Packers are polar opposites of sinking Vikings : Packers Insider

Packers are polar opposites of sinking Vikings

November 16, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Nov 16, 2010 ~ by Gary D’Amato, Journal-Sentinel

~GREEN BAY — There was some pep in their step as the Green Bay Packers returned to practice Monday following their bye week.

Coming off three straight victories, rested and healthier than they’ve been in weeks, the Packers (6-3) control their destiny in the NFC North and are looking forward to playing meaningful games in cold weather.

“There’s nothing like November and December football,” said coach Mike McCarthy. “I think this is what it’s all about. This is what you come together in March and prepare for.

“Everything we want to accomplish is right in front of us.”

Some 275 miles to the west, winter arrived in Minneapolis over the weekend in the form of 6 to 10 inches of snow – the biggest pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm in nearly 20 years.

Another early arrival: a winter of discontent.

The Minnesota Vikings, picked by many to win the NFC North, are 3-6 and coming off a dispiriting 27-13 loss to the Chicago Bears. They are a team in turmoil, with an embattled coach in Brad Childress, a beat-up quarterback in Brett Favre and a locker room filled with dissension and doubt.

Just about nothing has gone right for the Vikings, most notably a failed four-game experiment with malcontent receiver Randy Moss that cost the team a third-round draft pick.

Some Vikings players reportedly have turned on Childress, who called out Favre for throwing three interceptions in a 28-24 loss to the Packers on Oct. 24 and reportedly nearly came to blows with Percy Harvin after questioning the receiver’s effort at a recent practice.

“We know that Childress doesn’t have our backs, so why should we have his?” one player said in a story in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk said he had never been in a locker room in which the players turned on their coach.

“I’ve had a ton of respect for all the coaches I’ve had growing up and even now,” Hawk said. “It would have to get pretty bad for that to happen, but I don’t doubt anything. Nothing would surprise me.”

And so, two teams heading in opposite directions prepare for a Sunday showdown at the Metrodome. The Packers, installed as early three-point favorites, are trying not to pay attention to the drama unfolding daily in Eden Prairie.

But they watch TV, too.

“At this point you really can’t help it,” said nose tackle B.J. Raji. “Every time you turn on ESPN there’s something going on. It’s just crazy because I know the talent on that team isn’t indicative of what their record is. Talent-wise, they’re not 3-6.

Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress talks with quarterback Brett Favre (4) on the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010.

“But it’s up to them to turn their season around. I can’t worry about that.”

Childress said after the loss to the Bears that he was aware many Vikings fans were calling for him to be fired.

“It’s not something you’re happy to deal with, but you deal with what’s out there,” he said. “My name’s behind the Vikings team and it all starts with me.”

McCarthy said he watched the Bears-Vikings game and chose his words carefully when asked if the Vikings looked like a different team from the one that showed up at Lambeau last month.

“Well, they look . . . they’re a different team in my opinion on grass than they are on turf,” he said. “I think playing up in the dome is a really big advantage for them with the crowd noise. I thought schematically how they’re playing, they’re doing a lot of similar things.”

Perhaps, but they’re not doing them as well.

Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s second-leading rusher, gained a season-low 51 yards against the Bears. Favre, hobbled by ankle, foot and shoulder injuries, threw for just 170 yards and added three interceptions to bring his league-leading total to 16.

Favre has been a shell of the quarterback who threw 33 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions and finished with a 107.2 passer rating in 2009. He has completed only one pass of 40 or more yards this year and ranks 31st in passer rating at 72.2.

ESPN reported Monday that Favre expected to have an MRI on his right shoulder after experiencing pain Saturday, but Childress said team trainers spoke to Favre and determined he wouldn’t need the test.

Childress said he expected Favre to make his 295th consecutive regular-season start against Green Bay.

The Packers expect nothing less than Favre’s best. The quarterback limped off the field at Lambeau to loud boos last month and probably wants to win the rematch as much as any game he’s ever played.

“If he is going to play his best against anybody, or try to play his best against anybody, it’s going to be us,” Raji said. “I’m sure he’s had this one circled on the calendar.”

Said defensive end Howard Green, “He’s going to bring it, especially against us. He still has some skills left. He’s going to come out there and let it all hang out.”

The Packers need to win to keep pace with the 6-3 Bears, who play at Miami on Thursday night. Though it might be too late for the Vikings to salvage their season, the Packers don’t expect them to lie down Sunday.

Full story HERE

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