Brett Favre's retirement makes more sense when you realistically consider the Packers' chances in 2008. Maybe the ghost of Christmas future - played by John Madden - visited Favre Monday night and showed him a 9-7 wild-card season and a quick exit from the playoffs. Favre, who already holds all the key career records, would have had nothing to gain by coming back for that.
You hear a lot about the young talent around Favre, but the Packers were bound to take a step back from last year's 13-3 record. The NFL schedule gods, who are clearly big Favre fans, handed Green Bay a huge assist last season. Consider:
1. They faced the weakest division in the AFC, the AFC West, and went 4-0 in those games.
2. They caught the Eagles in Week 1 when Donovan McNabb was still gimpy and couldn't throw within 12 yards of one of his receivers.
3. They visited the Giants in Week 2 before that defense understood new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's system.
4. They had the Rams on their schedule.
Next season the Packers face brutal AFC South, with Jacksonville and Tennessee on the road, and Houston and Indy at home. That's three losses.
They also visit the Bucs, Saints and Seahawks and host the Cowboys. That's at least two more losses.
That brings us top the NFC North. The schizophrenic Bears either go 13-3 or suffer about 20 injuries and go 5-11. Chicago put a 35-7 beat-down on the Packers in Week 16 and could be back this season. The Vikings have a great offensive line and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson will have a little more experience. And the Lions can't play any worse against Green Bay than they did last year.
The Packers were likely to end up between 7-9 and 10-6 if Favre had returned. A return to the NFC Championship game would have been tough and a trip to the Super Bowl was a longshot. If Favre had decided to leave after next season, he would have had a good chance of going out on a sour note.
Without Favre, I'd be very surprised if the Packers reached the postseason. Aaron Rodgers may end up being an adequate NFL quarterback, but with a non-divisional schedule that includes six playoff teams from '07, Green Bay will have little margin for error and can't afford any growing pains in '08.