Brett Favre trying to become the first quarterback in history to defeat every NFL team, against the team he crafted his legend with. Aaron Rodgers reprising the beleaguered role of Steve Young. Two favorites for the NFC North division title challenging each other. Fanbases forced to recognize the folly of sport. Rivals and Ryan Longwell. All of these storylines have been covered, except one.
The Vikings should run the Packers out of the dome.
This is an ideal time for the Vikings to catch the Packers, and if they make the most of it, this game will be done before the fourth quarter.
Consider the Packers' mess of an offensive line against the Vikings stout defensive line. The Packers have already given up 12 sacks through three games, and according to the latest reports, starting left tackle Chad Clifton won't be able to suit up Monday. That leaves converted guard Daryn Colledge to block All-Pro Jared Allen, who is probably practicing his sack celebration dance right now.
Jared Allen is constantly practicing his sack celebration dance, though. Constantly.
The Packers passing game has not lived up to preseason expectations (207 yards/game, 18th in the NFL), thanks to the woeful line and a surprising rash of dropped passes. The Vikings pass defense has been much improved over past seasons, giving up an average of 168 yards/game, fourth best in the NFL.
So if the Packers' line can't protect the pocket, Rodgers won't have much of a chance in his personal battle against Favre. And if Rodgers were to get time, that might not even be enough.
The Packers defense will have a predicament just as intimidating: Adrian Peterson. Peterson has averaged 113 yards in four games against the Packers (including a 192-yard performance the last time these two played), and the Packers run defense has underachieved this year, giving up 128 yards/game for 10th worst in the NFL.
Peterson, meanwhile, is averaging 119 yards/game this season, and the Vikings as a team are averaging 143 yards/game, seventh best in the NFL.
And Percy Harvin constantly gets touchdowns. Constantly.
All of that and Brett Favre's relentless need to stick it to Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson. The paper and stats and momentum side with the Vikings on Monday.
But the Packers need the win more in order to keep ground in the competitive NFC North.
If the Packers win, the division would be tied between Green Bay, Minnesota, and the Chicago Bears. If the Packers lose, they would be two games behind the Vikings, and one game behind the Bears.
This is as close to a must-win game as a week four game can be, even without the added incentive of playing against their former idol.
No one will be surprised if the Packers take the air out of the dome with a victory, the Vikings' current and evident advantages notwithstanding. Any given Sunday, or Monday, as it were.
What if, as the cartoon says, Brett Favre has a senior moment, and throws to green and white instead of purple.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers could have gleaned something from the tape of the 49ers/Vikings game, when the 49ers reined in Adrian Peterson (save one 35-yard run). The Vikings' excellent pass defensive statistics could be revealed by Greg Jennings and Donald Driver as nothing more than a mirage, or Ryan Grant unexpectedly pokes holes in the Vikings run defense.
The Vikings' offensive line hasn't created much time for their quarterback, for that matter; Favre could see Aaron Kampman many, many times.
That is where this game will be won, like every NFL game: in the battles between offensive lineman and pass rushers, between corners and wide receivers, running backs and blitzing linebackers, and obviously the all-important turnover battle. Any given Monday.
This is a big game for both teams, and not just because Favre is competing against Green Bay.
But that is pretty crazy when you really think about it. Favre versus the Packers, wow.
It should be a great game.
For Vikings fans.