NFL Trading Places: Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre From WhatIfSports.com image

Trading Places: Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers gives Pack better shot in Super Bowl XLV

By Ryan Fowler - Whatifsports.com
Jan. 31, 2011

Despite statistics and records that will go down in NFL history as the best of all-time, Brett Favre's off-the-field legacy, at least during the internet age (which you could argue fuels the court of public opinion), revolves around dirty text messages, delayed retirements, fighting through injures to the point of idiocy and, if you rewind his career to 1995, started with his addiction to painkillers and public admission before entering rehab. If you believe this is hyperbole, punch Brett Favre into a search engine.

Brett Favre

It reached an awkward point last week when the ol' gun-slinger was mentioned in the same sentence as Larry King, Regis Philbin and the president of Egypt as people who need to go away. Ouch.

Two playoff wins and a stroll through an airport terminal were all it took for Aaron Rodgers' pedestal to start shaking. After waiting six seasons to step outside the Lambeau-sized shadow Favre left behind, Rodgers endured his first media blitz that attacked his character. Following his dismantling of the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay's quarterback was blindsided by Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Florio has since apologized for reaching a verdict prior to collecting all the facts.

Florio's column acts as a small reminder to Rodgers that 11 touchdown passes, one interception and two playoff wins in a four-game span can be trumped by the 24-hour news cycle and an audience that craves scandal.

As a website that removes as much subjective bias as possible and allows the statistics to share an athlete's story, Whatifsports.com addressing the off-the-field media attention of Favre and Rodgers may seem futile. Yet, this simulation piece does focus on Favre "trading places" with Rodgers. Although there is little doubt that Favre would be interested in trading off-the-field approval ratings with his successor, Rodgers' success on the field within these simulations should also be considered by Favre followers as a trade-up.

2010 vs 1996 Packers - 2,501 Simulations
MatchupWin%Avg ScoreWIS Interactive
2010 Green Bay Packers4023Create Packers
1996 Green Bay Packers6026Dream Team
Brett Favre
Brett Favre
Aaron Rodgers

The first batch of game simulations created a baseline to learn which quarterback is more valuable to the Green Bay franchise. We played Favre's 1996 Packers against Rodgers' 2010 squad head-to-head 2,501 times. The Super Bowl champs won six out of every 10 games by an average score of 26-23.

1996 Favre and team stats:

  • 3,899 passing yards
  • 39 passing TDs (NFL best)
  • 13 interceptions
  • 95.8 QB rating
  • 28.5 points per game (NFL best)
  • 13.1 points allowed per game (NFL best)

2010 Rodgers and team stats:

  • 3,922 passing yards
  • 28 passing TDs
  • 11 interceptions
  • 101.2 QB rating
  • 24.2 points per game
  • 15.0 points allowed per game (second best)

Using Whatifsports.com's Dream Team feature, we traded Brett Favre 1996 for Aaron Rodgers 2010 to see how to the past two Packers quarterbacks would fare in various simulation matchups. Each game was simulated 2,501 times and generated each team's chances of winning and average score.

Super Bowl XXXI w/ Rodgers - 2,501 Simulations
MatchupWin%Avg ScoreWIS Interactive
1996 Packers - Rodgers 7028Create Packers
1996 New England Patriots3022Dream Team

Rodgers had just turned 13 years old when Favre led the Packers to Super Bowl XXXI at the age of 27. No. 4 completed only 51.9 percent of his passes against New England but torched the Patriots secondary for two long touchdown scores (Andre Rison 54 yards and Antonio Freeman 81 yards). The
35-21 win marked Green Bay's first Super Bowl title in 29 years.

Coincidentally, Rodgers will play in his first Super Bowl at the age of 27 and 66 days (42 days ahead of Favre). We wanted to know how his 2010 statistical output would blend with the rest of Green Bay's 1996 Super Bowl roster. As the starting quarterback, Rodgers still led the '96 Packers to the title 70 percent of the time by an average score of 28-22.

2010 vs 1996 - QB Swap - 2,501 Simulations
MatchupWin%Avg ScoreWIS Interactive
2010 Packers w/ Favre 28.821Create Packers
1996 Packers w/ Rodgers 71.228Dream Team

We traded Rodgers to the 1996 Packers for Favre straight up. In the 2,501 simulations, Rodgers increased the '96 Packers' winning percentage by more than 11 percent and the margin of victory by four points.

Super Bowl XLV - 2,501 Simulations
MatchupWin%Avg ScoreWIS Interactive
Pittsburgh Steelers52.521Average Game Stats
Green Bay Packers47.520Simulate Super Bowl XLV

With Rodgers at quarterback for Green Bay and according to the WhatIfSports NFL simulation engine, which correctly predicted this matchup, the Pittsburgh Steelers come out ahead 52.5 percent of the time by an average score of 21-20.

Super Bowl XLV w/ Favre - 2,501 Simulations
MatchupWin%Avg ScoreWIS Interactive
2010 Pittsburgh Steelers55.522Create Packers
2010 Packers w/ Favre44.521Dream Team

With Favre at quarterback for the 2010 Packers, Green Bay's chances in Super Bowl XLV fell by
3 percent, but the average score increased by a point for each team.

With internet reports amending Favre's biography the past three years, it's easy to forget the good ol' boy from Kiln, Miss. was a great quarterback. Not just good, but great. These NFL simulations could create the argument that Rodgers is on a similar path to Green Bay greatness and could cement his place in Lambeau lore with a Super Bowl win over the Steelers.


Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.

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