The Vikings still have five games to go, but their offense will far exceed what it did last year, both in scoring and explosive plays. No doubt Brett Favre is a major reason for that.
There is all sorts of statistical evidence to show just how potent the Vikings' offense has become now that quarterback Brett Favre
is running the show.
One of the most telling stats — in addition to Minnesota's 342 points, second most in the league, is the fact the 10-1 Vikings have as many pass plays of 20 or more yards this season (39) through 11 games as they did all of last year in the regular season.
Favre, given more freedom by coach Brad Childress than any quarterback to come before him, has done a masterful job of going through his reads and taking medium to long-range shots when he sees fit.
"I think it's being aggressive play-calling wise," Childress said of the explosive plays. "We used to use the conventional wisdom that you've got to take a couple shots a quarter, but you can be looking for a shot and calling a shot and if it's not there you have to be able to bring the ball to the next level, to the next level, to the next level.
"We've got some guys that are getting up the field. ... (Favre has) taken (his shots) where they're available, where there's good protection, where he's able to move and see. (Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell) is doing a nice job of calling those things. Truth be known, most of those plays are built from the top down. You're looking high and bringing it back down."
It doesn't hurt that Favre has a cast of receivers that is developing into one of the best in the NFL. Sidney Rice
and rookie Percy Harvin
are having terrific seasons, and Visanthe Shiancoe
might be the most underrated pass-catching tight end in the league. And that doesn't even include wide receiver Bernard Berrian
, who signed a big free-agent contract in 2008 to play for the Vikings.
In the Vikings' 36-10 victory over Chicago last week, Favre had five completions of more than 20 yards. Two of them went to Harvin. On Sunday, an Arizona defense ranked 29th against the pass will try to slow Favre and company.
"It just goes back to the play calling and executing," Rice said. "Brett goes through his reads and if he has somebody open down the field, he's going to take a shot, no matter who it is, tight end, wide receivers. He's going to get the ball down the field and we've just got to continue to make those big plays."
QB Brett Favre continues to put together big game after big game. In Sunday's 36-10 victory over the Bears, he threw for a season-high 392 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Favre finished with 48 pass attempts — his second-highest total of the season — as the Vikings eschewed the run for the pass after it became clear Chicago was going to do everything in its power to stop running back Adrian Peterson. Favre's yardage total was the fourth-highest of his 19-year career. The 40-year-old quarterback has now thrown 24 touchdowns and a remarkable three interceptions this season. His 112.1 passer rating leads the NFL and his 69.3 completion percentage is near the top of the league.
QB Tarvaris Jackson saw action in a game for the sixth time this season Sunday because the Vikings had established such a big lead. Unlike a week earlier when Jackson played the entire fourth quarter and completed six of eight passes against Seattle, he came in for only one series against the Bears and did not throw a pass. The good news for Jackson is he continues to be the No. 2 quarterback ahead of veteran Sage Rosenfels.
RB Adrian Peterson, the NFL's leading rusher in 2008, reached the 1,000-yard mark for the third consecutive season Sunday but that wasn't the main storyline after the victory. Peterson was stripped of the ball twice and had one turnover, giving him six fumbles (five lost) this season and continuing a troubling trend. Peterson now has 19 fumbles in two plus seasons and has lost 12 of them. The Bears put a focus on Peterson and held him to 85 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown. This wasn't a terrible day considering Peterson had been limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday because of an ankle injury and was then held out of practice Friday because of an illness. But Peterson's continued inability to protect the football is definitely a cause for concern at Winter Park.
RB Chester Taylor had four rushing attempts for 33 yards, including a 15-yarder, and caught six passes for 51 yards with a touchdown against the Bears. This came a week after the valuable backup had a season-high 73 yards rushing on 11 carries against Seattle. Taylor is now fifth on the Vikings with 33 receptions for 279 yards and a touchdown this season. He will be a free agent after the season and it will be interesting to see if the Vikings make an attempt to keep him.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe caught his eighth touchdown pass of the season on Sunday to tie Joe Senser's single-season record for most TD receptions by a Vikings tight end. Senser set the mark in 1981. Shiancoe finished with five catches for 51 yards and is tied for third on the Vikings with Bernard Berrian with 38 receptions.
WR Bernard Berrian caught six passes for 74 yards against his former team, the Bears. That is Berrian's most catches and receiving yards since he caught six passes for 74 yards in Week 4 against the Packers at the Metrodome. Berrian has struggled with injuries to both hamstrings this season and is averaging only 10.7 yards per reception after leading the NFL with an average of 20.1 yards per catch.
WR Percy Harvin, the front-runner for NFL offensive rookie of the year honors, continues to demonstrate that he already should be considered an elite player in this league. Harvin had his first 100-yard receiving game Sunday as he caught six passes for 101 yards with a touchdown. He also had two rushing attempts for 45 yards and the Bears made sure he was not able to return any kickoffs by either getting the ball deep into the end zone or kicking short. Harvin is now second on the Vikings with 42 receptions for 602 yards and his five touchdown catches are second to Shiancoe. Harvin also has two touchdowns on kickoff returns.
WR Sidney Rice had six receptions for 89 yards Sunday and continues to prove he's the Vikings' top receiver. Rice has a team-leading 56 catches and is near the top of the league with 964 receiving yards. He also has four touchdowns. Rice is averaging a team-high 17.2 yards per catch.
DE Jared Allen had two sacks against Chicago and is second in the NFL with 12 1/2. The remarkable thing is that 10 1/2 of Allen's sacks have come against NFC North foes Detroit, Green Bay and Chicago. Allen's only two sacks against non-NFC North teams came versus San Francisco and Baltimore.
CB Cedric Griffin had his best game of the season against the Bears, finishing with an interception, a tackle for a loss and four tackles. That last figure was one off the team lead for the game. Griffin's interception came on a nice diving catch in the end zone to end a Chicago drive in the second quarter. The Bears had gotten to the Vikings' 22-yard line and quarterback Jay Cutler was looking to hit rookie wide receiver Johnny Knox in the end zone.
CB Antoine Winfield has missed the past 5 1/2 games because of an injury to his right foot and it's not certain if he will be back this Sunday at Arizona. The Pro Bowl cornerback has been replaced by a combination of Benny Sapp, Karl Paymah and Asher Allen with Allen having been used in the nickel package.