Two mediocre teams in a lousy division of a crummy conference.
In effect, that's what the so-called showdown for the NFC North Division championship Friday afternoon at the Metrodome is all about.
Perhaps the most crucial factor is the quarterback matchup between Green Bay's Brett Favre and Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper.
Favre, 35, owns a 5-3 record against the Vikings with Culpepper as the starter. For the Vikings to win, the 27-year-old Culpepper probably has to outplay the future Hall of Famer.
Culpepper, with a passing rating of 110.1 and a completion mark of 69.9 percent, is having a career season. But three assistant coaches for teams that recently played the Vikings all predicted the Packers would win mainly because of Favre, whose rating of 88.7 represents an average year by his standards.
"I'd never bet against Brett in a big game," one coach said. "For some reason Green Bay isn't playing with a lot of emotion. There's something missing. I know they didn't play well the last two weeks, but Daunte still makes mistakes. I think the Packers are the better team."
Favre passed for 367 yards but also threw three interceptions and several more near interceptions Sunday in a 28-25 loss to Jacksonville.
"I'm going with Brett because he ain't going to make mistakes two weeks in a row," another coach said. "If he doesn't try to win the game by himself and just plays within their system, I don't think the Vikings can hold up against him and the Packers' running game. I don't think Daunte is playing as well as he did earlier."
A third assistant pointed out that the Vikings' defense has been consistently worse than the Packers'.
"I know the Packers have had problems in domes and their defense has been bad, but I would think that Brett should be able to throw the ball against that secondary," he said. "Minnesota's defense isn't very good. It will be a shootout, if anything. How Green Bay holds up against their offense is the question. How they handle the noise will be the big thing."
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