After watching the Minnesota Vikings painfully fall to the Panthers last night, it's clear to me that Brett Favre is trying to disguise how good the team really is. The team has played 3 night games in front of a national audience this year and is only 1-2 in those games. They won at home in Favre's first game against the Green Bay Packers and lost to both Arizona and Carolina on the road in a three week span. During those two losses, Favre has played far less than his spectacular self.
The peculiar thing is that between the two terrible road losses, the Vikings pounded a then 9-3 Cincinnati Bengals team that hadn't lost to any team within the AFC or NFC North. The 30-10 rout of the Bengals happened during an early Sunday afternoon game. Favre didn't play that well in this game either, but he did enough to get the team a lead and let Adrian Peterson keep the game out of reach.
For the most part, the Vikings have been a dominant team in the NFL this year. They are in the top 10 in offense and defense and have one of the leagues highest scoring offenses this season. The problem, however, is they can't seem to play well on the big stage, which could be a problem come playoff time when every game is nationally shown. It's hard to come up with reasons for these little meltdowns considering how well the team has played, but here is a short recap of these troublesome night games.
October 5th: Minnesota 30, Green Bay 23 - The Vikings barely escaped this game by recovering two onside kicks in the 4th quarter when the Packers were doing nothing but moving the ball when on offense. Favre threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns, but the defense allowed Aaron Rodgers to pass for almost 400 yards. Adrian Peterson also had a ball stripped from his arms and returned for a touchdown by rookie LB Clay Matthews Jr. The team won the game, but their performance was far from dominant.
December 6th: Arizona 30, Minnesota 17 - Don't let the score fool you. This was game was totally one-sided. The Vikings were dominated on offense and defense and, after taking an early 7-0 lead, were outscored 30-3 until Favre threw a garbage touchdown while the game was out of reach. This game was also Favre's first multi-interception game of the season (he had two picks, but threw two other balls that should've been picked). After how they retaliated the following week against Cincinnati, this game was viewed as sort of a wake-up call and sort of a fluke.
December 20th: Carolina 26, Minnesota 7 - The Vikings didn't even show up for this game. They allowed back-up QB Matt Moore to throw for 299 yards and 3 TDs. They were getting killed at the line of scrimmage and could not run the ball. Some argue that they got too hyped up after finding out that Green Bay's loss resulted in their 2nd straight division title. Others say that it's due to Favre's "late-season slide", but whatever it was, it put most Vikings fans into a panic.
For Vikings fans like myself, let's just hope that the team is trying to hide it's dominance by playing sluggish in nationally-televised games...