MIN-CLE Matchup Report
Cleveland, OH - The Minnesota Vikings thought they had their new starting quarterback. Then, they didn't. Now, they finally have Brett Favre.
Favre and his newest team open the season Sunday afternoon when they visit the Cleveland Browns, who are trying to keep their signal-caller a mystery.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SPORTSBETTING.com have made the Vikings –4 point spread favorites (View NFL odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 80% of bets for this game have been placed on the Vikings -4 (View NFL bet percentages).
The Vikings went 10-6 to win the NFC North last season before falling to Philadelphia in the opening round of the playoffs. They got there by using Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback but felt an upgrade at the position was needed and acquired Sage Rosenfels from Houston for a fourth-round draft pick.
That still wasn't enough and the Vikings went through several months of courting Favre out of retirement. He waffled on the idea before finally signing a two-year deal last month.
Favre's decision to retire or not has played out for several offseasons, and he'll now return for his 19th season while making his 270th consecutive start Sunday, tying former Vikings defensive lineman Jim Marshall for the NFL record.
In March 2008, the future Hall of Famer announced his initial retirement after leading Green Bay to the NFC championship game. He changed his mind three months later and asked to be released by the Packers, who instead traded him to the New York Jets.
Favre led the Jets to an 8-3 record and first place in the AFC East before they dropped four of the last five to miss the playoffs. Much of the blame fell on Favre and coach Eric Mangini, who lost his job but was hired by the Browns in January.
Favre threw for 1,011 yards with two touchdowns and nine interceptions over the last five games after passing for 2,461 yards with 20 scores and 13 interceptions in the first 11.
He announced his retirement again before approaching the Jets for his release in February. The team complied, and he joined Minnesota on Aug. 18.
Despite Favre's late arrival to camp, the team feels it can be a factor in the conference.
"I feel like we're definitely jelling," running back Adrian Peterson said. "I feel like we're there, but there's always room to improve. We've still got some polishing. Just shine it up and buff it up a little bit and I think we'll be OK."
While Favre will be trying to prove he can still lead an offense, the Vikings will likely rely heavily on Peterson, who led the NFL with a franchise-record 1,760 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
One area for concern might be a hamstring injury that has sidelined wide receiver Bernard Berrian for two preseason games.
Berrian is expected to be Favre's primary target after leading the Vikings with 964 receiving yards and seven touchdowns on 48 catches - his fewest since he had 13 as a backup in Chicago in 2005.
Defensively, Minnesota is expected to be strong again after allowing a league-low 76.9 rushing yards per game while ranking fourth in the league with 45 sacks.
The unit is still uncertain as to who it'll be facing Sunday, as Mangini refuses to announce his starting quarterback.
Mangini has informed Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson of his decision, but Anderson may have revealed that Quinn will be the starter when asked if it will be tough to keep the secret.
"No," Anderson said following practice Wednesday, "because after this next two minutes are over I'm not going to be talking to you guys. It's pretty easy. Obviously, the rest of us have to go about our regular preparations and continue to do what we always do and just not talk to our families."
Cleveland went 4-12 last season and ended 2008 on a six-game losing streak while scoring one touchdown, getting outscored 45-0 in the last two games.
"I don't think anybody is in an awkward spot of trying to maintain a competitive advantage," Mangini said. "We all do that, and that's all of our goals, trying to do everything we need to do to win the game on Sunday."
Quinn has played four games since being drafted 22nd overall in 2007. He started three times last year, throwing for 518 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions before a broken index finger landed him on injured reserve.
Anderson's season also ended on IR as a torn MCL in his left knee limited him to 10 games. He had 1,615 yards with nine scores and eight interceptions. That came after a breakout 2007 when he earned a spot in the Pro Bowl for reaching career highs of 3,787 yards and 29 TDs with 19 interceptions.
"We've got to stay together," running back Jamal Lewis said of the QB controversy. "We can't really worry about that or concentrate on that. We have to concentrate on what we have to do and our job and what we're trying to accomplish no matter who's in there."
The Browns have dropped the last three meetings with the Vikings - all in Minnesota. They haven't met at Cleveland since the Browns won 23-17 in overtime Dec. 17, 1989.
Posted: 9/9/09 6:42PM ET