At the midway point of the 2012 NFL season, the Green Bay Packers have a 5-3 record. Yes, I know, the Packers should really be 6-2, but the replacement ref debacle which caused a loss in Seattle was a reality.
Before I try to prognosticate how the Packers will fare in the second half of the 2012 season, let us take a look at some factors that have contributed to the Green Bay record, so far.
First, there are the injuries. I recently wrote an article that talked about how the quality depth that Ted Thompson has accumulated has helped the Packers overcome the injury situation for the most part.
Time will tell how good this quality depth truly is.
Individually, there have been a number of bright spots.
Aaron Rodgers has thrown 21 touchdown passes, compared to just four picks for 2,165 yards, and that is good for a 107.9 quarterback rating. That quarterback rating is tops in the NFC, plus Rodgers leads all NFL quarterbacks in touchdown passes.
That being said, Rodgers has also been sacked 28 times, which is leads the NFL for individual quarterbacks.
Clay Matthews is second in the NFL with nine sacks.
Rookie cornerback Casey Hayward is tied for third in the NFL with four interceptions.
Wide receiver James Jones is tied for the NFL lead with seven touchdown receptions.
As a team, the Packers have not fared so well statistically.
Green Bay is ranked 21st in total offense in the NFL, as the Packers are ranked 12th in passing offense and 26th in rushing offense.
The Packers are ranked 13th in total defense in the NFL, as the Pack is 19th in passing defense and 12th in rushing defense.
The Packers do lead the NFL with 26 sacks.
The Packers are tied for seventh in the NFL with nine interceptions.
However, the Packers are only ranked 27th in the NFL with four forced fumbles and are ranked 29th in the NFL with only one recovered fumble.
So what does this all mean heading into the second half of the season?
Well, as I try to do my best impersonation of Nostradamus, I see the Packers going 7-1 the second half of the 2012 season to finish with a record of 12-4.
That should also be good enough to win the NFC North, as I see the Packers sweeping all of their NFC North opponents the rest of the season.
The Packers will suffer their only loss of the the second half of the season to the current NFL champion New York Giants in New Jersey.
Here is my game-by-game breakdown...
The Packers should be able to take care of the Arizona Cardinals without too much of a problem, a week before their bye week, which is sorely needed. Pun intended.
Why? The Cardinals are ranked 31st in total offense in the NFL right now, plus have allowed 35 sacks to their quarterbacks, which is tops in the NFL. The Packers will be licking their chops, as the Packers lead the NFL in sacks with 26.
The Cardinals have a stout defense (6th overall defense in the NFL), but the Packers should be able to muster enough offense and create enough turnovers defensively to win fairly convincingly.
Packers 31, Cardinals 17
The Packers should be invigorated coming off their bye week, as they head to Detroit to take on the Lions. The Packers have also won five out of their last six games in Detroit.
The Lions are ranked second in the NFL in total offense, and 9th in total defense, but you wouldn't know it with their 3-4 record. The last two wins by the Lions came after making furious comebacks too.
The Lions seem to turn the ball over a lot, as they have 12 turnovers (seven interceptions and five fumbles).
Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been inconsistent this season. He has eight touchdown passes, compared to seven picks, for 2,108 yards. That equates to only a 82.1 quarterback rating.
Packers 27, Lions 20
The Packers will try to erase the demons from last postseason as they take on the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants in New Jersey. It will be a hard-fought battle, but the Giants will be victorious.
The Giants are 4th in the NFL in total offense, led by quarterback Eli Manning, who has thrown 12 touchdown passes, compared to eight picks, for 2,301 yards (third in the NFL).
The G-Men are only ranked 24th in total defense, but that is misleading. New York is 7th in the NFL in sacks (21), tied for first in interceptions (16), and are second in fumbles recovered (eight).
Giants 27, Packers 24
The Packers will win their fifth straight game in this series against the Vikings in this battle at Lambeau Field.
The Vikings came down to earth after their 5-2 start, when they were whipped by the Tampa Bay Bucs last Thursday, 36-17.
The Vikings lack of a passing game has been exposed the past couple of weeks as well. Overall, the Vikings are ranked 26th in the NFL in passing.
If a team can keep running back Adrian Peterson in check, the odds of winning go up measurably.
The Vikings defense is ranked 11th in the NFL, and the Vikes are tied for second in sacks with 23. Defensive end Jared Allen leads the way with seven sacks.
Still, Aaron Rodgers has had his way against the Vikings, as he has thrown 19 touchdown passes, compared to just three picks, for 2,189 yards. He also has a career 116.5 quarterback rating vs. the Vikings.
Packers 34, Vikings 17
The Lions haven't won a game in Green Bay since 1991. That's 20 straight losses in the state of Wisconsin. The Lions won't win this year either.
One reason? Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has thrown 16 career touchdown passes against the Lions, compared to just four picks, for 1,876 yards. That is a career quarterback rating of 115.7 against the Lions.
Packers 23, Lions 14
In addition to that, Rodgers has thrown 15 touchdown passes, compared to just five interceptions, for 1,976 yards. That adds up to a 102.9 quarterback rating.
In the biggest game ever played at Soldier Field between these two teams, Rodgers led the Packers to a 21-14 win in the 2010 NFC Championship Game, while Cutler had to leave the game with a knee injury.
Packers 20, Bears 13
It will be a rollicking affair at Lambeau Field two days before Christmas and also the last home game of the season. The Packers should dominate.
Why? The Titans just aren't a very good football team. They are ranked 24th in total offense in the NFL, and are also ranked 30th in total defense.
The Packers owe the Titans too. Tennessee has won the last three games played between the two teams. Green Bay hasn't beaten the Titans since 1998, when they won 30-22 at Lambeau Field. That game was also played in late December.
Packers 38, Titans 17
The Packers will need this victory to secure the NFC North crown. It won't be easy, but the Packers will prevail.
The Humpty Dome used to be a house of horrors for the Packers to play at, but the Packers have actually won six out of the last nine games the two teams have played in Minneapolis.
In the last two games Aaron Rodgers has played at the Metrodome, he has thrown seven touchdown passes, compared to zero picks, for 636 yards.
Packers 27, Vikings 24