Archive for the Green Bay Packers Category


Reeling Green Bay Packers: Sorry, Titletown, It’s Not 2003 Anymore

It was Ted Thompson’s worst nightmare, and fittingly enough, it happened just hours after Halloween ended.

Brett Favre. Celebrating at Lambeau Field. After having just beaten the Packers. As a member of the (shudder) Minnesota Vikings.

But the true nightmare for Mike McCarthy’s team is not that Brett Favre is now ahead of Ted Thompson in the greatest ongoing battle of will and ego since Roger Waters and David Gilmour fought over the use of the name “Pink Floyd.”

The Packers’ true nightmare, or at least it should be, is that by losing 38-26 to Favre’s Vikings on Sunday, they have virtually lost any hope they had of winning the NFC North title this season.

By sweeping the Packers and taking a 7-1 record into their bye week, the Vikings are virtually three games up on Green Bay’s soon-to-be 5-3 record (yes, I’m already putting next week’s game against Tampa Bay in the Packers’ win column; it’s the very definition of “lock of the week”).

That three-game lead will be nearly impossible to erase over the course of eight weeks.

But hold it, you say. Aren’t the Minnesota Vikings the biggest choke artists in the history of professional sports?

Aren’t they the team that a decade ago went 15-1 in the regular season and didn’t even make the Super Bowl? That started the 2003 season 6-0 and didn’t even make the playoffs? And then followed that up the next season by starting 5-1 only to finish at 8-8?

Well, yes.

It’s particularly tempting for Packers fans to look back on that 2003 season for reasons to believe that Green Bay has a shot at the NFC North title in 2009; in 2003, the Vikings held an even greater four-game lead on the Packers just seven weeks into the season. In the eighth game of the season, Green Bay beat Minnesota at the Metrodome, sparking a 7-2 run over the last nine weeks.

The Vikings, meanwhile, went 3-6 over those nine weeks, culminating in a last-second loss to the terrible Arizona Cardinals that sent the purple home for the off-season and the Packers into the playoffs.

Unfortunately, the 2009 Vikings are not the 2003 Vikings and the 2009 Packers are not the 2003 Packers.

The 2003 Vikings had the turnover-prone Daunte Culpepper, the malcontent Randy Moss, the two-headed-garbage backfield of Michael Bennett and Moe Williams, a truly awful defense, and a true bonehead (Mike Tice) for a coach.

The 2009 Vikings have, at worst, a very good defense, an infinitely better rushing attack with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, unselfish receivers, and (yes, you knew I had to throw this in) a major upgrade at quarterback. And while Brad Childress isn’t exactly the second coming of Bud Grant, he’s not as big a putz as Tice was.

The 2009 Packers, meanwhile, look great on paper, in meaningless preseason games, and in lining up against the dregs of the NFL, but they carry with them major problems that are apparently irreparable under the current roster and regime.

This year’s Packers take too many penalties. Scratch that. They take too many stupid penalties.

They don’t get pressure on the quarterback.

Due to injury, they have an over-the-hill power running back returning kicks.

And, most glaring of all, they possess one of the worst NFL offensive lines in recent memory, which severely hinders their run game and makes Aaron Rodgers, who has become one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in an astonishingly short period of time, the biggest whipping boy since Saved By The Bell ’s Screech.

If the 2010 Packers can shore up that offensive line, they can play with anyone.

But this 2009 Packer team will be in a dogfight for one of two NFC Wild Card spots, and despite the alarming increase in godawful NFL teams this year, the Packers will face some stiff competition for those spots: Atlanta, Chicago, and any team from the NFC East not based in the nation’s capital are talented teams that will be fighting with the Packers for a postseason berth.

To make matters worse, the Packers have already played the majority of their cupcake games: After Tampa, Green Bay must play Baltimore, a rejuvenated Dallas, plus road games at Pittsburgh, at Arizona, and at Chicago.

The Vikings, meanwhile, get a very winnable three-game home stand after their bye week, and while some may question Favre’s durability as the season progresses, it seems just as likely that having the Packers games behind him has to be such a huge relief that he might even start to play better.

Favre continuing to play better? Now that he’s swept the Packers, that’s the NFC’s nightmare, not Ted Thompson’s.

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Favre Sticks It to the Packers in Green Bay

In Brett Favre’s much anticipated return to Green Bay, for the second time in less than a month the Vikings beat down the Packers for a very sweet victory for No. 4

 

Who says you can’t go home? Well, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre not only returned to Green Bay, he kicked in the door with authority as the Vikings, led by No. 4, dominated the Packers 38-26. 

Some will say that the Vikings would not have won if not for emerging rookie WR/KR Percy Harvin (five catches for 84 yards and one TD plus five kick returns for 175 yards), but the day and game clearly belong to Favre.

After enduring a week of being called a “Waffler,” “Flip-Flopper,” “Drama Queen,” and “Traitor” by many of his former fans from his home of 16 years, Favre stepped on the field and put aside a booing crowd to stick it to his old team. 

To the surprise of no one, including Favre, when the former Packers’ legend hit the field wearing Vikings’ purple, the majority of the Packers faithful let him have it. 

However in the end, it was Favre and his Vikings teammates who left the field with much bigger smiles than the inconsistent Green Bay team for the second time in less than a month.

Favre threw a season-high four touchdown passes and was never even touched in the pocket (zero sacks) as he piled up superb passing numbers: 17-for-28, 244 yards, 4 TDs, and 0 INTs.

Favre leaned on All-World running back Adrian Peterson (25 carries for 97 yards and one touchdown) early, and later exploded as he guided the Vikings to an early 24-3 record. 

To the Packers credit, they fought back, getting the score within 10 points. But the Vikings defense—why doesn’t anyone ever talk about them—shut them down and forced six sacks of quarterback Aaron Rodgers (26-for-41, 63.4 percent, 287 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 INTs plus 52 rushing yards).

After the game, Favre hugged several members of the Packers team and staff including former favorite receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. 

The future Pro Football Hall of Famer left the field surrounded by media everywhere and pumped his fist to a mix of cheers and boos from the stands as he went up the Lambeau tunnel in triumph. 

Favre said after the game, “I’m not going to sit here and throw any daggers…We played about as good as we can play. We can play better, but that’s what it was going to take to beat that football team. That’s the satisfying thing.” 

Favre added, “I’ve never been one to rub it in anyone’s face…The guys I’ve played with as a Packer, I’ve got a lot of respect for, as I do (for) this organization and these fans.”

So with Favre-a-palooza over for the second time in less than one month, let’s take an inventory of what happened. 

Favre in two big wins over the Packers (scores of 30-23 in Week Four and 38-26 in Week Eight) finished 41-for-59 for 515 yards, seven TDs, 0 INTs, no sacks allowed and a passer rating well over 130. 

And of course like he always seems to do every week, Favre set a record of most completions in one venue (passed John Elway’s record) and tied Dan Marino’s NFL record of 21 career games with at least four TD passes.  

The Packers on the other hand have a 10-13 record since sending their former franchise quarterback to exile in the Meadowlands in 2008 while playing for the New York Jets

Packers veteran CB Charles Woodson even labeled the current Packers as a “non-Big Game” team.

Brett Favre is now 90-28 in his career as a starter at Lambeau Field in the regular season and 98-31 in 129 starts at the site including playoffs (8-3 record in playoffs). 

Favre stated at his postgame press conference, “What I’ve done here (Green Bay) speaks for itself.” 

For those unable to interpret Favre’s last comments, I will translate them for you.  “Hey Packers GM Ted Thompson and the rest of you haters, how do you like me now? What!”

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award -winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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No Defense For Packers As They Hand Brett Favre His Vindication, For Now

If you had told Packer fans Monday morning Adrian Peterson would rush the ball 26 times for 55 yards, lose a fumble for a Green Bay touchdown, Aaron Rodgers would throw for almost 400 yards the Packers would still lose, they’d have told you that you were insane.

Welcome to Crazytown, population: Cheesehead Nation.

As if seeing Brett Favre wasn’t unequivocally maddening in an of itself for Green Bay Fans, a Brett Favreian performance and Vikings victory came on a night when nation’s eyes were squarely on that new purple No. 4 jersey.

Brett Favre can still get it done, he can still win football games, he is still an electric talent in the NFL. None of those should have been questioned before Monday Night, but the Packers certainly didn’t do themselves any favors in helping Favre of today look like the Favre of old.

Green Bay’s defense was listless rushing the passer, reactive rather than aggressive in coverage, and was on its heels most of the night despite containing Adrian Peterson all night long. It was as if the Packers dared Favre to beat him, and Favre obliged.

What??

Why, in the name of all things Vince Lombardi, would the Packers just LET Brett Favre beat them? I wrote last week that the Packers wanted the ball in the hands of Brett Favre, and that is still true. Brett Favre was outstanding, never making the gunslinging mistake plenty of Packer fans were hoping he would. But the Packers didn’t MAKE Brett Favre beat them, they let him.

The Packers didn’t get sliced and diced by Favre because they were too busy worrying about Adrian Peterson. Favre carved up the secondary on straight drop-backs with absolutely zero pressure on his face. Tavaris Jackson could have thrown for 270 yards and three touchdowns against that defense.

No creativity, no pressure, no aggression from Green Bay’s defense.

That is unacceptable in a game the Packers defense had talked about since August. There weren’t linebackers running around creating pressure, or defensive backs flying in on unexpected downs.

A blitz is a blitz to some degree, and if you want to create pressure on the quarterback, while you’re there you might make a tackle on a running back should he get the ball instead. Had Dom Capers not heard of a run blitz? Because a run blitz on a pass play is still a blitz. It still means bringing more people than the offensive line can theoretically block. It means moving Favre a step or two off his spot.

Just ask Aaron Rodgers. He knows what it’s like to be moved from his spot. The guy was running for his life all night, and has been all season, and yet had the Packers within an onsides kick of going on a game-winning drive. He was sacked about 28 times, and that was just by Jared Allen.

It started on the opening drive. Green Bay, with a chance to quiet the crowd early and put Favre in a must-throw situation, marched down the field. Rodgers was brilliant, making stick throws and converting third downs. Then, he held the ball a little too long, was sandwiched and lost a fumble. Favre lead the Vikings down the field and all of a sudden it’s 7-0 Vikings instead of 7-0 Packers.

Similar scenario just a few moments later when the Packers, having tied the game and forced Favre three and out, marched down the field again. This time, Rodgers threw a comeback route that Antoine Winfield came back with. Favre drove the Vikings down the field and the Vikes are back up 14-7, instead of the other way around.

That is 14 points off turnovers on two of the first three drives of the game. The Packers come away with touchdowns the other way instead of turnovers (highly plausible given the way they moved the ball much of the game) and a Favre-lead 31 throw night trying to overcome a 21-7 deficit does not end well for Minnesota.

Green Bay let Brett Favre have this moment, he didn’t take it. The Packers played wildly inconsistent football, made mental mistakes with penalties, turned the ball over, and still had a chance to win the game on the road in the most emotional football game played in Minneapolis since I’ve been alive.

The Vikings wanted it more, and showed it with tenacity, hustle, and better execution.

The Vikings with Brett Favre, needed to win that game more than the Packers. A Super Bowl contender wins a game against a division rival at home on a Monday Night.

It was horrible, awful, terrible, excruciating, and difficult to watch for Packer fans, but let’s not jump to conclusions about what this means about Ted Thompson, Aaron Rodgers, and the first Brett Favre retirement.

No way, with the kind of time Rodgers got, that 39 year-old Brett Favre nearly puts up four bills and has his team in a position to win the game late. Just saying.

It was unbearable at times to look at, and it came to a point where I’d shut off my phone and turned the TV off. But fans cannot quit on the team,and more importantly the Packers can’t quit. They showed the kind of talent they have, but some mistakes and some strange coaching decisions were the difference in a game where the Vikings were basically perfect and Green Bay was mediocre at best.

Brett Favre and the Vikings needed their best game of the season to beat the Packers at home in a game with much more importance to them. They got it, and the Packers, particularly the defense, didn’t even get off the bus. Yet, 30-23 is essentially as bad as it could get.

A loss is a loss, and this one is horrible. The Packers have two weeks to think about it, to stew over it, to make corrections, and to get it right against some weak opponents coming up. The Vikings proved they were a top-tier team when they took care of business Monday Night.

But, rest assured, the Packers gets their chance to do the same in a few weeks. If they bring their best game November 1st the same way the Vikings did Monday, the tundra will seem even chillier for one Mr. Favre.

Revenge is after all, a dish best served cold.   

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No Pressure: Favre Shreds The Wisconsin Secondary For The Win

In preparation for Monday night’s match-up, Dom Capers had to pick his poison: stop the running game  of Adrian Peterson or prevent Brett Favre from slinging the ball to his purple receivers.

Before last night’s game, Peterson was averaging over 6 yards a carry this season. Known as one of the league’s premier running backs, Adrian Peterson is a nightmare to game plan against.

Yet last night, the Packers were able to contain Peterson to a meager 55 yards on 22 attempts (a 2.2 average). Former first round pick Clay Matthews III was also able to rip the football out of Peterson’s hands and run 42 yards in for a touchdown.

If this was 2008, it would seem like Green Bay was able to successfully shut down Minnesota’s offense.

Unfortunately for the Packers, a certain player that was behind the Vikings offense was able to exploit the Green Bay secondary that former quarterbacks Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson could not.

That player was none other than Brett Favre.

In what seemed to be the dream come true for the Ironman ever since his departure from Wisconsin, Favre was able to put on a show Monday Night. Favre was 24 of 31 for 3 touchdowns and no interceptions versus his former team. 

Favre’s first touchdown was a short left pass to Visanthe Shiancoe, where Nick Barnett was not fast enough to cover.

The second touchdown was pass over the middle to Sidney Rice for 14 yards where Nick Collins was a step behind.

The third and final touchdown was a deep pass to Bernard Berrian for 31 yards. Berrian had beat Al Harris on the play but Derrick Martin failed to cover over the top and was too late to defend the pass.

Favre picked apart the entire secondary all night, which was due to a lack of a pass rush.

The 3-4 defense did a phenomenal job taking Adrian Peterson out of the game, but failed to get any sort of pressure on Favre.

Dom Capers failed to utilize the blitzing capabilities of the linebackers to rattle Favre. The defense was accredited with just one quarterback hit and no sacks.

The defensive effort could have been summed up by one play. Early in the third quarter, Favre had more than six seconds in the pocket and was able to complete a long 31 yard pass down the middle.

Dom, if your looking to get Brett throwing interceptions, you have got to rattle that 40 year old body of his first.

With a bye coming up this week, hopefully the Packers can get healthy and learn from their mistakes last night. Favre comes to town in less than a month.

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Green Bay Packers-Minnesota Vikings: The Traitor Awaits!

Pull out all the stops!

This game is for the NFC North lead, bragging rights between two rivals, and a memorandum on two quarterbacks.

Except the game really means none of those things.

No one cares who takes the division lead a quarter of the way into the season. What matters is who is standing in that position in January.

Bragging rights tend to be more significant for the team that wins the second game of the head-to-head. Sure, the winner of this game can brag for a few weeks, but the winner of the second game will have almost a year.

Besides, at one point, Dennis Green’s Vikings went 9-5 against the Packers, but won only two division titles to the Packers’ three. The Packers had a Super Bowl title and were 8-4 in the playoffs, while the Vikings won only one playoff game.

Which team had more to boast about?

Finally, this game is absolutely not a memorandum on the quarterbacks. Aaron Rodgers has outperformed Brett Favre in the first 19 games of his career, and may well win ten times as many games for the remainder of it.

It would be no more fair to compare the two in this game alone- than it would to compare them for the years after “The Traitor” finally does retire- and only Rodgers is still winning games.

This one game will be won or lost as a team.

Too bad for Rodgers and Packers fans, because Green Bay simply does not match up well in this one.

Packers pass offense vs. Vikings pass defense: Slight advantage, Minnesota

The Vikings do not have a very good secondary, and the Packers have a deep and dangerous receiving corps. The Packers have last year’s sixth-rated, and this year’s eighth-rated passer, making this seem to be a clear edge for the Packers.

Except for one thing: Green Bay also has one of the worst offensive lines in the history of the NFL, especially with left tackle Chad Clifton out injured. With the pressure coming from one of the NFL’s premier front-fours, Aaron Rodgers may be lucky to survive, much less thrive.

Packers rush offense vs. Vikings rush defense: Huge advantage, Minnesota

The front four of the Vikings is even more stout against the run, than they are rushing the passer, with two of their three Pro Bowl players getting that recognition for run-stuffing.

This team led the league in rush defense over the past two seasons, and are facing an offense that has struggled to run the ball primarily because of the poor offensive line play.

Vikings pass offense vs. Packers pass defense: Huge advantage, Green Bay

The Packers boast three Pro Bowl players in the secondary and have forced more turnovers than any team but the New Orleans Saints; with one fewer game played.

The player they are facing is well-known to them, and also a prodigious turnover machine, committing more of them than anyone in the history of the game.

Green Bay’s pass rush is also much-improved over last season, with its return to health and the implementation of the 3-4 defense wreaking more havoc on pass protections.

While the Vikings line is solid, it will struggle in this department unless the Vikings run the ball so well, as to keep the defense from being able to effectively pass rush.

Vikings rush offense vs. Packers rush defense: Huge advantage, Minnesota

Unfortunately for the Packers, the Vikings will run the ball well. Adrian Peterson makes even the best defenses look pedestrian, and his power running style attacks the 3-4 defense better than most.

While the Packers have improved enough in this department to be in the middle of the league, the Vikings may be the best running team around, making this an extreme mismatch.

Special Teams: Advantage, Packers

Green Bay is struggling in this department, with Mason Crosby playing inconsistent, and coverage and return units being unspectacular. Punting has been better than expected, but nothing to lay ones hopes on.

But the Vikings are the worst team in the league in covering punts.

Last year, they gave up two touchdown returns in one game against the New Orleans Saints, and one each in the two games against Green Bay. They already have given up big returns this year.

Their kick coverage is mediocre-at-best, and their return games no better. They do have a reliable kicker, but he isn’t good at 50-plus yards or on kickoffs, and their punting game is only above average.

Intangibles: Advantage, Green Bay

The pressure is on the Vikings to win this one. If they lose, the Packers will be unbeaten in the division and own the tie-break over the Vikings, with Minnesota having to win in Green Bay to even things up.

The Packers are expected to lose, making this like playing with house money.

Also, Brad Childress is on the hot seat and Mike McCarthy is not; Mac is 5-1 against his rival counterpart. The Traitor will likely try to win this game on every play, bringing out his worst.

Prediction: 27-16 Vikings

The game will just not be in enough jeopardy to count on The Traitor losing it for Minnesota. The Packers will struggle to do anything offensively to make this one in doubt in the fourth quarter.

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Packers-Vikings: My Q+A With Examiner Joe Oberle

For the Packers’ week four game against the Minnesota Vikings, I did a Q+A with Examiner Joe Oberle.  These are his responses to my questions on the Vikings.  You can see my responses to his questions by clicking here.

Mark Strotman: What has the transition been like in going from hating Brett Favre for the last 17 years to embracing him as your team leader? Is it still as weird to see him in purple as it is for me?

Joe Oberle: The first time I saw him Brett Favre in a Vikings’ purple uniform during preseason, I laughed at the almost surreal nature of it. It really looked strange because he truly was the face of that team to all us Vikings fans. It has taken some getting used to, but is happening sooner than I expected, and I think it is because he is seems to be emerging as the team leader.

It is his personality and love for the game that is coming through with his teammates and also with the fans. Personally, I never hated him. I didn’t like the Packers, but I always respected Favre for the way he played the game–all out and with a genuine love for it. I always wanted the Vikings to squelch his joy, but I thought he was great for the game and a great rival. He single-handedly took this rivalry to new heights, and this season, he is doing it again.

MS: When the Packers offense takes the field, it will really mark the first good passing team the Vikings have gone up against this season after facing Brady Quinn, Matt Stafford, and Shaun Hill. The run defense is outstanding, but has the loss of Darren Sharper hurt the pass defense a considerable amount?

JO: I don’t think so. As you have noted, the pass defense hasn’t been tested all that much because the Vikings’ first three opponents have attacked the Minnesota run defense to help keep the pressure off their quarterbacks. Sharper was great while he was here, but he seemed to have lost a step–and it really showed during last season’s playoff game. It was time for some new blood in the secondary; it may come at the loss of some experience, but I think they Vikings will gain in terms of speed and ability.

MS: For the first two weeks of the season you were able to run the ball with ease against both the 3-4 defense in Cleveland and a 4-3 scheme in Detroit. From what you could see, which seemed to be easier for AP to run against: the 3-4 with quicker athletes or the 4-3 with bigger bodies to clog up the line?

JO: That’s a good question, and it is one that I think will play out all season as Peterson and the offense will face a variety of those two types of defensive schemes. Speaking statistically, AP rushed for more yards against Cleveland’s 3-4, but I think that may be the better defense for him to run against—if they play it straight and don’t cram the box with eight or nine defenders. If he can get past the first line of defense, his speed and agility come more into play, not to mention his size and speed with some linebackers and defensive backs. If you clog the middle on him at the line and slow him down there, he has less change to break free into the open field to do what he does best.

MS: The Vikings now use a form of the Wildcat because of their specialty man Percy Harvin. I have never been a fan of the Wildcat, but how has it worked so far with two of the game’s fastest players in the backfield (Harvin and Peterson). Do you see it being a factor against the Packers or more of an “every now and then” play?

JO: We have only seen it on a limited basis for the Vikings, and head coach Brad Childress, who has long demonstrated a proclivity for the clandestine, may be either teasing opponents so they have one more thing to think about, or really sitting on it until he feels it’s ready to go. So far, at least in the Vikings version, I am not a fan either, mostly due to its lack of success.

For a team with a rookie running it and a new quarterback learning the rest of the system, it seems like right now there is a greater chance of something going really wrong with the Wildcat than having it really surprising someone. I am for keeping under wraps until you really know it’s going to work or else make it a bigger part of your offense (a la Miami) and really dedicate yourself to it. I am not sure they would be interested in doing the latter if it is going to put their $12 million dollar man on the bench.

MS: Staying on topic with Harvin, has he overtaken Bernard Berrian as the Vikings’ number one receiver? In Green Bay, Favre favored Donald Driver over Greg Jennings because Driver was more of a possession guy than a home run threat as Favre favored the short pass. Both Harvin and Sydney Rice have more often been targets than Berrian this season.

JO: For the time being, Harvin has emerged as Favre’s favorite target, connecting on two (what we like to call) “Farvins”—a Favre to Harvin TD pass. The Vikings offense has been seemingly designed to go underneath quite a bit this season, as Favre continues to acclimate himself to the offense and his new receivers. It has worked well so far, as he is league leader in completion percentage. In addition, Berrian missed all of the preseason with a hamstring injury and is working his way back into the lineup.

Once he is at full strength, I think you will see Favre take more shots downfield. To be honest, I am surprised Favre hasn’t connected more with Visanthe Shiancoe, as No. 4 made a career out of hitting his tight ends in Green Bay.

MS: The Packers huge weakness this season has been the offensive line, while the Vikings biggest strength on defense is their defensive line. Do you think the Vikings will be able to rush just four linemen effectively so they are able to drop seven back in coverage? Because of your secondary, will this be a key factor in stopping Green Bay’s passing game?

JO: If I were drawing it up, I would certainly try it. Aaron Rodgers is arguably Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier’s biggest concern, and if you can put pressure on the Rodgers with the four lineman augmented by a few blitzes, it would seem to attack the Packers at the weakness. But with this game, as with many in the past, I think you can throw records, expectations and plans out the window, as emotion will take over the game and it could be pretty wild.

There will be so much hype coming into this game that any number of things could happen. That said, I believe the team that controls their emotions the best will come out on top—and I am not yet sure who that is going to be.

 

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The Green Bay Fog: There’s No Fool Like an Old Fool

On October 10th, Brett Favre will turn 40 years old. In the grand scheme, Favre is still a young man since 40 is the new 30 or some nonsense like that.

In football years, Favre is an old dog up to his old tricks. Just ask the 49ers, who watched the old dog snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat in week three.

The roller coaster ride that has been Brett Favre’s career the last few years makes me believe the old adage that there is no fool like an old fool. Unable to make a decision, making decisions out of spite and somehow getting what he wanted all seem to be results of the numerous blows to the head he has taken over his career.

Now Favre is about to lead his new team, the Minnesota Vikings, into a grudge match with his old team, the Green Bay Packers for a made for TV event next Monday night.

The Green Packers, with coach Mike McCarthy and QB Aaron Rodgers, have seemed to be in a fog so far this season. Four INTs by Jay Cutler helped them win their opener. The Bengals scored 31 points on them in a week two loss and a game against the Rams is good for any team lost in a fog.

The fog will lift on Monday in Minnesota. The Packers will finally play their old player who has been gunning for them ever since they had the nerve to believe that he wanted to retire. 

Both Favre and the Packers moved on. Favre went 9-7 in New York and the Packers went 6-10 thanks to a bad defense last year. Favre has been learning his role with the Vikings and gone 3-0 during that process. The Packers rode through the fog to be 2-1 for this game.

Al Harris and Charles Woodson are both looking forward to Monday Night. They are ball hawks who must be dreaming about picking off Favre. Aaron Campman is probably dreaming about a three sack game. Defensive coach Dom Capers is probably dreaming about shutting down Adrian Peterson and making Favre have to beat them.

All of Green Bay is dreaming of a W.

Brett Favre is dreaming about taking his old team to the woodshed.

The game being in Minnesota is a factor but these two teams have played each other so often that the notion of home field advantage is overrated. The first quarter will be big for both teams. You can’t win the game in the first quarter but you can sure lose it.

This should be a classic NFL Monday Night game and I am going with the Packers. They will make the Vikings one dimensional and Al Harris, Charles Woodson, and Aaron Campman will all have their dreams come true.

The old fool has what he wants and let the bitterness begin when the storybook ending eludes him the first time around.

It will get even worse the second time around when he goes to Green Bay.

Packers 26

Vikings 17

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NFL Week 1: Fantasy Football Game of the Week

With Week One of the NFL season upon us, it is once again time for the Bruno Boys to pick a Game of the Week, with a fantasy football twist. Each week we will choose one NFL game that we feel will have a lot of impact on the fantasy football world.

This week we will head to Lambeau Field, where the Green Bay Packers will host the Chicago Bears in a NFC North division battle. With the addition of Jay Cutler at quarterback in Chicago, this game will feature two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL.

It also features some very good running backs and a couple of very nice receiving options. Boy, gone are the days when the NFC North (or NFC Central) was referred to as the “black and blue” division and featured fearsome defenses like the “Monsters of the Midway” and the “Purple People Eaters.” It is now becoming a hotbed for some of the better offensive stars in the game.

It all begins with the quarterbacks this week. In his first season as the Packers’ starting quarterback in 2008, Aaron Rodgers passed for 4,038 yards with 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He quickly became the leader of the Packers offense, and we look for him to continue to improve this season. Rodgers is a must-start QB1 in all formats this week and we have him as the No. 5-ranked quarterback this week.

Jay Cutler enters his first season in Chicago coming off a Pro-Bowl season in Denver last year when he had 4,526 passing yards with 25 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Cutler is also a must-start QB1 option this week as he is our No. 9-ranked quarterback.

Both the Bears and Packers also have prolific running backs on their teams. The Bears will feature second-year man Matt Forte, who had 1,715 total yards from scrimmage and 12 total touchdowns as a rookie in 2008. He is a RB1 option this week and he is our No. 10-ranked running back.

The Packers will feature Ryan Grant, who—after missing most of training camp in 2008—spent a good portion of the year dealing with nagging injuries. He still managed 1,203 yards rushing with five total touchdowns. Healthy, and with a full training camp under his belt, we expect Grant to improve on last season’s totals. Consider him a solid RB2 this week as we have him as the No. 15-ranked running back.

This game will also feature some very good receiving options. Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target will be Greg Jennings, who had 80 catches last season for 1,292 yards with nine touchdowns. He has improved on his reception and yardage totals in each of his first three seasons. Jennings is a must-start WR1 this week, and our No. 7-ranked wide receiver.

The Bears return both of their leading pass catchers from 2008, but neither were wide receivers. Jay Cutler’s top option in the passing game will likely be tight end Greg Olsen, who had 54 catches for 574 yards with five touchdowns in 2008. Olsen is heading into his third NFL season and could be in for his biggest statistical season yet. He is our No. 4-ranked tight end this week and will likely be a must-start on a weekly basis. The leading pass-catcher in terms of receptions last season was Matt Forte, who had 63.

The Bears and Packers both feature solid kickers in Robbie Gould and Mason Crosby respectively. Either kicker would be a worthy fantasy starter this week and they both ranked in the top-ten in our preseason rankings.

Both teams have respectable D/ST units, but in a game that should have a lot of points being scored, you may want to keep them on your bench if possible.

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Just Sayin’ — Favre Finger Discount

Why So Serious, Brett?

Favre plays The Joker.

Let me start this week’s column by saying, my views do not necessarily reflect the views of  Top Fantasy Football.

There are three things I’m sick of hearing, seeing, and reading about lately; President Obama’s healthcare scare, Michael Vick’s redemption, and Brett Favre’s un-retirement.

One is too inexperienced to do the job, the other is too unrepentant to deserve the job, and the other is a cheesehead in Barney’s clothing who shouldn’t have been looking for a job to begin with. Before this season is all over I suspect Favre will beat the purple machine black and blue.

Don’t misunderstand me. I have no quarrel with Favre’s retirement dance.

If he wants to tarnish his career and go out with a thud and whimper rather than the grace, poise and bang he could have, well, he’s earned that right.

My issue is with how Favre has deserted his faithful Packer fans. I don’t think any true fan begrudges his desire to play on. But consorting with the enemy? Taking up arms with the Vikings? This is the ultimate insult to Green Bay and their misplaced loyalty in Brett.

He’s given them the Favre finger discount. He’s discounted their support, he’s discounted his allegiance to the green and cheddar, and ultimately, he’s discounted his legend and all he stood for in Wisconsin and to the NFL.

Playing for the Jets was one thing, but there is no worse team Favre could have suited up for that could have hurt Packers fans more. And that’s just not the Favre America has admired all these years.

Brett you wept openly at your retirement from your beloved Packers, were those merely crocodile tears? You’re nearly 40, you have a torn rotator cuff, just what are you trying to prove? Is the call of the spotlight that compelling?

You have the heart of a giant, but nowhere is it present in this recent un-retirement folly. And Packers fans are not alone in this feeling that you do not belong in Viking purple.

Now the Favre story has taken on a new twist.

Apparently not all of the Vikings want the Packers’ Judas in their clubhouse, leading their team. This is exactly the kind of distraction, as if the Favre circus wasn’t already a monumental drain on the team’s focus, the team doesn’t need.

Who knows how much validity these rumors have, and I’m not here to fan those flames. In my opinion Favre doesn’t belong  in Minnesota regardless.

He’s not the same talent he was even three years ago, and the Vikings should be focusing on the future, not a one season dog and pony show. If Favre doesn’t take the Vikes to the promised land this season, Brad Childress may join the ranks of the unemployed.

Favre is turning his Hall of Fame career into a shameful shadow of his once great image and body of work.

Favre will take the field this coming Monday for a full two quarters (according to the team) in the Vikings third preseason game at Houston, and it will be a hard sight for me and many other football fans around the nation. Favre is a Packer.

We can forgive his Jets dalliance as a mid-life crisis. He clearly did not play in New York with a full heart.

But if he takes the field in the regular season as a Viking, I for one cannot forgive such betrayal.

Stop this silliness now Brett, for the sake of your fans, if not your legacy. Your faithful supporters deserve better. Green Bay deserves better. Hell, even Tarvaris Jackson deserves better. Just sayin’.

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Brett Favre’s a Viking, Stunning

I am being facetious with that headline, of course, though I am absolutely stunned by the reaction to Brett Favre’s signing with the Vikings.

Why all of the hating?!

Oh my gosh, Favre turned his back on the Green Bay Packers! Sorry, Packers fans, no he didn’t; Ted Thompson made it perfectly clear that the Packers wanted to move on to the Aaron Rodgers era, despite Favre’s wishes. And by your tacit approval and support of Rodgers, you all moved on as well.

You didn’t move on? Did you show any outrage over Thompson’s handling of the whole Favre affair? Did you stop going to games? Nope.  Guess what then, you moved on! 

Was I thrilled watching Favre vacillate back and forth on his decisions to play or retire over the last two years?

No, of course not, but it’s his decision, made much more difficult by you and Thompson who made it pretty clear that Favre was considered old baggage and no longer wanted.

The Packers turned their backs on Brett Favre well before he reciprocated.

Why did he have to be so secretive?! Are you kidding me?

He’s in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, not LA or Miami. He can’t blend into the scenery, he is the scenery! Any time Favre burped, you had two reporters who told you what he had eaten.

How come it’s okay for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to sneak off in order to avoid paparazzi, but when Favre does it, it’s a major crime? Wake up people, your rampant desire to know all and learn all about Favre, is the reason he has to do what he does.

He skipped training camp and screwed the other quarterbacks who were working so hard!  Wow, and that’s the first time a major veteran has skipped training camp, right? Ever heard of Michael Strahan or other guys who were in “contract negotiations” and didn’t go to camp? 

This was all by design; why would Favre want to go through two a days just for kicks? Sure, he could have used the time bonding with his new teammates, but it looks like he did plenty of bonding already based on all the emails, texts, tweets, and voicemails his hopeful Viking teammates sent him, begging him to join them in Minnesota.

I feel a little bad for Tavaris and Sage, but guess what, play like a Hall-of-Famer and maybe your teammates will give a little more respect.

All in all, this is a story of supply and demand.

The Vikings needed an experienced veteran quarterback and Favre needed the opportunity to stick it to Ted Thompson. Both sides got what they wanted.

Was it worth it?

We’ll see, but Vegas improved the Vikings odds of winning the Super Bowl from 18-1 to 12-1 and the Vikings sold 3,000 additional season tickets on Day 1 of the Brett Favre era.

Sounds pretty good to me.

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