The Dolphins are approaching a critical time in their 2002 season as they return to action following their bye, and one of the biggest tests comes Monday night at Green Bay. Here's how we think the game will unfold.

It's going to be cold in Green Bay on Monday night, although the wind won't be much of a factor and there will be no rain or snow.

So the elements shouldn't really have a major effect on the game.

It's going to come down to the Dolphins' ability to control the ball on offense, avoid mistakes and how much of a factor Brett Favre will be for the Packers.

Let's start with the Dolphins offense.

It's pretty obvious that Green Bay, following the lead of Buffalo, will stack the line of scrimmage and make Ray Lucas beat them.

In an ideal world, Ricky Williams would carry the ball 35 times and average between 4 and 5 yards a pop. But that will be difficult because of the attention he's going to get.

In simple terms, Lucas will have to make some plays. Can he do it?

That's obviously the big question. Lucas will be under more scrutiny Monday night than any Dolphins player in a long time.

He needs to play under control and not try to force things, run when the opportunity presents itself and show more accuracy than he did against Buffalo.

The feeling here is that Lucas will play a solid game and help the Dolphins score in the neighborhood of 20 points.

The question now is whether that will be enough.

The huge "X" factor in this game is the health of Favre, as it relates to how well he can move around and whether he might be forced to leave the game early.

Part of what makes Favre so good is his ability to make things happen after a play breaks down. That ability might be lessened Monday night because of his gimpy left leg.

As fast as they are, the Green Bay wide receivers don't represent nearly as big a threat as Ahman Green or even Bubba Franks.

The Dolphins have some work to do on defense and will make life much easier on themselves if they can get in Favre's face.

The Dolphins have a big edge on special teams and really could use a big play in that area.

Winning at Green Bay is a major challenge, and the Dolphins will need a break here or there.

This is a winnable game for the Dolphins, contrary to what many would have you believe.

But Favre being Favre, we'll give Green Bay the slightest of edges here, with the game coming down to the last seconds.

The call: Packers 22, Dolphins 21.

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