Well, it's official. Brett Favre has returned for his 20th and (supposedly) final season in the NFL, and his second with the Minnesota Vikings.
In 2009, The Vikings finished 12-4, and obliterated the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round en route to an overtime loss to the eventual champion Saints in the NFC title game.
Favre was absolutely incredible, throwing for 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions while finishing a 107.2 passer rating, the best of his legendary career.
However, the Green Bay Packers, led by third-year starter Aaron Rodgers, are still at the team at the top of the NFC North this year.
The Packers defense finished 2009 ranked second in the entire NFL, and their offense is full of young, talented players who are still developing. They have filled holes on both sides of the ball and I believe they will finish the season as the best offense in the NFL.
Rodgers, the Green Bay signal caller, was equally as spectacular statistically as Favre last year, finishing the season with over 4,400 passing yards and 30 touchdowns. In the Packers Wild Card loss to Arizona in the playoffs, Rodgers threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns.
Now, Rodgers is in his third year as the starter in Green Bay, and he has established himself as the future of the Packers franchise. He is extremely talented and has had another offseason to work with his team, something Favre has not.
Although the mid-August arrival formula worked well for the Vikings last year, Favre's teammates need the work to get used to him, especially with three of the Vikings best offensive weapons, Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice and Adrian Peterson, battling injuries and missing crucial practice time right now.
Yesterday, there was a Yahoo! Sports report that many Vikings players are aware of Favre's distrust in Vikings head coach Brad Childress.
There were a couple of instances last year in which Childress and Favre had arguments over Childress' decisions, like their Sunday night game against the Carolina Panthers, a game in which the Minnesota head coach saw fit to pull Favre, a decision the old man strongly disagreed with.
In the NFC championship last year, the Saints showed the formula for beating Favre, which was to come after him play after play and beat him up. Favre was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted after the New Orleans game, and it showed in his indecision this summer.
It is a copycat league, and any team that faces the Vikings last year will try to do the exact same thing the Saints did and put Favre on his back over and over again. If Favre goes down at some point in the season, the Vikings backup quarterback situation is not good enough to carry the Vikings to the postseason, let alone the division title.
Lastly, in all likelihood, Favre will not be as great as he was in '09. He was fantastic last year, but it would be asking the impossible of the 40 year old man to try to replicate his 2009 performance, which is what it will take for the Vikings to be the best team in the NFC.
He will be solid, as he has been his entire career, but I find it hard to believe that the career leader in interceptions will throw less than 15 picks this year.
Overall, there are too many questions surrounding Favre and the Vikings for them to be the best team in this division. Favre's strained relationship with the coach is the one issue I am most concerned about. Unity is the most important thing on a football team, and without that, the Vikings locker room will be split and things could get out of control in Minnesota very fast.
It was a magical season for the Vikings last year, but ultimately, with all the good things they are doing on both sides of the ball and the potential problems facing the Vikings this year, the Packers are the team to beat in the NFC North.