Without a doubt, Sunday afternoon’s matchup against the Green Bay Packers at Mall of America Field is the most important game of the season – for both teams.
With a Vikings win, the Purple would move into 2 games of the Packers in the divisional standings – and the same with the Chicago Bears if they lose to Miami tonight. But if Green Bay comes out victorious, the Packers would jump 4 games ahead of the Vikings with 6 to play, and those numbers don’t bode well for Minnesota reaching the postseason.
History shows that the Vikings home-field advantage has done the same justice as a neutral site would, with the Minnesota-Green Bay rivalry posting a 5-5 record at Mall of America Field over the past decade. But the Vikings have won the last 2 contests at home against the Packers, and will need to extend that streak to 3 if they want to extend their playoff aspirations.
And if playing at home with your backs against the wall and the season dangling by a thread isn’t enough motivation to pull out all the stops, how about playing your former team of 16 seasons for most likely the last time in your career for added incentive?
“No, I haven’t really,” Vikings QB Brett Favre replied when asked if he had any thoughts on playing the Packers for a final time. “We obviously need a win. That’s my focus and hopefully our team’s focus is winning this football game, as it was last week and the week before. We can’t be concerned about anything else but winning the football game. There’s no time to think about those types of things.”
The 20-year veteran’s response to such a question speaks volumes to how a player should approach any game on a week-to-week basis, and the wills of each player’s character will be tested during Sunday’s pivotal NFC North showdown.
“Ultimately you’ve got to want to play for yourself,” Favre said. “All of those qualities that are expected of you really are even more important at this point. Your true character can show. Hopefully our guys will take that approach. I think they will and have. We’ve just got to get a win.”
Oh, and by the way, Sunday’s battle between the Vikings and Packers will mark the 100th meeting between the 2 teams in their storied rivalry, and former Vikings DE John Randle will be awarded his Hall of Fame Ring during halftime. And I can’t imagine Mr. Randle wanting to see anything less than a Vikings victory over a team he collected 14.0 sacks against in 11 seasons with the franchise.
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