ESPN the Magazine Projects Green Bay Packers to go 16-0

By Evan Ream

Ever since the NFL permanently moved to a 16 game schedule in 1978 just one team has finished the regular season unbeaten: the 2007 New England Patriots.

If ESPN the Magazine’s September 3rd football preview issue’s projections are correct, the 2012 Green Bay Packers will join that exclusive list.

But just how accurate are these projections?

In the history of the NFL, teams have played 953 16-game seasons (strikes in 1982 and 1987 led to shortened seasons). This means that roughly .1% of teams have gone 16-0.

ESPN’s projections, which were done by simulating games using the sports betting website AccuScore, also projects the Rams to go 0-16. 0-16 has also happened just once in the history of the NFL.

They also predicted a tie between the New York Jets and the Houston Texans. Some NFL players aren’t even aware that a game can end as a tie.

Are these projections possible? Yes. Are they likely? No.

There are simply too many variables to factor in to confidently say that the Packers will go 16-0. Aaron Rodgers could tear his ACL on the first play of the season making Graham Harrell (Vince Young?) the starting quarterback. Unless he turned out to be the second-coming of Matt Flynn, the Packers would probably struggle to make the playoffs.

Furthermore, the Packers have huge issues on the defensive side of the ball. Their line never really recovered from loss of Cullen Jenkins to free agency after Super Bowl XLV. Last year they couldn’t get a consistent pass rush all season despite having possibly the league’s best outside linebacker in Clay Matthews.

They addressed these issues in the draft by selecting USC linebacker Nick Perry and Michigan State defensive end Jerel Worthy with their first two picks, but until these two young players can prove themselves, questions will remain about the Packers’ ability to get to the quarterback.

All NFL teams are flawed. This team is no exception. Despite their relatively easy schedule, someone will beat the Packers.

That being said, they should still win at least 12 games, make the playoffs, and possibly fulfill ESPN’s other projection: a Super Bowl win.

Follow Evan on twitter @EvanReam

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