Here we go.
Unless you have been living under a rock the last week, you know that the Green Bay Packers will be facing the quarterback that accomplished so much during his 16 year career in Wisconsin. That quarterback will be wearing purple and yellow on Monday night instead of the familiar green and gold that football fans have been accustomed to seeing for years.
Growing up, Michael Jordan and Brett Favre were my idols. I became a Packers fan in large part due to number four. But Favre’s ‘will he or won’t he’ antics have not just began over the last two years. Packer fans know the drama that Favre creates in the offseason as his rumored retirement began all the way back in the 2002 offseason.
Let it be known that I was one of the fans that wanted the organization to appease Favre during the training camp fiasco last year. Even though the Packers finished 6-10 last year, Aaron Rodgers established himself as a premier quarterback in the NFL and he was the much better quarterback between him and Favre. Green Bay’s GM, Ted Thompson, took a lot of flack for his decision to stick with Rodgers but he’s looked like a genius. Favre had a messy divorce with the Jets at the end of last year and as we all know, he decided to come back to the Minnesota Vikings after a desperate effort by head coach Brad Childress.
The legend of Favre continued to grow after last week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. Favre threw a 32 yard game-winning touchdown pass to Greg Lewis with two seconds left to give the Vikings a stunning 27-24 win over the Niners. The Vikings moved to 3-0 on the season ahead of the big tilt against the Packers.
One thing that the Vikings need to stray away from in this game is the overuse of Favre and the under utilization of Adrian Peterson. Last week against San Francisco, Favre threw the ball 46 times while the best player in the NFL only received 19 carries. In the first two games of the season against Cleveland and Detroit, Favre threw the ball 21 and 27 times respectively. Peterson had 25 carries against the Browns and only 15 against the Lions. If Childress continues to let Favre air it out against better teams, he will not be as fortunate as he was against the 49ers.
The Packers would be wise if they stacked the box with eight defenders and as weird as it sounds, they would be better off letting Brett Favre beat them compared to Adrian Peterson. Peterson has destroyed the Packers in his short career – like many teams in the league. In his four games against the Packers, Peterson has ran for over 100 yards three times with the lone exemption coming in 2007 when Al Harris injured Peterson’s knee on a tackle early on in the game. Last year at the Metrodome, Peterson ran for 192 yards on 30 carries against the Packers. There is no question that if Green Bay wants to win this game, they have to contain the best player in the game at all costs.
For the Packers, they come into this contest at a mark of 2-1 and they were able to down the St. Louis Rams with relative ease last week. Aaron Rodgers threw for a pair of touchdowns and also ran for one as the Packers won 36-17. The big concern for the Packers is how their offensive line stacks up against the Vikings All-Pro defensive line, which boasts Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, and Pat Williams. It’s not a good sign for the Pack when they can boast about ‘only’ giving up two sacks last week. Rodgers has been sacked 12 times in three weeks, which is the most in the NFL. Starting right tackle Allen Barbre has been horrid this season as he has allowed Adewale Ogunleye, Antwan Odom, and Leonard Little to run rampant on Rodgers. Look for Jared Allen to be in the backfield early and often for Minnesota.
This is obviously a very important game for both teams, but there is more pressure on the home team to win home division games. If the Packers can somehow steal this game from Minnesota, they will be in the driver’s seat in the NFC North at 3-1 heading into their bye week. And after the bye week, the Packers face the likes of Detroit, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay with the Lambeau Field rematch against Minnesota sandwiched in there.
It pains me to say it, but Minnesota is the favorite and should win this game because the Packers weaknesses play to the Vikings strengths. If there is a given, the game should be competitive as the last six contests at the Metrodome have been decided by seven or less points. The circus will be in Minneapolis on Monday night, but just remember that there will be a game in the middle of all the nonsense at around 7:30 tonight.