In 1995, Favre started a three-year run on the MVP award when he completed 63 percent of his passes for 4,413 yards – his first season with more than 4,000 yards – 38 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He followed that up by completing 60 percent of his passes for 3,899 yards, 39 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 1996. The following year, he was MVP again after completing 59 percent of his passes for 3,867 yards, 35 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
His passer ratings during those MVP years were 99.5, 95.8 and 92.6.
This year, Favre is completing 69 percent of his passes for projected numbers of 4,180 yards, 35 touchdowns, and four interceptions. Asked if this year compares to his three MVP seasons in the 1990s, he said yes.
"I think it's definitely comparable. I think the most important statistic, regardless of year, is wins and losses," he said. "I'll always say that … it's fair that a head coach gets labeled with wins and losses – he's in the charge of the whole team. But as a quarterback, it's a little unfair to say that he has X number of wins. You control a large part of the game, but not all the game. But they still give us that label and the most important statistic is more wins than losses. We've won a lot of games this year."
At 10-1, the Vikings are on pace for more wins than Favre has ever had in a single season. In Favre's first MVP season, the Packers were 11-5, followed by 13-3 in 1996 and '97.
Of course, if wins is the top barometer for an MVP candidate at quarterback, then Favre has plenty of competition at his position. The Colts' Peyton Manning and the Saints' Drew Brees are both undefeated at 11-0.
Brees just overtook Favre for the lead in quarterback rating this season, currently at 112.6 while Favre is at 112.1. Brees has 243 more yards (3,117), three more touchdowns (27) and six more interceptions (nine) than Favre through 11 games. The Saints have outscored their opponents 407-221 while the Vikings have outscored theirs 342-203.
Manning is completing 70 percent of his passes for 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and a rating of 102.5.
"I definitely think that in all the years I've play, I've played at a level to not hurt the team. Statistics sure help, but I think that goes hand in hand," Favre said. "You don't have to throw a lot of touchdowns to win. I think the first game of the year and maybe a couple others are maybe good examples. Nothing real flashy, but yet we won – I don't want to say convincingly, but we were able to use all the tools."
Favre has admitted several times since joining the Vikings that one of the reasons he decided to sign with the team was their cast of surrounding talent. Early on, that discussion revolved around running back Adrian Peterson, who led the league with 1,760 yards in 2008.
More recently, however, Favre's presence has helped catapult the Vikings' receiving corps not only into a relevant group but one of the more productive ones. Sidney Rice, who had 537 yards receiving in his two seasons in the league, has remained healthy and is suddenly only 28 yards off the NFL lead for receiving yards – he has 964 and Randy Moss has 992. Percy Harvin is fifth in the league with 21 third-down receptions, is one off the rookie lead in receptions (42) and leads his class in yardage (602).
"When called upon, all of our guys have stepped up to it. I just don't feel like I have to do it all," Favre said. "Maybe that's being a little bit older and little bit wiser, where in '95, '96, '97 I probably knew that but it was hard to restrain. I always felt like I could make every play. I still feel that way, but … at 40 years old, to me it's a lot easier to kind of question, do you think I can get the edge on this bootleg? I knew I could in '96, which was not always the case, but I sure thought I knew it all. I'm using discretion better and made plays when I need to."
Enough plays to put himself squarely in the MVP conversation a dozen years after he last won it.
"By far this is the most blitzes we've ever seen, or I've ever seen," he said. "Part of it is just the defense in general – Pittsburgh is a blitzing team, Baltimore a blitzing team, Green Bay a blitzing team. We're getting a heavy dose of that and we've handled it well."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.