Don't hand NFC to Vikings just yet
If there was one over-arching refrain I heard again and again Tuesday, it was that Brett Favre's signing makes Minnesota the hands-down favorite in the NFC and thus a slam-dunk Super Bowl contender.
Twenty seasons of covering the NFL has taught me this much: Whenever I hear that much conventional wisdom coalescing that quickly around one supposedly sure-fire outcome, it's got a great shot of being wrong.
Here then are a few reasons Favre and the Vikings shouldn't be booking their flights for Miami (site of Super Bowl XLIV) just yet:
Green Bay and Rodgers denying Favre another shot at playoff glory would be rich, eh? But then, we've already seen Favre and his Jets denied a playoff trip last year by Miami and
True, Minnesota's first four games don't appear to be its most challenging stretch by any measurement. The Vikings play at Cleveland, at Detroit, home against San Francisco and home against Green Bay. But maybe Minnesota starts 2-2 without their two dominating run-stuffers, rather than 3-1 or even 4-0. And maybe the difference winds up mattering greatly in the race for NFC playoff positioning.
The NFC East has sent the Giants twice and the Eagles once to the Super Bowl in that span. The NFC West has sent the Rams twice, the Seahawks once, the Cardinals once, and the Falcons once (when they were a member of that division in 1998). The NFC South has sent both Tampa Bay and Carolina to the Super Bowl this decade.
In fact, with just one Super Bowl qualifier in the past 11 seasons, the NFC North ranks last among the NFL's eight divisions in that department. The AFC South and AFC West are tied for next to last with two Super Bowl teams each in that span.
Making that kind of history is what the Vikings are now banking on, and I'm not convinced it's a good bet.
And I seem to remember the Eagles are loading up for another run at a Super Bowl ring, too. They even took a chance on some free-agent quarterback named
Oh, and somebody tell the Cardinals, Panthers and Falcons -- 2008 playoff teams all -- that the Vikings have been installed as conference favorites. All three teams have reason to believe they'll be heard from again this season.
That run could take a very big toll out of Favre as the Vikings head into their Week 9 bye and prepare for the season's second half. That's why the Vikings getting off to a good start in September is so crucial for their hopes of securing one of the NFC's top seeds and setting themselves up for the playoffs.
All told, Favre and the Vikings will play at both of last year's Super Bowl teams (Steelers and Cardinals), at Carolina in December when the Panthers are often at their best, at cold and windy Chicago three days after Christmas (at night, no less), and at Green Bay in the aforementioned return to Lambeau. Tough home games against the Packers, Ravens, Bears and Giants also loom. If the Vikings do win the NFC, it'll be no easy road.