Watch Video: Fantasy: WRs to sit and start.
Entering this season, it would not have been a big stretch to think Brett Favre could emerge from Week 4 with the all-time record for touchdown passes.
The Green Bay Packers ending it undefeated would have been a lot harder to fathom.
A record-setting year for Favre is becoming more memorable than many expected, with the Packers entering their matchup Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings as one of only two NFC teams which has yet to lose.
Throwing three touchdown passes in last Sunday’s 31-24 win over San Diego moved Favre into a tie with Dan Marino for the career record with 420.
“There’s no better feeling than winning. Those touchdowns were great because they gave us an opportunity to go up and win the game,” said Favre, who is the NFL’s all-time leader in completions (5,101) and is 10 attempts away from breaking Marino’s record of 8,358.
Favre tying Marino’s TD pass record so early in the season was not a big surprise since he entered 2007 just six shy of the mark, but few could have predicted the Packers (3-0) might still be unbeaten after he breaks it.
While the NFC’s only other undefeated team, Dallas, made the playoffs last year, Green Bay had to win its final four games just to finish 8-8 and didn’t seem to bolster its roster much in the offseason.
“It’s hard to luck into three straight wins like we have,” said Favre, who now tries to lead Green Bay to its first 4-0 start since 1998.
The Packers’ seven-game winning streak is the longest in the league currently and their best since 2002. They’re looking to win eight straight for the first time since a nine-game run which included their Super Bowl victory in 1997.
This contest will mark Favre’s 241st consecutive start, breaking a tie with former Minnesota center Mick Tingelhoff for the second-longest streak in NFL history. Former Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall tops the list at 270.
Last Sunday’s win was Favre’s 150th as a starter, one week after he broke John Elway’s league record as he had three TD passes in a 35-13 victory over the New York Giants.
“Every time he takes the field, he’s adding another log on the fire of such a brilliant career that will continue to burn, hopefully, for a while,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said.
Favre, whose 58,361 passing yards leaves him exactly 3,000 shy of Marino’s all-time record, has quickly quieted the critics who believed his days as an elite passer were over. The future Hall of Famer has a 93.5 quarterback rating - he finished below 73.0 the past two seasons - and has a 3-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio after having at least as many picks as TD passes in both 2005 and 2006.
While no quarterback other than Favre has started for Green Bay since 1992, the Vikings (1-2) already have had two this season.
Tarvaris Jackson, who had one TD pass and five interceptions through the first two games, sat out last Sunday’s 13-10 loss at Kansas City due to a strained groin. Kelly Holcomb got the start and didn’t commit a turnover but was relatively ineffective, going 14-of-28 for 165 yards and getting sacked five times.
While it’s uncertain if Jackson will be able to return or if Holcomb will start again, either way, Green Bay’s defense won’t be too concerned about Minnesota’s passing game and is likely to put extra players near the line to slow down Adrian Peterson.
The seventh overall pick in this year’s draft leads all rookies with 271 rushing yards, coming off his second 100-yard effort. Peterson also tops the Vikings with 160 receiving yards, and has had no fewer than 118 yards from scrimmage in any game.
“We’re doing some decent things in the run game and we are wiggling some people open in the pass game,” Vikings coach Brad Childress said. “If people are going to continue to crowd the box on us, we’re going to need look at opportunities to get up the football field.”
A lack of success offensively has canceled out a very strong start by the Minnesota defense, which has surrendered an NFC-low 36 points.
The Vikings run defense has been the conference’s best, allowing 67.3 yards per game, but is unlikely to be challenged much by a Packers ground game averaging a league-low 57.0 yards behind rookies Brandon Jackson and DeShawn Wynn. Minnesota is third in the NFL with 11 sacks and tied for fourth with five interceptions, including two by former Packers safety Darren Sharper.
“Our defense has played well enough for us to be 3-0,” Holcomb said. “Offensively we have to pick it up a little bit.”
Favre lost nine of his first 11 starts at the Metrodome, but has since won three of four games there while throwing for 1,221 yards with 10 TDs and two interceptions. He threw for 347 yards and two scores in last year’s 23-17 win at Minnesota.
“Historically it hasn’t been the best place for him and for us to go up and play,” Packers offensive tackle Mark Tauscher told the team’s official Web site. “But we’ve had a lot of success up there recently, and it’s going to be a big division game.
“I think it would be really fitting that at a place that’s given him so much trouble, and us as a team, it would be a great place to break the record.”