Game means something in standings, too

The talk all week and weekend long surrounds Brett Favre, which is an intriguing storyline. However, the Vikings-Packers game means something more important in the standings. Maybe that will help the players focus.

And now the moment for which so many have been waiting: Brett Favre's return to Lambeau Field.

Since the day that Favre joined the Vikings in August, many have wondered just what it will be like for the quarterback to set foot on Lambeau as not only a visitor but one playing for one of Green Bay's biggest rivals.

We will find out what the reaction will be like on Sunday afternoon when much of the NFL's fan base turns its attention to Wisconsin.

Favre and Vikings coach Brad Childress will spend the week attempting to downplay this story and while that's to be expected it's also going to be in vain. Favre, who spent 16 seasons building a Hall of Fame resume in Green Bay, underwent an ugly divorce from the franchise in the summer of 2008 when he decided he had made a mistake by retiring.

The short version of the story is that the Packers decided they had moved on with Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback, so Favre tried to get his release to sign with the Vikings. Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson had no interest in seeing Favre in purple and traded him to the New York Jets. Favre spent a season in New York, retired again and was then released.

That cleared the way for him to land with the Vikings - he signed on Aug. 18 after one preseason game - and Favre has Minnesota off to a 6-1 start. One of those victories came in a Monday night game on Oct. 5, when Favre guided his new team to a 30-23 victory over the Packers.

The game generated plenty of interest because it was the first time in his 19-year career Favre had faced Green Bay, but it also was played at the Metrodome. This time Favre is going to face his former team on his old turf.

Even Favre admits he has no idea what to expect from a crowd that used to adore him. And that's what will make this so interesting. Linebacker Ben Leber said he hasn't given much thought to what it will look like to see Favre in Vikings colors in the Packers stadium.

"Certainly it's not going to be as big of shock to me as it is for those 65,000, 70,000 people that are going to be there," Leber said. "I'll be curious to see what they have to say."

Beyond the Favre story line, this game also is a big one for the Vikings and a huge one for the Packers. The Vikings are still in excellent shape despite last Sunday's loss at Pittsburgh. The Packers need to make up some ground on Minnesota and have won back-to-back games over Detroit and Cleveland.

A victory would pull the Packers to 5-2 and put them a half-game back of the Vikings. They also would have a split of the season series and could tie the Vikings in the standings with a victory at Tampa Bay the following week because Minnesota will have its bye.

However, a Vikings victory would put them at 7-1, give them a sweep of Green Bay and drop the Packers to 4-3.

All of this will give Childress and Favre plenty of reasons to say the focus of this game should be, well, the game. But the reality is that come Sunday all eyes will be on the guy wearing No. 4 in the visitor's uniform.

SERIES HISTORY: 97th regular-season meeting. Packers lead, 49-46-1. They are 25-22-1 at home against the Vikings. The Vikings beat the Packers, 31-17, in their only playoff meeting during the 2004 season and also defeated the Packers, 30-23, on Oct. 5 at the Metrodome in Brett Favre's first matchup against his former team.


  • The Vikings stand to be without cornerback Antoine Winfield for a second consecutive week and likely will substitute for him much like they did last Sunday in Pittsburgh.

    The scheme drawn up by defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier utilized Karl Paymah, Benny Sapp and rookie Asher Allen. Because the Steelers throw the ball so much, the Vikings spent a good portion of the game in nickel and often used Paymah at left corner and Sapp in the nickel.

    But at times Sapp, who normally plays in nickel, moved to left corner. Allen also played in the slot in the nickel at times. All three corners did a nice job as Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers' second-ranked passing offense finished with 175 yards.

    The other twist the Vikings used was having right corner Cedric Griffin line up against Santonio Holmes at times even on the left side.

  • WR Bernard Berrian did not practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury and his availability for Sunday's game could be in question. He did do some light running during practice.

  • LB E.J. Henderson did not practice Wednesday because of a knee injury. It's not known if he's in jeopardy of missing a game. He did some light running on Wednesday.

  • CB Antoine Winfield did not practice Wednesday because of a foot injury and he could miss a second consecutive game.

  • DT Jimmy Kennedy did not practice Wednesday because of a non-football related injury.

  • QB Brett Favre was limited in practice Wednesday because of a hip issue but he's expected to be fine.

  • LB Jasper Brinkley was limited in practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury.

  • LB Ben Leber was limited in practice Wednesday because of a calf injury.

  • CB Karl Paymah was limited in practice Wednesday because of a quadriceps injury.

  • WR Darius Reynaud was limited in practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury.

  • FB Naufahu Tahi was limited in practice Wednesday because of a knee injury.

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