Brett Favre returns to Lambeau Field, and while doing so in a Minnesota Vikings uniform still qualifies as huge news — he threw for 244 yards and four touchdowns after being greeted by a cacophony of boos upon his return last year — both teams have bigger issues than the prodigal quarterback’s return. The injury-ravaged Packers have lost two straight, while the Vikings are trying to recover from a 1–3 start.
Keys for the Packers
• The Packers’ injury problems have claimed key player after key player, but finally, some good news might be coming on the defensive side of the ball. There’s hope that linebacker Clay Matthews (8.5 sacks), who pulled his troublesome left hamstring against Washington on Oct. 10, will return. Also, two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Al Harris and safety Atari Bigby are poised to be activated off the physically unable to perform list, bolstering the secondary.
• Aaron Rodgers isn’t the only one to blame, but following back-to-back three-point losses in overtime, the Packers quarterback is hearing a lot about his 1–11 record in games decided by four points or fewer. Most of those losses (seven) came in his first season as a starter (2008), but the Packers are 1–3 in such games this year, with the only victory coming over Detroit on Oct. 3 (28–26). Truth is, Rodgers’ pedestrian play on third downs is the greater concern after he led the NFL in third down passer rating (133.5) last year.
Keys for the Vikings
• Favre has wanted to play with Randy Moss for years, and one of the reasons for his falling out with Packers GM Ted Thompson was Thompson’s failure to acquire Moss from the Oakland Raiders in 2007. Having finally gotten his wish, Favre now gets to throw passes to Moss instead of watching Moss destroy his Packers teams. In 14 career games against Green Bay, Moss has 70 catches for 1,313 yards (18.8-yard average) and 14 TDs.
• The Vikings’ 38–26 win at Lambeau Field last Nov. 1 was a remarkable one, given the emotion involved for Favre, who had been king of Green Bay for 16 years. But it was also notable for a troubling reason: The Vikings haven’t won a road game since. Counting the playoffs, the Vikings are 0–6 on the road since beating the Packers that day. They were 7–1 in eight road games before that.
As many dramatic storylines as there are — Favre vs. Rodgers, Favre vs. Mike McCarthy, Favre vs. Ted Thompson — the game is more about two teams desperate for a victory in a mediocre division. “It’s definitely a different feeling than last year, as two teams that haven’t started the way I’m sure they wanted to,” Rodgers said. “I think it’s more on the teams than the individual players this week.” Vikings 27–24.