By Jake McCormick and Andy Weise
As of roughly 3:13 p.m., Sunday, October 25, the Brett Favre Ball dropped in Minnesota and Wisconsin, prompting the inevitable, yet excruciatingly redundant conversation about Favre’s return to his former 16-year winter home in Green Bay. His first game against the Packers went as well as he could’ve hoped, but returning to the scene of the crime in Northeastern Wisconsin is really the more interesting game of the two for obvious reasons. As much as The Sports Bank’s Andy Weise and Jake McCormick LOVE talking about the most polarizing quarterback since Tom Brady, they also realize that a game of football involves more than the play of one man. Welcome to the second, and barring a playoff matchup, last Packer/Viking exchange!
Jake McCormick: First off, I would like to apologize for 16 years and 32 games of being on the opposite side of the Brett Favre slopfest from every network’s television announcers. My revelation came about halfway through the Monday night matchup when Jon Gruden started welling up with tears of joy that he coached the honorable, distinguished, Jesus Favre for a season or two. I feel closer to Viking/Bear fans than I ever have. Going into this weekend, I will promptly mute the television after I get goosebumps from an entire stadium booing so loud they are hoarse before the first quarter even starts. With that said, I couldn’t ask for a better situation for the Packers going into this game: They’re coming off two straight rightful blowouts where they actually looked pretty good on both sides of the ball and the Vikings are coming off a loss and previously, a win that should not have been so except luck and time were wearing purple and yellow.
Andy Weise: This whole Vikings-Packers matchup really worked well this year. You sent Green Bay to the Metrodome first, which is Favre’s first game against Green Bay since being traded away. Then you take Favre a month later and send him into Green Bay (how is this not a Sunday night game though?) and put him in front of the crowd he spent 16 years with. It’s going to be special, that’s for sure.
This game is certainly important with the Favre aspect but the players will tell you there is something bigger on the line: the division. Green Bay stands at 4-2 now and the Vikings not too far ahead at 6-1. If Green Bay wins Sunday, they head to Tampa and by week nine you’re looking at two teams that are 6-2 tied at the top of the division. Both teams have fairly favorable schedules the rest of the way, it’s not preposterous to say both teams win at least 10 games and both make the playoffs.
The Vikings should feel better about themselves after a game on Sunday that turnovers cost the game, not a defense that allowed 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Plus if there was one game on the schedule that you put a gun to my head and tell me the Vikings are going to lose, it’s on the road against the Steelers. On a lighter note, T.J. Lang might be starting at left tackle if Clifton doesn’t play again.
JM: The Vikings have gotten better week to week, but it’s pretty unlikely Antoine Winfield and Bernard Berrian will be playing, so the Packers get some relief there. Of course, we’re down to three healthy receivers and JerMichael Finley probably won’t play, so maybe that evens out. As bad as the Packer line was in the first game, I don’t see a repeat performance only because I think the grass takes away some of Jared Allen’s extra burst off the snap. The line actually looked good last week, although that is relative to the Div. III team they were playing, but that’s still some sort of a confidence boost. Lang’s decent performance does stabilize the starters for a second week in a row, although that’s like solidified mercury.
The one matchup that should be pretty intriguing will be how the defense plays, considering guys like Clay Matthews and Aaron Kampman have started to look more comfortable as starters. Sure they played the Browns and Lions back to back, but scoring 57 points and only giving up three shows the team is focused on their gameplan and isn’t looking ahead.
AW: I never understood why national writers and broadcasters were picking the Bears over the Packers and the Vikings but maybe that’s just me. I expect both teams to make the playoffs at this point in the season.
Injuries have played a big part in the weakness of both teams. Berrian might go but he hasn’t been the #1 guy that Sidney Rice has been so I’m less concerned about the WR spot right now. With Antoine Winfield, anybody with a good football mind would think the Vikings are more concerned about the entire season so they would caution Winfield to play too soon. The Vikings go into the bye week and would much rather have Winfield healthy the rest of the way than risk a more serious injury against the Packers in week eight.
I’m interested to see how the Packers defense does the second time around against Peterson. I’ll admit I was pretty impressed with the linebackers stopping the run game for the Vikings when they met last month. My sense is that the Vikings will try to run more between the tackles and continue working Peterson into the screen plays that normally go to Chester Taylor. It’s been a few weeks since I saw Kampman and I have to say it didn’t look like he was very comfortable in the 3-4.
JM: Wherever you’re coming from on this game, I think it’s safe to say that this could be one of the most unique regular season games we’ll ever see, unless Tom Brady becomes a New York Jet. As far as a final outlook/prediction goes, I picked the Vikings last time, but I have a feeling that the Packers are a lot more focused and ready to take on Favre at home. With the crowd on their side, I think the Packers will win by 10 points or less. Then we can get this whole revenge/rematch hoopla past us and look forward to a (hopefully) tight divisional race.
AW: It’s always a unique game when these two teams meet and they’re both having success. It’s been a handful of years since both teams started out in good fashion like this. I do think the Packers will have a clear advantage with the crowd and the factor of not wanting to lose at home to Brett and the Vikings. It’d be hard for me to put money on this game but I can’t go against the Vikings at this point. The offensive line was too much of a weakness for the Packers last time and the Vikings kind of let Green Bay back into that game. Whoever makes less turnovers will win this game and I have a feeling when it matters the most, the ball will go into the hands of Adrian Peterson. Vikes win by 3.