How Will the Minnesota Vikings Cope with Adversity?

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How Will the Minnesota Vikings Cope with Adversity?
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The look on Brett Favre's face said it all on Sunday night.

It said it after he threw his two interceptions, it said it while E.J. Henderson was lying in agony in the middle of the field, and it said it as he was walking to the center of the field to shake hands at the end of the game.

His posture steady, but his lips pursed, his brow slightly furrowed, and, in the instance of Henderson's injury, his head shaking.

While there were a lot of bad things to think about in the Phoenix suburb on Sunday night, disbelief had to have been the central emotion.

Disbelief that the Vikings played so poorly as a team, disbelief in the unluckiness of Henderson's season-ending injury, and disbelief that this great, yet uncompleted season could end in a way Favre, the Vikings, and their entire fanbase know it shouldn't.

Now, I am sure there are Vikings fans who have positioned themselves all across the emotional spectrum after Sunday's loss to the Cardinals.

Some speculate that a legitimate losing-streak could be sparked as the 9-3 Cincinnati Bengals visit the Metrodome on Sunday, while others view it as just a bump in the road.

In many ways the Vikings brought much of this adversity upon themselves.

The capability of Favre to throw the ball 40-plus times a game and do it with unprecedented accuracy, I think, has left the Vikings complacent on offense.

Last year, had teams stacked the box like they have done all season this year, the Vikings still would have found a way to have success in the running game.

Now with Favre, if the running game starts to look like it won't go the Vikings way, they put the ball in Favre's hands and ask him to throw it 40-50 times.

I needn't remind anyone that the man is 40, and even though he is having one of the best seasons of his career statistically (perhaps the best), it's not the brightest idea to have the guy make as many throws as he has years.

The Vikings need to cope with that adversity by getting back to their bread and butter.

That is, making Adrian Peterson the guy.

Had you told me that we were 12 games into the 2009-2010 season, Peterson would only have three games of 100 yards or more, and was not the leading rusher in all 12 games, I probably would have laughed at you.

Yet here we are.

Peterson has rushed just three times for over 100 yards in a game, and Percy Harvin led the Vikings in rushing against the Cardinals.

If the Vikings continue to put the pressure on Brett Favre to make all the plays, that type of adversity will only yield bad results in the regular season games to come, and may very well lead to the Vikings having to play two playoff games to get to the NFC Championship.

The adversity the Vikings now finally have to face that is out of their control is the injury situation.

Henderson, the glue that holds the defense together, will not step foot on the field again until next year's first regular-season game (and that is probably optimistic).

Their best tackler, Antoine Winfield, has an injury that is of the nagging variety, and Childress will not let him play until he is as close to 100 percent as possible—which is the right move.

A slew of concussions has also wrecked the offensive line and the secondary—not news you want to hear when you've got to face Chad Ochocinco and Carson Palmer next game.

In addition to getting away from the expected game plan and the massive amount of crucial injuries to this team all at once, another bit of adversity has come from outside the Vikings' camp.

The Green Bay Packers are now just two games back of the division lead, (but are actually three due to the tiebreaker).

Depending on what happens in the NFC East and West in the coming weeks, the Vikings could be looking at playing in one of the wild card playoff games.

So, it will be interesting to see how the Vikings deal with this adversity, now that some has finally come their way.

I don't expect the Vikings to fail in meeting the adversity they will face down the stretch.

Champions cope, and I fully expect the Vikings to get back on the right track against the Bengals at home.

The following two games at Chicago and at Carolina are both winnable.

However, if Favre's load isn't lightened by Peterson and the running game (i.e. the O-line), the Vikings could be in for a much tougher time than anyone would have predicted just a few weeks ago.

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