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Who fares better against winning teams: Matthew Stafford or Aaron Rodgers?

How does the performance of an elite quarterback like Aaron Rodgers change when he faces winning teams?

How does the performance of an elite quarterback like Aaron Rodgers change when he faces winning teams?

I recently wrote an article (with the help of Rourke Douglas Decker) stating that Matthew Stafford is not a bad quarterback against good teams.  In it, I examined Stafford’s career performance in games against winning teams (those that win nine or more games in a season) and non-winning teams (those that win eight or fewer games in a season) and concluded that Stafford’s dip in production against winning teams was roughly what is expected of a typical quarterback.

In order to further drive this point home, I thought it might be informative to compare Stafford’s production change against different opponents to that of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is easily the best quarterback in the NFC North, and many believe he is also the best quarterback in the NFL. Indeed, some some fans on WCSN have stated that they believe he is the best quarterback in NFL history. Consequently, it will be enlightening to see how Rodgers’ production changes as the competition gets harder.

Let’s dive in and take a look.

The numbers

I looked at every game (including playoffs) that Stafford and Rodgers have played in as starters for their teams, starting in 2009 for Stafford and 2008 for Rodgers.  Stafford has played in 46 games, 24 of which have been against winning teams, while Rodgers has appeared in 86 games, 44 against winning teams. The table below shows the difference between their passer ratings against winning teams compared to their career passer ratings.

Passer ratingAaron RodgersMatthew Stafford
Career104.982.8
Against winning opponents99.978.6
Differential-5.0-4.2

It is obvious that both Rodgers and Stafford experience roughly the same drop-off in overall performance (as measured by passer rating) when they play winning teams. For both quarterbacks, the drop-off is within the expected three- to five-points range typical of NFL quarterbacks when facing playoff-caliber opponents.  Intuitively, it makes sense that a quarterback will not perform quite as well against better competition, and that holds true even for the best quarterback in the league. In fact, his performance actually drops off slightly more than Stafford’s does against winning teams.

Game-by-game

Next we’re going to examine how each quarterback exhibited his decline in production from game to game.

In order to do that, let’s look at the percentage of games in which both Stafford and Rodgers have performed with a given passer rating. Since they put up drastically different average passer ratings, I made a direct comparison simpler by looking at their passer rating differential, which is calculated by the quarterback’s passer rating for that game minus his passer rating in that season. For example, Aaron Rodgers posted a passer rating of 93.3 in Week 1 of 2012, compared to his season passer rating of 108.0. His passer rating differential was then 93.3 – 108.0 = -14.7.

The charts for each quarterback are below, with Stafford’s on top and Rodgers’ on the bottom.

Figure 1. The percentage of games within a given passer rating differential for Matthew Stafford (top) and Aaron Rodgers (bottom).

Figure 1. The percentage of games within a given passer rating differential for Matthew Stafford (top) and Aaron Rodgers (bottom).

This chart can be a little confusing to read, but basically games in the middle are average for each quarterback, while games on the left are below average and games on the right are above average. The farther from the middle the bar is, the farther the game is from that quarterback’s average performance. Blue bars represent games against winning opponents, while red represents games against non-winning opponents.

Matthew Stafford might actually be more consistent against winning teams than Aaron Rodgers is.

Matthew Stafford might actually be more consistent against winning teams than Aaron Rodgers is.

As I noted in the previous article, Stafford’s performance dip (top chart) essentially comes from replacing his outstanding games (on the far right) against non-winning opponents with average ones against winning opponents.

Looking at Rodgers’ data (bottom), a different pattern emerges. Rodgers still has a healthy number of above-average games against winning opponents, but they decrease in number and are replaced by an increase in below-average games.

In a way, then, you could argue that Stafford is actually more consistent against winning opponents than Rodgers is. He might not have as many outstanding games as Rodgers will, but he also won’t have as many drastically below-average games that could potentially cost the team.

Conclusion

If I lost you in all the preceding mumbo-jumbo, here is the take-home messages: quarterbacks experience a dip in production when they play better teams.  This applies whether your quarterback is good (like Matthew Stafford) or one of the best (like Aaron Rodgers).

1491 comments
504 N.O. EZ
504 N.O. EZ

Aaron has a better squad than Matthew I -Broke - Both - Of - My - Shoulders Stafford . But if they get a defense that really wants to actually play together, then Reggies' statement might be taken seriously.

~ GEAUX SAINTS

NonStattHumper
NonStattHumper

this place will be a blast once the season starts 


Fiddy We be one game out of first HAHAHAHAHAHA
Fiddy We be one game out of first HAHAHAHAHAHA

Do you want to know why I play the guitar so damn good?? It's because I play like I am making love to a WOMAN!!! Not just a hit n run but a WOMAN!!  It's like my 2 favorites things ("Playing Guitar" & "Making love to a Woman!! ) come together for one AWESOME Moment!! You feel connected to what you are playing!!! 
Better than SEX?? Maybe not but damn close!!

How my boys doing?

RickSalo
RickSalo

LKP is prolly at the Parade in Detoilet trying to get stats on how many teeth the average street whore is missing

 ✔ESPN OUTsider
✔ESPN OUTsider

Loyal Ram just now

We need to get a 1,000 screaming Rams Fans in here, and OWN the site!.....Unfortunately, the love them some baseball cardinals right now...

Reesypieces
Reesypieces

Hey Ladies Choice. 

Happy BBQ Day. 

natesweet
natesweet moderator

I must go see if any coffee places are open

natesweet
natesweet moderator

Merry Independence Day! Anyone blow off any digits yet?

nonstradamus
nonstradamus

Holy crap, we have a BBAO for today. That will be up momentarily.

RickSalo
RickSalo

4 yrs ago to the date some skank shot Steve McNair  doesn't seem that long ago was a regular in aol pro football chat  huge offseason news back then . 

nonstradamus
nonstradamus

@alexbader I just got up too, although I feel like I got hit by a Mac truck after my workout yesterday. Happy Independence Day to you, sir.

 ✔ESPN OUTsider
✔ESPN OUTsider

The new NFCW. I don't see how I can possibly leave them alone.

Reesypieces
Reesypieces

@Um... 

Later, Nate-Nate

I think a lot of places are open today but are closing early. 

Reesypieces
Reesypieces

@Um... 

Hey Nate-Nate.

I have not. Could have last night. Wait... ITMTBS? 

nonstradamus
nonstradamus

If any of the head honchos are around over there, tell them that if they are in need of content in the short term, all of our articles are released under a Creative Commons license and they are more than free to use them, so long as they give proper attribution, of course. Obviously, they won't be interested in our NFCN/S-specific content, but our statistical articles, opinion pieces, etc. could all be of interest.

nonstradamus
nonstradamus

@alexbader Bear in mind we just had a huge influx of people come in as a result of the changes over at ESPN, so there are going to be waves of trolling everywhere. Things will settle down. They always do. We have seen it before.

In the meantime, if you want to use some of our articles, go ahead. It will prime the pump and it won't have any risk of copyright infringement. :)

nonstradamus
nonstradamus

@alexbader I am guessing 99% of people "affiliated" with us who have trolled your site troll ours too. We can't control that, unfortunately. I have made it very clear that I do not want anyone trolling on any site as a representative of us.

I have been very direct in my offers of help. You are free to accept them or not, but please do not attribute nefarious motives to me.

nonstradamus
nonstradamus

@Preparation_A Interesting thing is you can find videos on Youtube of the military interposing itself in conflicts between civilians and the cops, actually protecting the people from the cops. 

Reesypieces
Reesypieces

@Godfather Dr. Prof. Reggie, M.D. @Nonstopdrivel 

Man, I was telling them to join before all of this crap went done. Was begging people to come and write articles. 


They have the exact same system as this site. But as I stated, they want to do their own thing, can't get mad at them for that. 

Gruntled ®eggie
Gruntled ®eggie moderator

@Nonstopdrivel

He then went on to say our "rank" was laughable and they will pass it in no time.

Earlier he did ask if I wanted to help, but I referred him to you and gave him your WCSN email since you know a lot a more than I do. idk. It's in his court now.