The Vikings already proved they can win the NFC North without much help from their quarterback. The signing of Brett Favre is all about winning a championship.
The question that the Vikings season hinges on, then, is whether Favre is really that much of an upgrade at quarterback? (Especially after missing the entire offseason.)
Favre’s play with the Jets was slightly above average for most of last season, and sub T-Jacksonian down the stretch.
Forget the “schism.” Let’s see Favre prove he’s not Just Another Guy at quarterback in a division with two young guns that are superior — Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers.
The North is undoubtedly an improved division this year, but the Vikings are the favorites because of their line play. Steve Hutchinson and the boys will plow open holes for the best pure running back in football — Adrian Peterson. (Second-round pick, right tackle Phil Loadholt, might live up to his awesome name.)
The line will also keep Favre clean, as long as he doesn’t throw any more crackback blocks.
The receiver group isn’t inspiring, but it’s better than it has been in Minnesota since early in the Mike Tice years. Bernard Berrian is a quality starter, rookie Percy Harvin could be special, and the Vikings felt good enough about Sidney Rice to release Bobby Wade.
On defense, the ageless Pat Williams and buddy Kevin Williams form the best run-stopping duo in football and won’t miss any games to suspension. They make life much easier on pass-rushing demon Jared Allen, and underrated linebackers Chad Greenway and EJ Henderson.
The secondary is mediocre after Antoine Winfield, but oppositing quarterbacks don’t usually get much time to survey the field against the Vikings.
Go through the roster, and you realize that Favre is just a small piece to a rugged collection of talent.
It’s up to him and coach Brad Childress not to screw things up too badly.
Key Player: Pat Williams. We already talked about Favre enough. This is the Williams that is the key to the defense. And his always excellent play makes it easy to forget that Pat is turning 37 years old. He has to slow down eventually, right?
Rookie to watch: Harvin. The Vikings added another threat that can make plays on his own. Which is good, since Childress’ offense tends to lack imagination.
Best veteran acquisition:
Greg Lewis. Favre. That doesn’t mean he will be worth the trouble.
Key Game: Week Eight, at Green Bay. Minnesota’s early schedule is very favorable, but they face the Ravens and Steelers before Favre’s return to Lambeau.