Minnesota Clinches Playoff Spot: Favre Reminiscent of 2007

ExJx BrooksContributor IDecember 16, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 13:  Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings throws a pass against the Cincinnati Bengals on December 13, 2009 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Bengals 30-10.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Please, don't fear the end of season "Favre Slide."

Minnesota is in the playoffs and if there is a time Favre is needed, it’s in the playoffs. All he needs is support from the rest of the Vikings.

In a season shaping up to be much like 2007, for Favre at least, the “Favre Slide” is the last thing they should be worried about.

I was interested to see the differences in the last two seasons compared with this one to prove that he is not in an end of season slide. The research ended up showing me a different story.

First off, Favre is having a very similar season to his season with Green Bay in 2007.

Good thing is, this Vikings team is better than the '07 Packers team. Bad thing is, a lot of people expect the Vikes to be in NFC championship game this year, while the Packers were a surprise to everyone—as were the Giants.

On a side note here: you may say it was Favre that lost that game for them, not the team. Yes, it was Favre who threw the overtime interception to set up the Giants' game-winning field goal, but if you say that this one play was solely responsible for the loss you would be wrong.

1. The defense that kept Eli Manning from throwing a single touchdown also allowed Eli to throw for 254 yards and on two occasions, in regulation, he put the Giants kicker, Lawrence Tynes, in position for two field goals.

2. That same defense allowed 134 yards rushing and two TDs from the Giants’ rushing attack.

3. The Packs' running game was all but nonexistent—26 yards and no TDs on 13 carries for a horrible 2.0 yards per carry is hardly any effort.

4. Favre had 236 yards, two touchdowns, and only one interception going into overtime. He had a decent game the first three quarters. He even led the Pack on a 49-yard drive that had two turnovers in one play—an interception and then a fumble. With a stroke of luck, Favre was able to put them in position for the game tying field goal early in the fourth quarter. Before that possession, Favre, who already had his two touchdowns, was virtually keeping them in the game single-handedly.

So, in analysis of this game, we find that if Favre has no support he makes stupid decisions. This game may have never even got to overtime if he had the supporting cast around him that he needed. Now when he struggles with the right support, that is on him.

There are many similarities between this season and the '07 season, as far as Favre's play heading into the final five games.

By Week 13 in 2007, Favre had racked up 3,356 yards, completed 68 percent of his passes with 22 TDs and eight INTs. This season by week 13, he had 2,874 yards, completed 69 percent of his passes with 24 TDs and three INTs.

Now the obvious difference is the interceptions with everything else being very close.

Both teams through 11 games were 10-1. Difference here is the Packers were surprisingly good. The Vikings, on the other hand, were predicted as the division favorites.

Of course, this was a prediction made after, again after, the signing of Favre. Before the signing of Favre, the Packers were the favorite. Wow I didn’t know one guy could make such an impact, yet supposedly play so bad.

Now the Vikes have gone through the first two games of the annual "Favre Slide" and for the most part have got mediocre Favre, not bad Favre.

He isn't starting to slide. He's been a victim of little to no support against Arizona, again forcing him into stupid plays.

Plus, the Bengals and Cardinals are teams with, at worst, decent defenses and teams that are fighting to secure playoff spots.

So, I looked at the past two seasons in comparison to this year to refute the "Favre Slide" is happening again. I wasn't able to prove or disprove that, but uncovered some interesting facts that may at least justify his poor play in '07 and '08.

This year, he has totaled 467 yards, a 62.6 passing percentage, three TDs, three INTs, and has been sacked five times in the first two of the "Fatal Five." Last year, Favre totaled 384 yards, 58 passing percentage, zero TDs, two INTs, and was sacked five times.

Now he had ample run support last year in those two games, 242 yards and four TDs, one scored by Favre himself.

The difference is...

1. In these two games, the Jets allowed 859 total yards and 58 points—the Vikes have allowed 608 yards and 40 points. Almost 300 yards less and 18 points less. That in itself could account for the difference in record, 0-2 last year and 1-1 this year. It’s hard for anyone to win games when the defense allows so many yards and so many points.

2. The Jets were 8-3 going into Week 13, leading the division by one game over the Patriots, who were 7-4, while the Bills and the Fins were tied at 6-5. This was a tight race at this point.

Ultimately, through the last five games, the race remained tight and culminated in a game between the New York and Miami to decide which of the two would go to the playoffs. Of course, the Jets lost and the Phins captured the AFC East.

The Viking, this year, were 10-1 and just two wins away from clinching the division. Now they are one win away from clinching the division and have already clinched a playoff spot. So last year there was less room for error, thus increasing the pressure to win.

3. Favre was injured. Trying to overcome that injury in a pressure-packed situation could have been half the problem.

The injury argument is pointless to most of the haters, but I say this to prove the point that it probably contributed to Favre's poor play.

Now, when throwing in 2007's Week 13 and 14 performances, there are few differences compared to this year. Favre did have worse stats, 322 yards, 54 per cent passing, 2 TDs, three INTs and was sacked once, but the result was the same.

There is one glaring point to be made that everyone has missed. How? I don't know. To judge his performance based on his stats in these two games in 2007 would be unfair.

Point in case: In Week 13, when the Packers played in Dallas, Favre was injured in the second quarter (for a recap of the game click here) and was taken out with 10 minutes to play in the second quarter after only recording 56 yards, no TDs and two INTs.

1. If Favre doesn't get injured, he would have had more yards, possibly more TDs, and possibly more INTs. Despite a failed comeback attempt by Rodgers, the Packers' backup had 201 yards, one TD and no INTs, and a decent run game that produced 124 yards and 2 touchdowns. This just shows that really it wasn't just Favre that lost this game for them; on a bigger scale it was again the defense, which was also a definite problem for them last year and was a problem early on this year.

2. With an injury in this 2007 game, the first of the "Fatal Five," and an injury last year late in the season, it is possible the poor play is due to injuries. One would have to look into the two seasons prior to 2007 to make that determination for all four seasons, but it is safe to say that the elbow injury in the Dallas game could have been part of what was hampering his play at the end of the season.

Why no one has brought this up is beyond me.

His stats have been brought up to prove that he has had trouble late in the season the past four years, but to be completely fair we also need to look at all the things that go into helping a quarterback be successful. Pressures from the playoff race, injuries, support from the run game and most importantly the defense taking some pressure off by shutting down the opposing offense.

Think about it, the defense is the biggest reason for the slump. If it is not at least partially to blame for increased pressure on Favre and the losses suffered, then shouldn't Peyton Manning and the Colts have like two or three more Super Bowl rings?

Seriously, Manning is the guy right now, aside from Drew Brees and Tom Brady, who every quarterback in the league is measured up to and has been for quite some time. So offense really has never been a problem for Indy.

But how many times did the Colts make it to the playoffs and lose because they could not stop the other team defensively before they actually got to the Super Bowl?

What was different about that Super Bowl season?

They've lost in the playoffs six times before getting to the Super Bowl since Manning was a rookie. That's six out seven years.

The reason: the defense.

The playoff blowout against the Jets, in the AFC Wild Card game, is one where we can honestly say the offense was horrible, but 41-0 doesn't scream great defense either.

In 2006, the year they won the Super Bowl they only allowed 16.2 points a game in the postseason, including the Super Bowl, and scored an astonishing 26.5 points a game.

So even with the best of the best quarterbacks, if the defense doesn't step up, he is not going to look so hot.

For the Vikings, this year all seems well. The defense got back in stride after a letdown of a game in Arizona, Favre is healthy, and the run game will hopefully continue the stellar play it had in last week’s game. If this all pans out and Favre still continues his slide, then the haters will be right.

Well, only partially right, as he has already accomplished what he said he was going to—make the playoffs.

If the run game is bad, or the defense is horrible, or Favre suffers an injury there is no argument. Yeah maybe if he does slide again it will still be ultimately his fault, but having to carry a team once again is definitely not going to help things. Plus, it isn't what he was hired to do, as so many of you have pointed out throughout the season.

I hope for him that the rest of the season is good and it does mirror his 2007 season as far as wins and losses, except for losing in the NFC Championship game . The only way he can get from underneath the scrutiny is to actually win the Super Bowl, so that is the mountain he has to climb. By the way don't look he's over half way there.

Of course, being a Packers fan as well, I'd rather see the Vikings do exactly the same as the 2007 Packers, except it would be the Packers ruining their season in the NFC Championship game and then going on to win the Superbowl.

Still, it would be a good alternative to see Favre hoist the Lombardi trophy one more time before he finally does ride off into the sunset.


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