Senior writer jclombardi highlights Packers headlines about Favreageddon III.
Packers vs Vikings preview: When: 7:20 p.m. Sunday. Where: Lambeau Field. TV: NBC. Radio:AM-620. Line: Packers by 3. Weather: 59, showers. Series:Packers lead, 49-47-1. THINGS TO WATCH: On the Move–E Allen & DE Edwards vs OTs Clifton & Bulaga. Tough guy–Struggling Vikings offensive line. Kicking-–Vikings have edge. Really? Main Attraction–Vikings all-pro RB Peterson.
Things to watch: Injury report: DE Mike Neal (shoulder) and LB Brady Poppinga (knee) are out. G/T Marshall Newhouse (back) is doubtful. LB Clay Matthews (hamstring), LB Brandon Chillar (shoulder), DE Ryan Pickett (ankle) and RT Mark Tauscher (shoulder) are questionable. LT Chad Clifton (knee), S Nick Collins (knee), WR Donald Driver (quadriceps), LB A.J. Hawk (groin), DE Cullen Jenkins (hand) and CB Charles Woodson (toe) are probable. Close, but…: Aaron Rodgers readily admits he doesn’t have an explanation for it, but he certainly recognizes how ugly the numbers are. Packers quarterback owns a hideous 1-11 record in the team’s 12 games decided by four points or fewer. When roughly a quarter of you 38 regular-season starts have been decided by that margin, and your team has won just once, you can’t avoid the truth. “We need to do a better job. There’s no doubt about it.” Gathering Moss: It’s the man Packers fans love to hate: Wide receiver Randy Moss, who essentially launched his career on a rainy Monday night in October 1998, when he caught five passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Favre’s Packers, is coming back to Lambeau Field for the first time since fake mooning the crowd after a touchdown catch in an NFC Wild Card playoff game following the 2004 season. No turnstile jumping: When someone asked Jared Allen last year which left tackles had given him the best mano-a-mano battles during his career, Allen’s answer was singular: “Me and [Chad] Clifton up in Green Bay,” Allen said, “have had some good battles.” Migraine headaches: Having seen wide receiver/returner/running back/jack-of-all-trades Percy Harvin sidelined by migraine headaches more than a few times over the past two seasons, Childress decided he had the perfect name for the offensive plays he’s installed specifically for Harvin. Anytime you have a player who’s that multi-dimensional, it poses problems, and you have to prepare for it,” McCarthy said. “Percy definitely fits in that category. They’re doing a good job with moving him around to create targeting issues with us defensively.” Favre factor: When Brett Favre returns to Lambeau Field in a Minnesota Vikings uniform, it still qualifies as huge news. But unlike last year’s Favreageddon, the prodigal quarterback returns with a host of other issues in tow. It will be fascinating to see how he plays when it’s not just the boos that are there to distract him. Prediction: Favre’s second game at Lambeau Field as a visitor ends in a loss. Packers 31, Vikings 27.
Fans expected to tune in as Favre’s world turns (amusing, albeit midwest twist, story by lovely Lori): They say it takes two years to get over a divorce. Tell that to Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre fans. It doesn’t matter that it has been more than two seasons since Favre left Green Bay and headed to the New York Jets. It doesn’t matter that it has been more than a year since Favre then took up a new residence across the border with the rival Minnesota Vikings. They’re not over it. Coping, maybe. Exhausted, at times, over discussing the whole thing to death, for sure. But emotional and opinionated and more interested than ever. The anticipation for this Vikings at Packers game Sunday night has been building all season and went on full tilt last week. Conversations at the gym, lunch tables and grocery store aisles have turned away from election races and gorgeous fall weather and on to the game, the Packers and Favre. Green Bay’s storied history has meant many great contests against Minnesota and Chicago. But this game has taken on even extra meaning for fans for two unique reasons. Favre has declared that this is definitely his final year in the NFL. That means this game at Lambeau will be, barring a terrific playoff matchup in January, the last chance for the Packers to beat Favre wearing royal purple and gold on Lambeau Field.
Does Rodgers have what it takes to lift Packers in big games? (amusing–from lovely Nickel): Aaron Rodgers has won a lot of games with Green Bay, but critics point to Rodgers and the Packers being 0-5 in overtime games and 1-11 in games that have been decided by four points or fewer. He’s won respect for his arm, his discipline and his demeanor. The next challenge awaits: Sunday night at Lambeau Field against the Minnesota Vikings and their legendary field leader, Brett Favre. This particular test comes at a tough time. Rodgers is playing with fewer weapons because of injuries to key players, is throwing more interceptions than he’d like, is just two weeks removed from a concussion and is leading a Packers team that has dropped three of its last four games. But that’s what leadership is about, he said – lifting the people around you. Can he win the big one? Others have doubts. Rodgers and the Packers are 0-5 in overtime games and 1-11 in games that have been decided by four points or fewer. And 13 of the last 15 games between Minnesota and Green Bay have been decided by seven points or fewer. Rodgers accepted his share of responsibility last week. Doubts that Rodgers can lead Green Bay in crunch time are not evident among his teammates. “I don’t think you can put it all – any of it – on his shoulders,” said receiver Greg Jennings. “We win as a team, we lose as a team. One individual can’t win or lose a game.” Said receiver Donald Driver: “You can’t put that all on him. He has 10 other guys around him that have to play at a high level, as well. He’s a leader, but it’s not just him. That’s on all of us.” Rodgers knows there is only one way to answer the questions, find the way to lead his team to victory in big, close games. It is the very way he’s gotten the last word on critics before. He’s always been driven to prove wrong the many people who have doubted him.
Commentary: Lonely lovely Lori raised a good point; as coach McCarthy said, it has become a situation and an issue. The answer involves the intangible things in football and life. Discipline, leadership, visioner, and gamer are important intangible qualities in a leader, whether in the sports, business, or political arenas. For many organizations, they talk a good game about these priceless intangible skills in organizations, but they only pay lip service thinking hard skills are enough. As an example, employees are promoted because they had most experiences, but they lack the soft skills that organizations claim to be looking for these days. How do you spell short and not over the top? Why bother considering the culture? Meanwhile, the results will speak for themselves in a coming brutal part of the schedule. Meanwhile, we doubt anything will change in the long term. For the Packers organization and their wonderful fans, this season will come down to whether or not to blame injuries for its shortcomings and fleeting run toward the playoffs. We shall see.