On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings executed the game plan they will use all season to help them to be successful in 2009.
Brett Favre was 14-21 for 110 total yards, with a touchdown pass to electric rookie receiver Percy Harvin. Even without an effective Bernard Berrian, Favre still got five players involved in the passing game, with Harvin being the lead recipient (three catches, 36 yards).
With Jim Brown in attendance, Adrian Peterson did his best impersonation of the legend by motoring around, over and through the Cleveland Browns for 180 yards on 25 carries. Despite suffering from apparent dehydration that required an IV at halftime, he still scored three touchdowns.
The Vikings defense looks to continue where it left off at the end of last year, as they allowed a good running team to accumulate only 89 yards on 20 carries. Minnesota is not going to need to score a lot of points to win games this year because of that fantastic defense.
However, for the Vikings to make a run at the NFC Championship this season, it is Peterson, not Favre, that needs to be the dominant force.
The next two games for the Vikings are very winable. They will make a trip to Detroit and then host San Francisco. Both teams have had defensive issues, and Peterson should be able to continue putting up enormous yards.
But the true test for Brad Childress and his staff will be in the fourth week, when Favre makes his first start against now-divisional rival Green Bay. The Packers have a talented offense and Favre's heir, Aaron Rodgers, ready to throw the ball as much as needed.
The impulse will be for Childress to, at some point, get his owner's $25 million-worth out of Favre and throw the ball more than 21 times in a game. If the Vikings can avoid the temptation to open up the passing game, the mere threat of Favre's arm to opposing teams could be enough to lead to an incredible season for Peterson.
Harvin made a strong statement in his first NFL game, adding 99 return yards and 22 rushing yards on two carries. With his skills, and the other weapons on Minnesota's offense, he could make a strong case to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year.
With a string of games like he had in Cleveland Sunday, he would be well on his way.