Pack's biggest rival: Bears or Vikings?

PackerReport.com's Bob Fox presents his argument on whether the Bears or Vikings are the Green Bay Packers' biggest rival.

There are many that will always say that the Chicago Bears are the biggest rival of the Green Bay Packers. They have played each other since 1921. They have played each other 173 times. The Packers have won 12 NFL championships, while the Bears have won 9. The Packers had Nitschke and the Bears had Butkus. The Packers had Hornung and Taylor and the Bears had Sayers and Payton. The Bears have won back to back NFC North titles. And the Packers are the favorites to win it in 2007.

But there are others that say the Minnesota Vikings are the Packers biggest rival. It is an interesting argument. Before the Vikings came into the NFL in 1961, the residents of the state of Minnesota were pretty much Packer fans. That has definitely changed. The Packers now lead the overall series by a 47-44-1 margin. The Packers also have a chance to win four in a row this Sunday in the series, which will be the first time that has happened since 1993 when the Vikings won four straight.

Brett Favre is 16-14 career against the Vikings, including a 6-10 mark at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. That record at the Humpty dome is much better as of late, as Favre started out 0-5 there. That would make Favre 10-4 at home against the Vikings in the regular season. The Vikings however, have won 3 out of the last 5 games at Lambeau, including a playoff game.

The NFC North/NFC Central has also been dominated by the Vikings since divisional play started in 1967. The Vikings have won 16 divisional titles, while the Packers and Bears have won 8 each. The Detroit Lions won 3 divisional titles in that time span and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won 3 divisional titles as well while they were in the division. The Packers, Bears and Buccaneers were the only divisional champs to win a Super Bowl. The Vikings are 0-4 in the Super Bowl, but haven't been in one since the 1970's.

The series between the Packers and Vikings started when Vince Lombardi was head coach. The Packers were 11-3 against the Vikings during that time. But from 1968-1979, the Vikings thoroughly dominated the Packers by going 19-4-1. The 1970's were definitely the Vikings high water mark as they were in their 4 Super Bowls during that era. But the Vikes could never raise the Lombardi Trophy as they were defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders.

The Packers have also been in four Super Bowls, and won three of them. However, the Vikings did tarnish the Packers' 24-14 playoff record by defeating the Packers at Lambeau Field after the 2004 season, 31-17. That was only the second time the Packers had ever lost a home playoff game. That was the game the WR Randy Moss pretended to moon the Lambeau Field faithful after a touchdown.

Moss is now a New England Patriot. There were many (myself included) who thought he might become a Green Bay Packer this year after spending a couple of years in Oakland after being traded by the Vikings. But that didn't happen as the Patriots were more aggressive in getting Moss than were the Packers. But the Packers passing game has turned out all right in 2007, even without Moss. The Patriots are now being talked up about going undefeated in 2007 because of the Moss acquisition and what it's done for their offense. Time will tell.

Moss was always a pain for the Packers when he was a Viking. But now the Packers must turn their attention to rookie RB Adrian Peterson. Peterson leads the NFL in rushing with 1,036 yards and 8 touchdowns. Peterson also broke the single game rushing mark in NFL history by gaining 296 yards last week against the San Diego Chargers. Peterson also gained 112 yards against the Packers in the game at Minneapolis on just 12 carries.

The Vikings also have a couple of former record setting Packers on their roster in K Ryan Longwell and S Darren Sharper. Longwell is the all-time leading scorer in Packer history with 1,054 points. Sharper led the Packers in interceptions 5 times and was all-pro three times and went to 2 Pro Bowls. The Vikings also have former Packer WR Robert Ferguson on their roster. Ferguson certainly wasn't a record breaker with the Pack, unless you are referring to times in the training room.

The Vikings are currently 3-5 in 2007. That is four games behind the Packers. The biggest problems with the Vikings in 2007 is their quarterback play and their issues in pass coverage. The Vikings have some very talented players and Peterson could have an unbelievable career. If the Vikings can shore up their shortcomings, then Minnesota could be a NFC North contender very soon.

In terms of who is the Packers biggest rival, I see both sides in that discussion. On one side, the Packers and Bears were playing 40 years before the Vikings even existed. On the other hand, the Vikings have had the most success in the division for about 40 years. The way I see it, the Bears are rival 1-A and the Vikings are rival 1-B. The Vikings would also be advised to get a new stadium soon (preferably outdoor) before they are forced to relocate. Rumors are persisting about that option.

Ironically, the Detroit Lions (6-2) are making the most noise in the NFC North this year, besides the Packers (7-1). The Lions haven't been in a NFC Championship game since 1991, and haven't won a NFL championship since 1957. They also have never been in a Super Bowl. The Lions have also suffered through 6 straight losing seasons.

But the Vikings are at Lambeau this Sunday and the Packers better be ready to play. Peterson is as dangerous as any runner in the NFL in many a year. The Minnesota defense has maybe the best set of defensive tackles in the NFL. You can't take the Vikings for granted as the Chargers found out last weekend. I believe the Packers will meet the challenge. Mike McCarthy has had the Packers ready for every weekly opponent in 2007, except for one. And the Packers know that they should have won that one as well against the Packers other rival ... the Bears.


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