The Minnesota Vikings finally broke into the win column with a 24-10 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Now, the defending NFC North champions can focus on playing football and getting to the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, the team has plenty of issues to overcome after its bye week. Here are five reasons why the next few weeks could determine the fate of the Minnesota Vikings' season.
So far in 2010, Brett Favre has played his age. He has thrown for two touchdowns and six interceptions this season, while only throwing seven picks in all of 2009.
His quarterback rating is an abysmal 60.4 and his longest completion has only amassed 33 yards. Favre has no zip on his passes and shows no mobility in the pocket.
The future hall of famer relies on these assets in order for his team to succeed. Favre is also the key to the Vikings' passing attack, which is only 24th in the NFL this season.
The Vikings have been bit by the injury bug in 2010.
Still playing through a hobbled ankle, Brett Favre also suffered a stinger in the Vikings' Week 3 victory.
Pro Bowl wide receiver Sidney Rice underwent hip surgery and is not expected back until the middle of the season.
Bernard Berrian is playing through a knee injury and has not been productive all season as Favre’s go-to receiver.
Percy Harvin is suffering though migraines and a hip injury that will plague him throughout the season.
Last by not least, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe injured his hamstring against Detroit.
All of these players were catalysts on the 2009 NFC North champions and need to get healthy in order for the Vikings to make a postseason run.
Has anyone looked at the Vikings schedule after their bye week?
The Vikings play the Jets, the Cowboys, the Packers, the Patriots, the Cardinals, and the Bears in their next six games.
The Jets are a playoff team with a tenacious defense that is Super Bowl caliber.
Dallas may have found their stride in Week 3 and is still one of the NFL’s most talented teams.
Green Bay may be the best team in the NFC with quarterback Aaron Rodgers leading the way.
The Patriots have one of the best offenses in the league and are dangerous to play in Foxboro.
Arizona might be the only match-up the Vikings will be favored to win.
The Bears play as well as quarterback Jay Cutler performs, which could be trouble for the Vikings at this point.
Minnesota needs to play .500 ball or better over the next six weeks or its 2010 season will be in jeopardy.
The Minnesota Vikings are not one of the younger teams in the NFL. Brett Favre turns 41 this season and is showing signs of an aging quarterback.
Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield is playing his 12th season in the NFL and his performance has declined over the past three years.
Linebacker E.J. Henderson is now 30, the age that signals decline for most linebackers.
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Pat Williams is 37 and continues to play at a high level, but his body has been banged up over the years.
All-Pro left guard Steve Hutchinson is in his 10th NFL season and continues to take hard hits from defensive linemen every game.
Finally, left tackle Byrant McKinnie is 31 and has been hobbled the past few seasons with multiple injuries.
These players' risk of injury is higher than the younger players, which may wear them down as the season heads into November and December.
With a 40-year-old quarterback leading the way, the Minnesota Vikings' offensive line needs to play at a high level every week. However, they have been sub-par throughout 2010.
Phil Loadholt has not given Favre enough protection on his blind side, which is basically making Steve Hutchinson block two defensive players. Now that Byrant McKinnie is back, the pass protection should stabilize on the left side.
Center John Sullivan and right guard Anthony Herrera need to get the ball off quicker in order to create a hole for all-pro running back Adrian Peterson. Sullivan must improve on his shotgun snaps to Favre, who had to catch plenty of high ones during the first three weeks.
This is a unit that can improve, but must do so quickly as it looks ahead to playing many teams with good defenses in the coming weeks.