Sunday slant: Seven for Sunday

There is a bad taste still in the mouth from last Sunday's Vikings game, but there are some reasons for Minnesota to feel good about its chances in Chicago. We take the bad from last week, opine on it, kick it to the curb and make way for Monday Night Football.

The Monday morning quarterbacks woke up each day last week as if it were groundhogs day, getting a new nugget to chew on when it came to the controversy surrounding Brett Favre and Brad Childress. Holiday cheer took a back seat while coaches and players reacted to the situation, and former players and fans criticized one or the other.

It can be a black and white world if we want it that way. All or nothing. Favre or Childress. But when analyzing the big picture, there are more colors that enter in. Here is how I see it in the first of seven points for Sunday consideration:

Point One: Picking through different reports of audible frustration and quarterback preservation, I split the blame between Favre and Childress. In last Sunday's game, I can't fathom why Childress would consider benching Favre to protect him when the Vikings were looking at a golden opportunity to try to compete for the top seed in NFC. Protect Favre when the team's position in the playoffs is secured, and not before that. The stubborn old quarterback hasn't missed a game almost 300 contests. Chances are he isn't going to miss one with the Vikings making a push for the playoffs. I'm not against benching struggling quarterbacks – I've advocated it during stretches when Daunte Culpepper struggled – but don't pull a future Hall of Famer who brought you to this far after only two-plus quarters of ineffective play. Finally, imagine the reaction of fans if Tarvaris Jackson had come in and the Vikings ended up with the same 26-7 loss they suffered. Fans would have called for Childress' head, believing Favre would have never let that happen since he had a 7-6 lead when that "heated" sideline conversation took place.

Now, Favre holds some accountability in the equation too. If reports of him audibling out of runs late in games against the Packers are true, I wouldn't blame Childress for benching him there. His long incompletion to Bernard Berrian out of bound at Lambeau Field was a gutsy – and stupid – play. Take the time off the clock and accept the win graciously instead of trying to stick it to the Packers by piling on another touchdown. Lucky for Favre the Packers didn't get an interception return for a touchdown, and lucky for him that Sidney Rice showed strong resolve in recovering a couple of onside kicks in that game to allow Favre to kneel down. In the second Packers game, Favre's touchdown pass to Berrian helped seal the win, but it was also a dangerous looking pass, throwing between defenders who appeared to have a chance on the ball.

So I call it a case of Bad Brett at the end of both of the Packers games before it was Bad Brad considering pulling the plug on a competitive guy looking to play his way through a less-than-stellar performance. Now chest bump and move on.

Point Two: Favre can put the whole thing behind him with a solid performance Monday night against the Bears. In his last meeting with Chicago, he had 392 yards, three touchdowns and 112.5 rating. If he could find a way to equal that, he would have his ninth season with 30 touchdowns or more and it would be his ninth game this season with a passer rating of at least 100, which would be a team record. He currently shares the mark at eight with Culpepper (2000 and 2004) and Randall Cunningham (1998). However, in order to do that, Favre will be fighting a negative statistic. According to ESPN Stats & Information, it's been almost eight years since Favre has won on the road when the game-time temperature is 37 degrees or colder. In the past seven road games in those conditions, his team has lost, with six of those being double-digit losses.

Point Three: Another player who could use a good game is Adrian Peterson. He has gone five games without a 100-yard rushing performance, the longest drought of his career. In 2007, he went four games without a 100-yarder at the end of the season. Last year, the longest he went without hitting the century mark was three games. This year, he had a streak of four games earlier in the season and now is hoping to end a five-game streak.

Peterson has averaged 127.8 yards per game against the Bears and needs only 65 yards to join Hall of Famers Earl Campbell and Barry Sanders as the only players with at least 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of their first three years in the league. His first game at Soldier Field resulted in a 224-yard rushing performance, which was a team record at the time. Last year, Peterson had 121 yards in Chicago. Why the success there?

"Just playing in Walter's Payton place. Chicago. Soldier Field. There's just so much history there and tradition," Peterson said. "Just being a Walter Payton fan. I'm always pumped up for that game, especially in Chicago. Plus, I love playing on grass fields, so I think that helps a little bit."

Point Four: Last year Bryant McKinnie was disappointed to have missed the first four games of the season and felt that's what kept him from Pro Bowl consideration. He was obviously frustrated by that, but if he wants to be considered a Pro Bowl player, he needs to play like it more consistently and against Pro Bowl competition like Julius Peppers. Two sacks yielded, a false start and a holding penalty on national television won't help others' opinions of McKinnie's play.

Point Five: Speaking of the Pro Bowl, is it time to change the way players are elected for that honor? With the Washington Redskins dominating the fan voting last year and the Vikings doing it this year, it's time to call the fan vote what it is – a farce that only really generates page views at The fan vote is a nice concept, but not limiting the amount of times a fan can vote automatically calls the legitimacy into question. Even players don't watch enough film of other players around the league to feel good about their vote. Maybe it's time to give votes only to head coaches, coordinators and a few advance scouts from teams.

Point Six: With Jamarca Sanford and Jasper Brinkley making their first starts two weeks ago, the Vikings had each of their five draft picks make a start this season. On a playoff-bound team, that would indicate some good drafting, but they are far from alone. This just might end up being a record-breaking year for rookies to make starts. Entering Week 16, the NFL saw 118 rookies start at least one game this season. Since the NFL went to a seven-round draft in 1994, the record is 141 rookies making a start in one season (2004).

Extra Point: Some of the stats for Monday night's game that indicate a big advantage for the Vikings. Peterson is the Vikings' leading rusher with 1,235 yards and 15 touchdowns; the Bears' Matt Forte leads his team with 754 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Sidney Rice leads Minnesota with 71 catches for 1,144 yards; Devin Hester paces Chicago with 54 catches for 682 yards. The Vikings are plus-5 in turnover ratio; the Bears are minus-9. Jared Allen leads the Vikings with 13.5 sacks; Alex Brown leads Chicago with four.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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