Will Brett return? Al Dannity says the fate of the Vikings rests on the gunslinger’s decision.
Off-season changes Brett Favre retired. Actually no, Brett Favre reportedly retired but then was pushed back into the waiting arms of the Vikings. Or was he? It’s all really a mess but one we’ve become used to with Favre over the past five years. He’ll make his choice soon, possibly even as early as tonight. Whether he sticks to that decision is another matter entirely.
In more straight-forward news, Toby Gerhart will be Adrian Peterson’s back-up. The big NFL betting question surrounding the former Stanford star is whether he will be able to thrive with limited touches. Gerhart only truly dominated at Stanford when he was fed the ball consistently so adjusting to a third down back role could prove difficult. Minnesota’s efforts to shore up its secondary could have been better. Free-agent addition Lito Sheppard did little in the past two seasons to inspire confidence, while draft choice Chris Cook has potential but needs time to develop.
Mark your calendar With or without Brett Favre, the games against Green Bay in weeks 7 and 11 promise to be explosive. This rivalry is always intense and if Favre is back, and I expect he will be, then these games should decide who wins the NFC North.
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Outside of that great rivalry, the two big games to watch out for are in weeks 1 and 5. The Vikings open the season in the same place they finished last year, on the road in the Superdome. After losing the NFC Championship in overtime, Minnesota will be eager to spoil the Saints celebrations on opening night. Week 5 sees the Vikings hit the road again, this time for a meeting with the Jets.
The verdict The Vikings are certainly wounded after that NFC Championship disappointment, so the last thing they really need is a schedule filled with tough road assignments. That said this team has the talent, particular in its defensive front seven and wide receiver corps, to pull itself through to a double-digit win total. I say all of this on the assumption Brett Favre will be back. If Tavaris Jackson lines up under center, then don’t expect a playoff run from Minnesota.
I expect the Vikings to be in a season long battle with the Packers for top spot in the NFC North. It should go down to the wire but I like Minnesota to just about hold the edge with an 11-5 finish.