" surround each team's record makes the matchup that much more intriguing and serves as our WhatIfSports.com Game of the Week.
Granted, the Packers should realistically roll into this foray with a 2-1 mark, yet as Bill Parcells once remarked, "You are what your record says you are." Zebra errors aside, Green Bay has other pressing matters at hand. After averaging a league-high 35 points per game in 2011, the Pack has stalled on the offensive end, posting a meager 19 points per contest, tied for 26th in the NFL. Facing three of the conference's toughest defenses in San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle hasn't facilitated the fireworks, but given Green Bay's depth and explosiveness, it's hard to fathom even the most formidable of resistances slowing down Aaron Rodgers and company.
Luckily for Mike McCarthy, his offense receives a bit of a respite this week, as New Orleans enters with the worst-ranked defense in the league, surrendering 477.3 yards per game.
While the air attack has been iced on the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau thus far, the Green and Gold defense has proven stout through three weeks, suffocating adversaries to just 261 yards per game, ranking third-best in the league.
Leading this revival has been linebacker Clay Matthews, who has already racked up six sacks in the young season, matching his output from 2011. After getting caught up in the hoopla that followed the Packers' Super Bowl conquest, Matthews seems rededicated to his craft for 2012. Throw in the lingering anger the Packers will harbor from Monday night's debacle, and the Green Bay defense will not be a congenial crew on Sunday.
The Saints can second this animosity, as the organization is reeling from the offseason sanctions levied at the team for a bounty scandal. Without head coach Sean Payton at the helm, New Orleans has sputtered, losing their first three games to less-than-arduous opponents. As aforementioned, the catalyst for this catastrophe has been the defense, giving up a conference-worst 34 points per game.
Gregg Williams might be ostracized by the football community for his heinous part in placing hits on opposing players, yet new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has not replicated his predecessor's success on that side of the ball.
Though the horizon might look bleak for the Saints, hope is never lost when Drew Brees is under center. The perennial Pro Bowler has tossed a touchdown pass in 46 consecutive games, one off Johnny Unitas' record. And though NOLA has struggled with turnovers, the team endures as one of the premier high-octane offenses, evidenced by the unit's 27.7 points-per-game figure. If the team can improve on their conversion of third downs, which sits at a pedestrian 38 percent, the train should find its way back on the track for the Saints.
So who wins this clash of clubs desperately seeking a win? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com simulation engine, the Packers win 75.5 percent of the time by an average margin of 31-22. For the rest of this week's predictions, check below:
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