Packers projected to finish under10.5 wins at NFL prediction site

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The Green Bay Packers have an OVER/UNDER wins total of 10.5 for the season ahead at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, and one NFL prediction website has the UNDER wager pegged as the correct choice on that betting line heading into the 2016 campaign.

At PredictionMachine.com the Packers are projected to win 10.1 games in the season ahead, which would be in line with their 2015 performance in which they posted a 10-6 record. That was good for just second place in the NFC North standings behind the 11-5 Minnesota Vikings, with the Packers then having to settle for a Wild Card berth in the NFC postseason.

Green Bay beat Washington soundly in a 35-18 victory on Wild Card Weekend last season, but they came up short in a 26-20 loss at Arizona against the Cardinals in the second round.

The Packers went OVER 10.5 wins on the season as recently as 2014, when they posted a 12-4 record and won the NFC North title. Green Bay has picked up 56 wins over the past five seasons, an average of 11.2 wins per year, highlighted by the team’s 15-1 mark back in 2011.

And while that preseason projection has the Packers falling UNDER 10.5 wins on the season, at the sportsbooks the OVER is the chalk wager at -175 (bet $175 to win $100). Green Bay is also the -180 favorite on the odds to win the NFC North, and at +850 on the Super Bowl odds.

That +850 line has the Packers second behind only the New England Patriots (+600) on the Super Bowl LI odds, and Aaron Rodgers and company are also ranked as the second most likely team to win the title at PredictionMachine.com; the website ran the 2016 NFL campaign 50,000 times, with the Packers ending up winning the Super Bowl 9.7% of the time overall.

The Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 11.7% of the projections, with the Cardinals coming out on top 8.9% of the time. The top AFC team according to the predictive score modeling site is actually the Pittsburgh Steelers, who won the Super Bowl 7.3% of the time in the projections. The Patriots fell behind in that computer simulation, winning 6% of the time.

The Packers will get their regular-season schedule underway on Sunday, September 11 when they pay a visit to the Jacksonville Jaguars. PredictionMachine.com gives the Packers a 61.9% chance of winning that game, with the projected score Green Bay 28.2-23.1.

NBC Sports’ Josh Norris attempts the combine

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The lengths I go to entertain you.

Since I attempt to evaluate these prospects’ athleticism, my friends at NBC Sports thought it was only fair if I went through the same circuit of drills and tests as the future NFL players.

So what did I learn? I learned that I am no longer an in shape 18-year-old. I learned how important flexibility is for every single drill. I can’t even touch my toes, which does not help with the broad jump or turning the corner on a three cone. And I’m jealous of the rest these prospects get between their attempts.

For more of Josh’s drills, check out the full lineup here

T.O. controversy underscores need for Hall of Fame transparency

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I started down the T.O. Hall of Fame time out rabbit hole a week ago due primarily to concerns regarding a lack of transparency in the selection process. After a week of arguments, counterarguments, and a few condescending comments from voters who resent being questioned or criticized by people who don’t know the inner working of the process, I’m back to where I started.

Those who criticize the process indeed don’t know the inner workings of the process because the process is kept completely secret. And the T.O. case proves that the time has arrived for transparency.

As Peter King of TheMMQB.com pointed out earlier this week, those who voted against Owens largely have slipped into hiding.

The fact that Owens didn’t make it from the final 15 to the final 10 suggests that the nays are more plentiful than necessary to transform him from one of the final five into a Hall of Famer. Don’t underestimate, however, the possibility that the voters collectively realized that enough of them would never get behind Owens on the final ballot (where it takes only 10 to put the kibosh on Canton) to make pushing Owens to the final 10 or the final five an exercise in futility.

It ultimately may be only 10 people who are anti-T.O. Maybe there aren’t that many; maybe the handful was loud enough and zealous enough that they managed to convince enough of their peers to think that pushing Owens through to the final five would set the stage for an ugly filibuster at best or a complete waste of time (and a spot that could have gone to someone else) at worst.

The only obvious “no” votes currently known (by me) are Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News (he wrote a column about it), Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (ditto), Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts (he made his case against Owens in a radio interview), and Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report (his Twitter account makes his position clear). All of the “no” votes should be known, and those who have kept quiet while the process has been challenged generally and a small handful of their colleagues have been attacked specifically should speak up.

Even if all the “no” votes were known, we still won’t know everything that needs to be known. Those voters who have chosen to disclose their position on Owens refuse to disclose the identity of other Hall of Famers, players, and/or coaches who have privately said that Owens doesn’t belong. Setting aside the question of whether these non-voters should have so much sway over the process, the refusal to name them makes the process even harder to accept.

It’s one thing to gather facts anonymously. Gathering opinions anonymously allows for those anonymous opinions to be tainted by personal animus. Also, it makes objective assessment of the basis for the opinions impossible, allowing for all sorts of subjective factors to be twisted and warped — and for the voters to abdicate their responsibility to assess the candidate to the whispers of those who, given the benefit of secrecy, are far more likely to yield to the temptation of human factors.

The broader concern is this: When evaluating a player based on what he did on a 100-by-53-yard patch of grass or FieldTurf or green cement, it’s easy to assess the opinions of the voters and to develop opinions on the accuracy of the outcome of the votes. When things that happened from the sideline to the parking lot become relevant to the process, it becomes impossible to know what is being considered, why it’s being considered, which others have made it through despite similar concerns, and whether those standards will be applied to future candidates.

There can be no consistency without transparency, and with no transparency it’s impossible for those who view Owens as a knee-jerk Hall of Famer to understand his omission for a second straight year. The voters who oppose Owens can either sneer at those of us who think they got it wrong or they can heed the criticisms, lobby for meaningful change, and bring a different approach to the process in 2018.

If it’s the former, there will be more sneering at those of us who think they got it wrong, both as to Owens and as to others who seem to pass the Hall of Fame eyeball test but can’t get in.