After getting some time away, the Vikings have a three-game home stand that could put them in the driver's seat for the playoffs.
After beating the Green Bay Packers
on Sunday in Lambeau Field and then reporting to Winter Park on Monday to take care of various assignments, the Vikings are getting the remainder of the week off to enjoy their bye.
It's a well-deserved break.
With a 7-1 record halfway through the season, the Vikings are in the driver's seat in the NFC North with a 2½-game lead over the Packers (4-3) and Chicago (4-3). Actually, Minnesota's margin over Green Bay is even more comfortable because the Vikings swept the season series.
"(The bye) does come at a good time," coach Brad Childress said. "Just from the standpoint that these guys have been going at it for a very long time with the four preseason games and two weeks of training camp. So, we're reasonably healthy. Individuals can get healthier."
The Vikings will return Monday with an opportunity to begin working on clinching the division and locking up home-field advantage. At the halfway point, it appears as if Minnesota and New Orleans (7-0) are the class of the NFC. Coming out of the bye, the Vikings will have three consecutive home games during which they will face Detroit (1-6), Seattle (2-5) and Chicago.
That's not exactly a murderers' row of opponents and means the Vikings realistically could be 10-1 heading into December. Much of the Vikings' success has to be credited to the addition of quarterback Brett Favre
, who so far has truly proven to be the final piece to the offensive puzzle.
Childress said he has just been impressed with what he has seen from this team on and off the field.
"It is really a unique group of men," he said. "You do this for a while and you remember different teams. It's a good group of guys. They have tremendous chemistry together. They play for each other. ... And it's a different, it's a varied group of guys, as all you guys know that are in that locker room every day. A joy to come to work with these guys every day. Even though they need the time off, I know when time's up, they'll be anxious to get back and get on with it."
QB Brett Favre pulled a repeat performance on Sunday, beating his former Green Bay Packers teammates for a second time this season. This one came under extremely adverse conditions as Favre was booed loudly by angry Lambeau Field fans who could not believe he would return to Green Bay as a member of the archrival Vikings. How much did that bother Favre? He threw four touchdowns and no interceptions and finished with seven TD passes and no picks against the Packers this season. Favre's 16 touchdowns are tied for most in the NFL, and his three interceptions are among the fewest in the league.
QB Tarvaris Jackson continues to serve as Favre's backup with Sage Rosenfels as the No. 3 quarterback. Jackson has seen action in three games this season, but in each case it has been because the Vikings have had a comfortable lead and coach Brad Childress wanted to rest Favre.
RB Adrian Peterson was held under 100 yards rushing for the sixth time this season as he gained 97 yards on 25 attempts with a touchdown against Green Bay. The lack of 100-yard games isn't any cause for concern given the Vikings' many offensive weapons. Peterson's nine rushing touchdowns are second most in the NFL this season and tie his regular-season total from last season. He had 12 regular-season rushing touchdowns as a rookie in 2007.
RB Chester Taylor had five rushing attempts for 12 yards and caught two passes for 15 yards against the Packers. He did have one drop in the victory. Taylor, whose greatest values are his pass protection and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, is fourth on the Vikings with 24 receptions for 209 yards. Taylor was third on the team in 2008 with 45 catches.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe caught his sixth touchdown pass of the season on Sunday, putting him in a tie for second place in the NFL with four other players. That is three more than anyone else on the Vikings and only one fewer than Shiancoe had all of last season. Shiancoe hasn't been a target of Brett Favre as much as many expected — Favre's ability to spread the ball around is the biggest reason — but he does have 22 catches for 203 yards.
WR Bernard Berrian was able to play Sunday despite suffering a strained left hamstring the previous week against Pittsburgh. Berrian might not have been at full strength, but he managed to catch three passes for 47 yards with a touchdown. Berrian is 10 receptions behind team leader Sidney Rice and only one back of rookie Percy Harvin.
WR Percy Harvin has emerged as the leading candidate for NFL offensive rookie of the year honors after a standout performance at Lambeau Field. Harvin had five receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown of 51 yards and also averaged 35 yards on five kickoff returns. He set up touchdowns with returns of 77 and 48 yards. Throw in his 2 yards rushing, and Harvin finished with 261 total yards.
WR Sidney Rice has been the Vikings' most pleasant individual surprise of the first half of the season. He leads the team with 37 catches for 585 yards and two touchdowns. After back-to-back games of more than 100 yards receiving, Rice caught four passes for a modest 40 yards against the Packers.