Tice Looking for Upset

Reality would predict a Packers blowout Sunday. They have a chance to clinch a division title faster than anyone since the advent of the 16-game regular season schedule. Yet, the Packers aren't be viewed by many -- even themselves -- as a lead-pipe lock.

The curse of the Metrodome is weighing heavily coming into Sunday's Vikings-Packers game.

The numbers speak volumes. Brett Favre is 2-8 in his career at Metrodome. One of the few times he was ever benched in his career was two years ago at Metrodome. The Packers would have won the NFC Central last year if not for a 35-13 caning at Metrodome. In 10 games here, Favre has 10 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

So it isn't surprising that Las Vegas refuses to make the Packers more than a seven-point favorite. Some say seven. Some say 6-1/2. The Vikings aren't getting a lot of respect this season, but name the last 2-7 team facing a 8-1 team that has been this close of an underdog.

When these teams meet again in Week 14 at Lambeau, our guess is the Packers will be a double-digit favorite – most likely 13 points. Why so different here? There's an aura that came over this rivalry in recent years after a chant of "Reg-gie!" embarrassed Vikings fans to their limits.

The proof is in the pudding. In Pro Football Weekly, games are predicted by the point spread. Given a spread of 6-1/2 points, none of the 11 PFW prognosticators picked the Vikings to win, but six of 11 picked them to cover. The Vikings may not be turning any heads, but, when it comes to home games vs. the Packers, the faith is there not to bet against a huge upset.

* When the Vikings meet the Packers at Lambeau again in Week 14, it will be Favre's 160th consecutive start – the equivalent of 10 straight years as a starter. Expect a lot to be made of it then. You can bring it up now.
* What makes a rivalry great? Sunday will be the 82nd career meeting between the Vikings and Packers. Both teams have been dominant during the series, yet neither ever got a stranglehold on the rivalry. Through 81 games, you can't get tighter than this – the career head-to-head record is 40-40-1 – as it should be.
* From the Merrill Hoge Can Choke on This Department comes this: Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said Randy Moss had the best blocking day he's seen from a wide receiver last week. Dogged for playing when he wants to, Moss worked his tail off last week, including a key block that sprung Michael Bennett for a 78-yard TD run.
* Moss has seven TDs in eight games vs. the Packers and has averaged more than 100 yards a game.
* Moe Williams could set a new team record by scoring a TD Sunday. He has scored in six straight games, tying a record set by Bill Brown in 1968.
* Vikes fans shouldn't be shocked that Williams is the main rushing TD guy despite not being the featured back. In 1999, Robert Smith ran for 1,015 yards and scored two TDs. Leroy Hoard had just 555 yards, but scored 10 TDs.
* Turnovers may never have been at a bigger disparity than what we'll see in Sunday's game. In the giveaway-takeaway department the Vikings are minus-16, while the Packers are plus-15 – which may explain why Green Bay is 8-1 and the Vikes are 2-7.
* Coach Mike Tice said DE Kenny Mixon is a "50-50" prospect to play Sunday.
* VU has been told by a Packers source that DT Cleditus Hunt, a question mark most of the week, will start Sunday's game.
* Former Viking Cris Carter was released from a Miami hospital Friday after evaluations for a kidney ailment failed to show any serious condition. Carter and the Dolphins, from what VU was told Friday, are expecting Carter's return to be the Dec. 1 game vs. Buffalo.

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