Archive for the NFC North Category


Brad Childress On Brett Favre’s Groin: What Was He Thinking?

Brad Childress came under a bit of fire in Week Eight as it was revealed that Vikings QB Brett Favre had played through a groin injury while leading his team to victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

Favre was  listed on the injury report, as probable, with a hip injury but “groin” was nowhere to be seen in the report and it is against league rules for any athlete injury to be hidden, possibly keeping the other team at a competitive disadvantage.

Nothing to worry about here, as witnessed by Brad Childress’ hilarious press conference .

Yes, you heard correctly. The man who also spent last week deciding to “motivate” his team by dressing like a flight attendant also uttered the words “rub it” while talking about Brett Favre’s groin.

What is Brad Childress thinking?! I know…

10) Think Green Bay felt like a jilted lover before…

9) I haven’t been asked this much about another man’s groin since dinner with Jeff Garcia.

8) Why hasn’t anyone mentioned my haircut?

7) Aww crap, those boys from Coors Light are going to have a field day with this!

6) I missed that day in health class, what DO you do with a groin?

5) Hey, a text from my agent, Vivid Video is looking for a spokesman!

4) Why does Jared Allen keep asking if I still have that flight attendant outfit?

3) Next team bonding session…TWISTER!

2) Hmm, I wonder why Sage Rosenfels is crying over in the corner?

AND THE No. 1 THING BRAD CHILDRESS WAS THINKING…

1) Why won’t John Madden stop calling me!

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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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Tuesday Moring Running Back Week Eight: Return of the Lambeau Legend

It was a sight we thought we’d never see. It felt like hell had frozen over and Santa Claus had suddenly converted to satanism.

There was Brett Favre, the man responsible for the reversal of fortune of the Green Bay Packer franchise, running on to the field in the putrid purple of the hated Minnesota Vikings.

Surprisingly, he was met with a chorus of boos.

On one hand I can understand that. I would feel jilted too if I ever saw David Ortiz come back to Boston in a Yankee uniform.

However, this man did make the Packers a force to be reckoned with again after so many appalling years under such luminaries as Anthony Dilweg and Don Majkowski.

But as always, sports fans are entitled to feel what they wish about whoever they want.

So amid a smattering of boos and cheers, Favre was intent to prove he still could competently quarterback a team at his advanced age.

When it was over, Favre had thrown for 244 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-26 victory.

Even when it appeared the Packers would rally in the third quarter, Favre never let his guard down and was able to count on the reliable footwork of Percy Harvin, who is quickly becoming a candidate for rookie of the year.

So in essence, while Green Bay fans have the right to feel betrayed, they have to admit that their one time hero still can adequately run an offense.

Now, heading into the bye week at 7-1, the Vikings stand atop the NFC as the team to beat.

Elsewhere in week eight action.

• You’ve got to feel bad for the Giants. It isn’t often that a team goes from first to third place in the course of a day.

• I don’t think there’s a more dynamic wideout in the NFL right now than DeSean Jackson. His big touchdown catch literally knocked the wind out of the Giants sails.

• Sooner of later you knew the Broncos were gong to crumble for at least one game. The Ravens desperately needed a victory to keep pace with the Bengals and they not only won, they made a statement.

• Maybe Rex Ryan was half right when he said he felt like the Jets outplayed the Dolphins. It certainly appeared that way on offense. But on special teams, Ted Ginn, Jr. obliterated the Jets in taking two kicks to the house. That my friends was the difference.

• Even though Peyton Manning was out of sync with his passes, Joseph Addai proved that not only can he throw, but he can do it left-handed. An equally sloppy 49er defense helped the Colts escape defeat.

• Vince Young may have given the Titans a shot of confidence in leading them to a win, but it was Chris Johnson who was the difference maker as he rushed for a franchise record 228 yards.

Tony Romo proved that he isn’t afraid to use all of his targets by connecting with three of his receivers for touchdowns to beat the Seahawks. The win also moved Dallas into a tie for first with the Eagles in the NFC East.

• On most Sundays, the Panthers have trouble holding onto the ball, as Jake Delhomme currently leads the NFL in interceptions. But this Sunday, a savvy Panther defense forced Kurt Warner into throwing five interceptions of his own in a surprising win over Arizona.

• Even though Owen Daniels is done for the year, the Texans learned that they can exploit a power running game for the rest of the season. Backup RB Ryan Moats stepped in for Steve Slaton and scored a team record three rushing touchdowns in one game.

• The Chargers used the reliable LaDainian Tomlinson and the tenacious defense of Shawne Merriman to defeat the Raiders for the the 13th straight time.

• Isn’t it interesting that more and more reports about Tom Cable being an abusive person are now coming out of the woodwork. While I personally think his former lovers are beating a dead horse into the ground, I find it odd that they waited this long to come forward.

• So much for Derek Anderson being the guy to snap the Browns out of their funk.

• Sometimes I think Rodney Harrison likes to hear himself talk. He suggested Eric Mangini cut Derek Anderson to send a message to his team. Uh, Rodney, a lot more people need to be fired or released before the Browns can ever think about turning it around.

• All you need to know about the Rams/Lions game, a game I affectionately called the Toilet Bowl, is that the Rams James Butler intercepted a pass and forgot to take it out of the end zone. Congratulations to Steve Spagnuolo on his first NFL coaching victory, I think.

• The Falcons gave it a good effort against the Saints last night, but maybe they could have won if Michael Jenkins didn’t drop an easy pass in the red zone in the third quarter.

• Next week we got a couple of key divisional showdowns with the Dolphins at the Patriots and the Giants at the Eagles. See you next Tuesday for the analysis.

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Brett Favre Still on Top: The Packers Not So Much

At the risk of contradicting myself, I must say the Pack is not as good as I thought.

Still very much in the hunt at 4-3, they looked like a team struggling to survive this past Sunday.

Despite another decent game from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, 287 yards and three TDs, the defense and the offensive line looked horrible and ultimately lost this one.

The defense fell flat, not only allowing Adrian Peterson to rack up 97 yards and a TD, but let Brett Favre all but destroy them with 244 yards and four TDs.

The odds were in the Packs’ favor on a night that one, marked the first time, and probably the last time ever Favre has played in Lambeau Field since the 2007 season and first ever as the opposing quarterback, and two, he not only faced a jacked up Packers team, but for the first time the fans that adored him for 16 seasons.

As he jogged out to the huddle for the first time, he heard something he has never heard in this stadium.

As the boos surrounded Favre, he met them head on with that same country-boy grin he gave for so many years playing here, and began once again to pick apart this secondary.

I think it is safe to say the Vikings are just flat-out better than the Pack.

I mean Favre alone has torched them in two games for 515 yards and seven TDs.

Of course Rodgers has put up phenomenal numbers as well, with 671 yards and five TDs, but it’s not been his fault that he’s been sacked 14 times between the two games and the Pack has run for no touchdowns.

It’s not his fault this defense has allowed 685 total offensive yards and 68 points in the two contests.

The Pack failed miserably in what was needed to be done to stop the Favre/AP train. There was virtually no pressure applied by the defense and the O-line again was unable to protect Rodgers.

If they do not cure their problems, missing the playoffs could be the least of their worries. With Rodgers having injuries to both feet, I’m not sure he can take much more punishment.

For all who still want to pile on Favre for his performance last week, don’t.

First of all Favre was blindsided on the fumble, because Phil Loadholt could not hold his block. Steve Hutchinson was running alongside Favre in pursuit of Lamar Woodley, the linebacker for Pittsburgh who recovered the fumble, and made a poor effort in an attempt to tackle Woodley, same as Favre.

Favre only gave up on the play after he was blocked and then realized there were three other Vikes there to make the play. Anthony Herrera was in position to make a stop, but was blocked as well. No one called Loadholt’s, Hutchinson’s, or Herrera’s intentions into question.

Secondly a little screen pass that was intercepted, that for some reason Chester Taylor was unable to hang on to even though it hit him right in the hands, is not Favre’s fault.

Again, Favre’s intentions with the team have been called into question in the pursuit of the defender when he again supposedly gave up on the play.

For someone’s intentions to be called into question after he has done everything he has been asked to do is ludicrous.

Favre has played second fiddle to AP, has been smart with the ball, only three interceptions after eight games, and has fought the urge to force plays and make risky decisions. This does not sound like a guy who is out for himself.

As far as not giving the extra effort, I do believe it was old number four who ran 50 yards to throw a crucial block on a 49ers linebacker with no regard for himself.

What more does he have to prove?

Nothing.

The man can mash.

With the Vikings at 7-1, they are at most five wins from making the playoffs with eight games left.

The Packers are 4-3 now, but very much still in contention. With another game against the Lions and one against the Bears, plus games against the Buccaneers and Seahawks they can definitely clinch second place in the division and still have a good chance at a wild card spot even if the Vikings were to win out the season.

Let’s not forget, no offense to Favre, but the Vikings are two to three games away from Favre’s annual end of season slump. Unless he avoids it, this could turn into a battle for the division.

In a season where I’ve had to stomach my favorite player demolishing my favorite team and have had to show respect for my team’s rival because of Favre and two early season stompings, anything is possible.

Lastly to all you Favre bashers:

If there is one thing I’ve learned during the past 18 seasons, Favre thrives on adversity. So go ahead heckle, boo, and bash all you want. You might just boo Favre right into the Superbowl.

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Favre Returns to Lambeau In Triumphant Fashion

To my surprise, Brett Favre returned to Lambeau Field on Sunday to an overwhelming amount of boos. You heard a few claps here and there, but it sounded more like a WWE event than it did an NFL game.

Needless to say, Favre was the villain. And after laughing off the boos, and even a few middle fingers, the villain won.

The Packers are now 0-2 against their rivals in purple this season due in large part to the man who brought their franchise back to the top in the mid-90s.

None of this should be put on the shoulders of Aaron Rodgers. Simply put, he’s been great and has proven he’s got a great future in this league. It’s the rest of his team that needs to start pulling its weight. Especially against more formidable opponents.

It still seems the Packers defense has a ton of holes in it. It has looked good against weak opponents and horrible against good ones.

The Vikings now have a powerful grip on the NFC North and unless they collapse like Favre’s Jets did last season, an easy road to the postseason lies ahead.

Favre definitely deserves kudos from the entire NFL. Even the die-hard Packer fans. He came into Green Bay under enormous pressure, threw four touchdowns and led his team to a huge victory. All at the age of 40.

Simply unbelievable, and there’s no other way to put it.

Going into the season I was a Brett Favre critic. I thought he acted like a diva with the whole Packers situation. I still think he did.

Bu I stand corrected regarding his ability. I saw him being just another average quarterback in the NFL. Another Chad Pennington or Matt Hasselbeck.

I was way off.

As good as Favre has been, you can’t forget the fact that Minnesota was already one of the better teams in the NFC before the quarterback addition. They went to the playoffs last season.

I’m not ready to climb aboard the Favre bandwagon just yet, but I’m definitely checking out the brochure.

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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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Hostility No Surprise, but Favre Deserves Better

This was never anticipated, a disgruntled crowd that isn’t impatient greeting Brett Favre with heartwarming receptions when making a grand entrance by storming out the visitors’ tunnel. Today, animus natives of the Green Bay Packers fail anointing an unprecedented legend who procured loyalty.

Some feel betrayed, assessing an ultimate sense for rationalizing Favre’s impulsive transition. On a day, his popularity may have unraveled in an unwelcomed return to Lambeau Field, a hostile environment where weariness of un-retiring comebacks became battered and misleading, finally forcing general manager Ted Thompson to appoint an actual timetable for Favre to make up his damn mind.

In the midst of an everlasting saga, Thompson literally was bothered and emotionally pondered refusing to allow Favre to join archrivals the Minnesota Vikings.

It explains why it wasn’t urgent, getting rid of the prolific quarterback ending a long-lasting saga just to keep away the beloved superstar before trading the two-time MVP to the New York Jets, where he struggled in a horrific season and underperformed. Shortly after, Favre deliberated on whether he should retire or un-retire, but instead opted to return again.

Throughout, it has been puzzling guessing on a specific retirement date, but a date doesn’t matter. What matters is, he can persist on fulfilling zest or revenge if he firmly returned to confirm to the world that he could still has a powerful arm, specifically for executing a monstrous drive.   

For the most part, the epicenter of football seems to be Favre, whether it’s retiring, coming back, playing for his former team’s archenemies or seeking revenge against the long-time franchise he committed much of his livelihood to.

But if there’s hoopla referring to Favre, nonessential hype formulates and hijacks our minds inspiring us to watch the future Hall of Famer seek vengeance on his former executives and teammates.

Living in an age when sports is base on politics, much of the Favre debates are base on politics. For instance, there are fans in Cheesehead territory who still adores his audacity and enthusiasm to toss passes, still playing as if he’s a raw athlete barely establishing into a legitimate legend, while there are some who still holds grudges.     

On this particular day, Packers fans went berserk, badly booing an old-timer who has amused an entire state. To have much hostility against Favre is pathetic, when he stirred the Packers to playoff berths and two Super Bowls. True, they were held hostage, ready to move forward with Aaron Rodgers, who patiently waited in the wings to earn his dream job as the starting quarterback.

After he was promised the starting job, the Packers were strictly committed to Rodgers and shut the doors on Favre. Because I believe he came back for vengeance, he still deserved a better reception other than a bitter one he received. Although we all saw this coming, belittling, harassing and deriding their long-time leader was erroneous.

At least taking a brief moment to honor a veteran with much ego and selfishness was a common way to pay tribute to a veteran that installed a winning atmosphere. Instead, Cheesehead maniacs are acting as true Packers fans, and against anyone who signs to play for their archrivals.

But betraying Favre is a misconception, and weird to visualize when it seem he only departed yesterday, traveling to the Vikings. Brad Childress, the coach of the Vikings, was desperate enough accepting the embattled quarterback, to fix deficiencies that greatly were a complication hindering prosperity on their fragile offense.

A hostile crowd booed loudly, at Lambeau Field. When he arrived, touting out the tunnel they booed, when he warmed up they booed, when he entered to take his first snap they booed, and when called signals from the line of scrimmage, they booed.

He was badly insulted and wasn’t praised for signifying grace or dignity on a franchise that signified greatness and yearly rituals when football season approached. Even if his wishy-washy and selfish demeanor is perceived differently, still he deserved credit, but it will never happen as long as he’s a Viking.

Yes, his legacy will live on at Green Bay, but it might never be the same, an oddity difficult to keep from degenerated for signing with division rivals and enhancing their probability of dominating the division. His presence is the difference maker in their 7-1 record, including their perfect 2-0 in a two-game sweep putting them in good position of topping the Packers.

Just from the rebellious and out of class receptions, is proof that loyal fans are very distraught with the ex-Packer and believes he’s a traitor, refusing to stay true to an organization that strongly hates the Vikings.

Whether most angry fans are haters or critics just waiting to lambaste Favre, either way, that is, it could be a sign of envy of their legend departing to play for another season. But furious aren’t still over the remarks Favre made publicly weeks ago, when he admittedly pronounced the Vikings are the most talented team.

Yes, those remarks right there are enough to upset a large crowd committed to embracing the Cheeseheads. Sometimes, real football geniuses sit wondering if Thompson gave up on Favre prematurely turning to Rodgers. Or sometimes, real Packers fans may agree with Thompson’s decision.

By hearing the warm receptions when Rodgers arrived, gives us the assumption barbaric fans are content with the up-and-coming gunslinger, lasting in a quarterback duel in each meeting against Favre.

Even though he denies vengeance, two victories against his former team at 40 is making a statement. He hasn’t played efficient in a long time, unless you are wise enough to include two years ago when he could’ve retired on top after leading the Packers to the NFC Championship Game, but unfortunately came up short.

Let’s not fail realizing that we are entitled to make any chooses in our lives, meaning Favre is allowed to sign with any team. In the offseason, he singed with the Vikings, making a bold choice and ruined the way people recognize or evaluate him as a person base on his decisions. He’s not necessarily a villain for signing with the Vikings, but I will honestly say his legacy lives on.

Once again, he led the Vikings to a large margin victory, sending the fans to the exits early disappointing to witness a 38-26 victory in a Sunday matinee. Notice Favre is more productive in the passing game if surrounded by an active supporting cast. A plethora of dangerous options offensively is huge for a veteran at Favre’s age, to whereas he isn’t force to implement a laborious task.

There’s no questions Adrian Peterson is a game-changing receiver and likely is the fastest man in the league. Maybe it’s in the cleats or shoes. Take a glance at his shoe collection. Maybe it makes him really explosive.

Meanwhile, in Favre’s emotional return, he dazzled and captivated us by completing 17 of 28 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. Unlike last season, he’s careful with the football and avoids sacks, when he scrambles away from rushing defenders to finish on mind-blowing throws.

Face it, Favre’s Vikings is to powerful to stop in the NFC North, mustering consistent drives in his old stadium and shattered angry hearts. Critics and fans need to cut down on the hostility, and praise the savvy old timer for his work ethic and ability to dominant the game he’s truly passionate in.

Leading a franchise for 16 years signified longevity that isn’t replaceable. But now, he’s portrayed as a villain, wearing a purple helmet and jersey as No. 4 still remains the same, since an ugly departure in Green Bay where tailgate parties reside, where Lambeau leaps originated and where Favre will always be a legend, despite an unhappy town that should be courteous enough to praise him.

After leaving behind memorabilia it’s worth remembering a life-long legend eternally, instead of booing.

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Favreageddon: A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity We Get to Witness

There are few momentous sporting events that take place in our lifetime that we have the privilege to witness firsthand.

The Miami Dolphins completing their perfect season of 1972.

Mark McGwire and then Barry Bonds breaking the single season home run record (before we knew how they were able to).

Pretty much everything Michael Jordan ever did (except for his hall of fame speech).

This Sunday will see another of those as the Brett Favre, once the face and forever legend of the Green Bay Packers, returns to play his former team as a member of their most hated rival.

The events and backstories behind the scenes of this matchup are enough to create a Broadway show. Despite all that has been accomplished between Favre and the Pack, there are feelings of bitterness and resentment, as well as words being thrown back and forth then dismissed as out of context.

When asked about Favre’s motivation to come back, he gave the old political answer of just wanting to play and win a Super Bowl, but when a reporter asked why not just come back with the Jets, Favre didn’t have an excuse lined up, and merely said that it’s over with and to move on.

Now the teams have already played once this year, but in Minnesota. The Vikings stymied the Packers for a win, but Aaron Rodgers refused to go down without swinging. Even after being sacked and intercepted multiple times, he kept firing away. Maybe it’s a good thing these teams have played once already but not in Green Bay.

The feelings of Brett Favre’s return were at first mixed, but now after seeing him beat the Packers in a Vikings jersey, it is unanimous. And there is the burned and destroyed Favre memoribilia to prove it.

The team, organization, whole city and state, and Packer fans across the world are huddled for this game, an almost war if you will. The Vikings are in first place and up by two games. The Packers and specifically Aaron Rodgers NEED to win this game if nothing more than to justify the business move of not catering to Favre’s diva wishes to come back before training camp in 2008.

I think the pressure is more on the Packers than on Favre. Winning this game may be, er who am I kidding, IS more important than winning the Super Bowl, at least this year. Even if the Pack don’t make the playoffs and the Vikings win the Super Bowl, they could always brag that Favre couldn’t get it done IN Green Bay. But what if he does?

What if Brett Favre comes into the stadium he was worshipped in, wearing a Vikings jersey, throws for 300 yards, 4 touchdowns, does one of his celebratory knock down of players in an attempt to seem like he’s still young and cool, not to mention tries to throw a block on a Packers defender? Well, that isn’t as much of an issue if he is unable to beat the Packers IN Green Bay?

But how would the fans react? Unhappy is the least descriptive word. Can we expect beer bottles thrown onto the field ala the Cleveland Browns in 2001 on an unpopular call by the officials? What if it snows, and we could see snow balls hurled to the ground like in Giants Stadium back in 1995 (against the Chargers of all teams)?

However, one has to wonder, is this what Favre wanted all along? Even though we heard the almost as redundant statement “I’ve never taken steroids” that he was not interested in coming back again, the evidence tells a different story.

He booked several hotel rooms for this game back when he was still “retired.” He convinced the Jets to release him, which was the only way he’d get to play for any team in the NFC North (part of the clauses in the trade to the Jets).

Instead of signing with Minnesota right away, he manipulated the media as he has been doing into hyping it up. Then, waiting until after the Vikings actually play a preseason game, he decides to play for them. Therefore, other teams do not have as much time to study up on Favre as the Vikings quarterback and will not be as prepared for him.

Now other legendary players who left their original teams only to come back in another uniform have happened before. Alex Rodriguez was initially booed in Seattle with a Texas Rangers uniform on, but has since become an after thought. Mark Messier returned to New York as a member of the Canucks and was greeted with open arms. Michael Jordan, when he returned with the Washington Wizards, was not villified.

So why is this particular case of same guy, different shirt so emotionally different? Other than the whole reasoning of how this all happened (which really does play a hand in it), playing the position of quarterback in the NFL is different from any other position in any other sport.

What if John Elway came back to play in Denver wearing a Chiefs jersey? Or Peyton Manning playing in a Patriots jersey in Indianapolis?

I can only assume Favre will have extra security on hand. But since this is something he’s been planning since the summer of 2008, I’m sure he’s left no note unchecked.

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The Song Remains The Same For The NFL

As another Sunday approaches for the NFL, one cannot help but recall certain themes that have transpired thus far. The days of parity appear to not be in play this season. With the Rams, Lions, Chiefs, Redskins, Browns, Raiders, Titans, and Buccaneers all struggling, as well as the Dolphins, Seahawks, and Panthers all with just two wins as well, it has become a case of the have and have-nots. The list of have-nots may be the deepest in recent memory for the league. Will things change after the new collective bargaining agreement on the horizon?  That is one tune waiting to be composed.

Was anyone really shocked to see Brett Favre fumble then throw away the game for the Vikings last week? It was about time if you ask me. We are talking about the NFL’s All-Time Turnover King. No player has thrown away the ball more in history than Favre, and he is just three fumbles away from tying Warren Moon for the record of most fumbles ever. With 313 interceptions and 158 fumbles, and counting, the Steelers decided to just let Brett be Brett last week. When you do that, you will win more than lose to him. Just be ready for the inevitable mistake. With a career average of 1.7 turnovers for every game he has played, it is a sound strategy.

Watching Larry Johnson bubble over with frustration, you have to wonder what is the biggest deal is. Is it his homophobic remarks, his rant on his new head coach, or his bemoaning the loss of cash? Johnson, some may say, had his mind destroyed along with his body with all those carries several years ago. Some may recall former Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil calling his character into question once. Johnson, a coaches son, realizes his career is coming to an end and that he will never again command the salary he current makes. He stands to lose $600,000 this week, not exactly chump change. Though his comments were not politically correct, this still is America. Freedom of speech and expression is a right. Taking his money hurts, but watching his career end has to gouge him deeper. If he does latch on with another team next year, he will be a part time back with a pay rate showing such a role.

On with the picks. I am now sporting an unimpressive 60-27 record after going 9-4 last week. Let us see if I can do better.


Denver Broncos @ Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are approaching this game as a must win. They are at full health again with their offensive line, which will be critical in this match up. The Broncos have been, and is the surprise of the league so far with a perfect record. Both teams have had two weeks to prepare for this, so expect a hard hitting game.

Ravens
27   Broncos 21


Houston Texans @ Buffalo Bills

Houston is a team who appears to have found their groove on both sides of the ball, and could go on a winning streak if they are not sidetracked by injuries. Buffalo is a team still trying to find their identity.

Texans 34  Bills 17

Cleveland Browns @ Chicago Bears

Cleveland heads into the Windy City at a tumultuous time. Bears fans are unhappy with their teams inconsistent play on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Chicago expects a win over the lowly Browns, and Cleveland seems to have already packed it in for the season.

Bears 31  Browns 27

Seattle Seahawks @ Dallas Cowboys

Dallas came away with an impressive victory last week that was a much needed statement game as well. This game is critical in keeping the momentum going. Seattle is missing their best linebacker, and their best running back is dinged up. They will need to pass to win, which isn’t easy against the Cowboys cornerbacks.

Cowboys 38  Seahawks 27

Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets

Miami stopped the Jets winning ways just three weeks ago. After dropping another two games, the Jets won big last week. Miami came off their bye week by blowing a big lead to the Saints last week, Miami needs to run well to win, while the Jets are hurting in the middle of their defense especially. It should be another close game between these two rivals.

Jets 24  Miami 21

 

San Francisco 49ers @ Indianapolis Colts

The 49ers lost last week, but quarterback Alex Smith may have won the confidence of his teammates. The Colts are undefeated and getting healthy. Even if Smith repeats last week performance, it will be hard for the 49ers secondary to stop the Colts passing attack all game.

Colts 34  49ers 23

New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles

Though the Eagles won last week, they did not look much sharper than the team that lost to Oakland two weeks ago. The lack of running game has proven to be this teams Achilles heel for years, and it has been in the spotlight even more this year. The Giants realize they need to get back on track after two weeks of consecutive losses. Expect the Giants to pound the ball on the ground, while Philly tries to exploit a suspect Giants secondary.

Giants 23  Eagles 21


Saint Louis Rams @ Detroit Lions

It is too bad these teams cannot face each other more this season. They would win more if they did. Detroit appears ready to go with Culpepper at quarterback this week, and possibly the entire season. Though both teams have veteran quarterbacks, I expect this game to be won on the ground. Steven Jackson will carry the Rams to one of their few victories this week.

Rams 28  Lions 24


Oakland Raiders @ San Diego Chargers

The Raiders have been as inconsistent as their young quarterback JaMarcus Russell. After controlling the Eagles two weeks ago, they were pulverized by the Jets last week. The Chargers are as inconsistent, mostly due to an underachieving defense and banged up offensive line. If the Bolts do not get it going this week, they may never get anywhere this year.

Chargers 48  Raiders 24


Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans

The Titans are still without a win, and owner Bud Adams has ordered coach Jeff Fisher to start Vince Young at quarterback over veteran Kerry Collins. Though Fisher realizes the problem isn’t just at quarterback, expect him to comply. The Jaguars handed the Titans a 20 point loss a month ago. They did it by pounding the ball down the Titan’s throats all game. Expect a similar strategy, but something tells me Fisher has a plan this time.

Titans 23  Jaguars 17

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers

Game Of The Week

As I told you the first time these teams met a few weeks ago, this is the game to watch. Not only is it the return of a certain Hyckocrite to Lambeau Field for the first time as a visiting player, but both teams have developed their personalities more since the first meeting. The Packers have had trouble running the ball this year, even with Ryan Grant’s 148 yards versus Cleveland last week. The Vikings are excellent at stopping the run as well.

Expect the Packers to air it out against a depleted Vikings secondary, while the Vikings attack them with a balanced attack. Though the focus seems to be on quarterback in Minnesota, the main reason they win is by running the ball, controlling the clock and field position. This game will be a prime example of that, assuming their quarterback doesn’t cough up the ball and victory as he did last week.

Vikings 34   Packers 31

Carolina Panthers @ Arizona Cardinals

The Panthers have been a disappointment so far. Their passing attack is nearly non existent, and their running game is not at full strength with Jon Stewart battling injuries. The Cardinals are trying to find their running game still, but they realize how good their passing game is. If the Panthers do not get to Kurt Warner, the Cardinals may score often.

Cardinals 38  Panthers 17

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints

The Falcons are just not running the ball as well this season as opposed to last year. This causes their defense to stay on the field longer that they would like, and for their secondary to be exploited. The Saints are also trying to get their running game more consistent so they do not have to rely on Drew Brees arm so much. This is a game Brees can air it out to multiple receivers, while Atlanta will need to control the clock to keep that from happening.

Saints 41  Falcons 30

NFL Power Rankings

1. New Orleans Saints

2. Indianapolis Colts

3. Minnesota Vikings

4. Denver Broncos

5. New England Patriots

6. New York Giants

7. Cincinnati Bengals

8. Pittsburgh Steelers

9. Baltimore Ravens

10. Atlanta Falcons

11. Philadelphia Eagles

12. Houston Texans

13. Green Bay Packers

14. Dallas Cowboys

15. San Diego Chargers

16. Chicago Bears

17. Miami Dolphins

18. New York Jets

19. Arizona Cardinals

20. Jacksonville Jaguars

21. San Francisco 49ers

22. Seattle Seahawks

23. Buffalo Bills

24. Oakland Raiders

25. Carolina Panthers

26. Detroit Lions

27. Kansas City Chiefs

28. Washington Redskins

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

30. Cleveland Browns

31. Tennessee Titans

32. Saint Louis Rams

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Vikings-Packers Preview: Are You Ready for Some Gunslinging or Mudslinging?

Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.

Brett Favre’s long-awaited homecoming in Green Bay is upon us, and it couldn’t have been scripted any better.

The Minnesota Vikings are 6-1 with the Green Bay Packers close behind at 4-2. A Packer win would forge a practical tie atop the division.

The Packers have won two straight by a combined 57-3 score, while Minnesota lost for the first time last week, falling to the Steelers 27-17 in Pittsburgh.

“This may be the most anticipated event in Green Bay since my first tearful retirement press conference,” says Favre. “This game has the potential to be a real barn-burner. Throw in some snow and Matt Hasselbeck, and you’ve got the makings of a true classic.

“I’m not sure how the fans will react to my return. I’m not expecting casserole for my homecoming. With the game taking place a day after Halloween, it’s appropriate to say my reception will be ‘Trick Or Treat.’ That’s just fine. I don’t mind Halloween-themed events, nor do my teammates, who just enjoyed a cruise on Lake Minnetonka on the SS Ghostly Tail.

“I guess I can expect somewhat of a cool reception in Green Bay. I was once considered a god there, but it seems my status as a deity is no longer. It looks as though my inability to ‘decide’ has resulted in a case of ‘deicide.’ That’s a ‘vowel movement’ this 40-year-old would rather not experience.”

Favre’s counterpart, Aaron Rodgers, was sacked eight times in the Packers’ 30-23 loss in Minnesota in week four. Jared Allen recorded 4.5 of those sacks, as well as a forced fumble.

“We can’t have a repeat of the last game,” says Rodgers. “Allen is an avid outdoorsman; there’s nothing he likes more than a ‘sitting duck’ or a ‘deer in the headlights.’ After last time, I think my offensive line owes me better protection. They’re beholden to me. And if they don’t think they can stop the Vikings front four fairly, then they better ‘be holdin.’”

What will there be more of when Favre comes to town: gun slinging or mud slinging? Packer head coach Mike McCarthy has stressed a Viagra theme all week to his offensive linemen, because their job is to keep Rodgers upright. Like the decision to retire, that’s easier said than done.

Vikings win 27-23 as a stunned hush falls upon the stadium—not a Lambeau “peep” to be heard.

 

Check out more game previews at www.sports-central.org

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