Friday, October 02, 2009

NFL Week 4: Old Man and the Purple

If you don't have Brett Favre on your mind, you're not human.

That's what most of the NFL media wants you to think, and that's what Brett himself would love for you to believe.

As the future Hall of Famer prepares for his first shot at the Packers, all the talk this week seems to be centered around the revenge angle. Favre did his best to downplay that by denying it, but no one who is reasonably intelligent will believe him on that.

His counterpart, Aaron Rodgers, is saying even less, keeping a low profile and refusing to even mention Favre by name.

My guess is the two share a polite handshake after Monday's game, but I honestly don't think either is on the other's Christmas card list. For Rodgers, it's been a long, tough battle to become a starting quarterback. Despite early assertions that Favre didn't think he had to mentor Rodgers, the young buck hasn't said a single negative word about Favre, outside of a January radio interview where he said Favre hadn't been returning his calls.

Favre, meanwhile, is obviously bitter that Rodgers took his wife car locker house power tools job? That can't be it, right?

The 3-0 Vikings were challenged Sunday against San Francisco. They answered the bell thanks to Greg Lewis' heroic catch of an equally heroic Favre throw.

The 2-1 Packers were challenged two weeks ago by upstart Cincinnati. The Packers failed to respond in that game until it was too late, and they took a 31-24 loss.

In the end, that's really all we have to go on. The Packers, having played Chicago and Cincinnati, have likely played a tougher schedule, but it's only three games, so there's no point speaking in absolutes on such a topic.

We're back to the normal things that decide a football game. Both teams have advantages. Minnesota clearly has the superior running game and overall defense. The Packers have the better quarterback and they are more effective at protecting the football and taking it away from the opponent.

The Vikings are at home, but that's not as big an advantage as it is against other opponents. There will be (literally) thousands of Packer fans at Monday's game.

Motivation is a two-way street. Favre wants this badly, but so does Rodgers, and their respective teams.

It's a game that is likely to come down to something stupid. A fumble, tipped interception, bad fake-punt call, bad officiating, or something like that.

I haven't picked against the Packers since the middle of Mike McCarthy's first season, but I am low on reasons why I should be convinced they will win this one. The Vikings are on a roll, and a banged-up and flawed Packer team isn't the one to stop them.
The pick: Minnesota

Other games (home team in CAPS)

CHICAGO over Detroit
Cincinnati over CLEVELAND
N.Y. Giants over KANSAS CITY
WASHINGTON over Tampa Bay
JACKSONVILLE over Tennessee
HOUSTON over Oakland
NEW ENGLAND over Baltimore
NEW ORLEANS over N.Y. Jets
MIAMI over Buffalo
DENVER over Dallas
SAN FRANCISCO over St. Louis
PITTSBURGH over San Diego

Last week: 12-4
Season: 30-18

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