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Columnist
Want drama? Favre vs. Cutler good start
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 8/20/2009 12:12 AM

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Love him, hate him or just plain sick of him, Brett Favre has changed the face and dimension of the NFC North.

Favre has made the Minnesota Vikings a better team than they were before he signed with them Tuesday, and that directly affects Chicago and the Bears.

Not that it's a surprise to anyone following the story for the last eight months, because you knew he was going to end up in purple this year, if not black and blue after it.

Either way, Favre is really just what the Vikings' doctors ordered.

Even if he stinks, which he shouldn't if relatively healthy, he's better than the eminently forgettable Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels.

They have the best running back in football in Adrian Peterson and last season had the fifth-best rushing attack in the NFL even when everyone knew exactly what they were doing with the football.

The Vikes were 25th in passing, getting nothing out of the QB position, so even if Favre is as mediocre as he was last year for the Jets while playing with a torn biceps tendon, all he has to do is manage the game well and Minnesota is better.

With a good offensive line and running game, and a defense that ranked sixth in the NFL, what Minnesota lacked was the threat of a passing game, and Favre even at his advanced age can still play the game.

Let's not forget that he was very good two years ago for the Packers - before the biceps problem - when they went 13-3 and lost in the NFC title game to the Giants in OT on a blustery day at Lambeau Field.

Thing is, there won't be much bluster - outside of Bobby Wade - inside the Dome, and there won't be a lot of slipping in the mud, so passes that sailed in that game against the Giants, and last year at the Meadowlands, aren't going to this season.

A glance at the Minnesota schedule shows that along with eight games inside at home, Favre has only three road games after Nov. 1, and two are at Arizona and Carolina.

His only serious outdoor test will be in Chicago on Monday night, Dec. 28. (Ya think the NFL suspected this was coming?)

Without going overboard, because that's not the intention, the Vikings were a 10-6 team without a quarterback in 2008, and now they've got one who can play a little, knows the offense, and is one of the great play-action QBs of all time.

You can only imagine how effective he'll be at the goal line faking handoffs to Peterson and tossing to open receivers.

If Favre makes them just one game better, that's 11-5 and that's been good enough to win the division in four of the last six years.

It's also been more than enough to make the playoffs in each one of those seasons, and that would be one less spot for the Bears, any way you look at it.

So while the Vikings hired one of the top three QBs in history, he's definitely not what he once was, but he's still got something left in the tank.

The Vikes probably figured they were a decent QB away from having a real Super Bowl shot in a terrible conference, and they were right. Imagine Favre instead of Rex Grossman playing for the Bears in the Super Bowl a couple years ago.

Besides, Favre is good for the game. At a time when so many complain about a lack of personality and entertainment in sports, who brings more flair and attention to the sport than Favre?

He's looked like a clown while changing his mind a dozen times the last two years, but he hasn't done anything to hurt the game, and the only feelings he hurt belong to his fans in Green Bay.

You'll forgive me if I don't shed a tear for them.

Of course, the Bears at 9-7 missed the postseason by only a game and they believe they also got better over the summer by acquiring the Johnny Unitas of this millennium.

On the field, he won't get the chance to prove what he is for another month. Off it, there's plenty of evidence already, not to mention the opinion of some trusted names, that he's just not the type who can play well with others.

That will undoubtedly be irrelevant if Cutler wins, and he can run for senator if he beats Minnesota here in late December, a contest that may very well determine the division winner.

You want flair? You want drama? You want personality?

If it all falls right, that night could have Brett Favre vs. Jay Cutler, the king vs. the prince, battling for a playoff spot on national TV, in the snow on Chicago's lakefront.

Doesn't get more dramatic than that.