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What will Brett Favre mean to the Minnesota Vikings?
To come up with that result, we used the same technology and approach as our 2009 NFL Preview. We simulated the upcoming season 10,000 times with Brett Favre taking every snap at quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings and compared it to a combination of Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels at quarterback.
Without Favre, and with a playbook similar to last season where the team runs the ball about 57% of the time, the Vikings win 11.05 games on average. That is good enough to win the NFC North title over the Chicago Bears by 2.86 games. The Favre-less Vikings are favored in 15 out of 16 games, only losing at Arizona by an average score of 25-18.
Here is the Favre-less Vikings' projected schedule and results:
|3||San Francisco 49ers||60||25-20|
|4||Green Bay Packers||76||28-18|
|5||@St. Louis Rams||84||30-19|
|8||@Green Bay Packers||70||25-20|
|17||New York Giants||53||22-20|
Largely due to their victory over Minnesota, the Arizona Cardinals finish ahead of the Vikings to earn the second seed in the NFC playoffs and a first round bye (Philadelphia is the top seed). In the playoffs, Minnesota first defeats the Giants at home before playing at Arizona. The Vikings lose to the Cardinals on the road - this time by an average score of 28-21. Minnesota is 8th in or initial 2009 NFL Power Rankings.
With Favre and a more balanced playbook, the Vikings win 11.11 games on average, to win the division over the Chicago Bears by 2.84 games (the Bears are a little stronger now than two months ago). With Favre, the Vikings are still favored in 15 out of 16 games, only losing at Arizona by a score of 25-19. The Cardinals again finish ahead of the Vikings to earn the second seed in the NFC playoffs and a first round bye.
Here is Vikings' projected schedule and results with Brett Favre:
|3||San Francisco 49ers||60||25-19|
|4||Green Bay Packers||74||27-18|
|5||@St. Louis Rams||83||30-19|
|8||@Green Bay Packers||71||26-21|
|17||New York Giants||53||24-23|
Essentially the same post-season result occurs, where the Vikings earn the third spot in the NFC Playoffs, defeat the Giants and then lose in Arizona. Minnesota does leap over the Saints to place 7th in the NFL Power Rankings with Favre.
Brett Favre is worth 0.05 wins to the Minnesota Vikings. Against some teams, Minnesota improves. Against others - typically those more adept at forcing turnovers - the Vikings are not as successful.
They may be the same in terms of wins and losses, but, statistically, these are two different teams. The Favre-less Vikings score 25.3 points per game and allow 18.6. They throw for 2,869 yards, 22 TDs and 10 interceptions and rush for 2,665 yards and 22 TDs. With Favre, the Vikings score 26.4 points per game and allow 19.7. Favre throws for 3,460 yards, 26 TDs and 15 interceptions, while the team rushes for 2,355 yards and 20 TDs.
The strength of this team is in its ability to run and stop the run. Adrian Peterson is approaching the prime of his career and should be a perennial MVP candidate. Chester Taylor and rookie Percy Harvin will also provide explosiveness out of the backfield. And the offensive line is among the league's best. Throwing more often may score a few extra points, but it is going to hurt a strong, yet thin defense and will lead to more offensive turnovers. Even if the Vikings with Favre run the ball as frequently as our original projection, the Vikings' turnover rate will still go up due to Favre's presence.
For Minnesota, according to our simulations, Brett Favre does not appear to be worth it. The team does not need a great quarterback to succeed - and Brett Favre is not a great quarterback any more.
Paul Bessire is the Product Manager of Content and Quantitative Analysis for WhatIfSports.com, a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in fantasy football simulation analysis and football sim games. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!