When he and the Minnesota Vikings resume play this weekend, they’ll be concerned with much bigger goals.
Favre and the Vikings look to take further control of the NFC North when they host the last-place Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Minnesota’s bye week arrived at a good time for the division leaders, who were coming off a 38-26 win over the Packers on Nov. 1. The most pressing concern was a groin injury to Favre, who doesn’t anticipate it being a problem.
Favre aggravated the injury during pregame warmups at Lambeau Field, but it didn’t seem to affect him as he threw for 244 yards and a season-high four touchdowns.
“It was a concern for the game. I made it through. With a week’s rest I think I’ll be fine,” Favre said Wednesday. “But I’m not going to make it a bigger issue than it is. It’s kind of a new thing for me.
“To play 18 some-odd years and not have anything like that probably worried me more than anything. But I think I’ll be fine.”
Favre, who set an NFL record with 271 straight starts when he led Minnesota to a 27-13 victory over the Lions on Sept. 20, needs to play in four more games to break the league record for consecutive regular-season contests by a non-kicker held by former Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall with 283.
“It’s kind of amazing,” Minnesota coach Brad Childress said of Favre. “He’s a 40-year-old that’s throwing to a 21-year-old in (Percy) Harvin and (Sidney) Rice.”
The Vikings’ win over the Packers two weeks ago gave them a sweep of the season series and control of the division. Minnesota will now look to expand on their lead during a three-game homestand that includes matchups with Seattle and North-rival Chicago.
“You can always say ‘We could have done this,’ or ‘We could have done that,’” Favre said. “I’m very pleased with where we are. … The expectations will continue to get higher … I consider that a good thing.”
Playing Detroit (1-7) is certainly a good way for Favre and the Vikings to start the second half of their schedule in the right direction. Favre is 24-9 in his career against the Lions and he threw for 155 yards and two touchdowns in September.
Minnesota has won 11 in a row at home against Detroit since the Lions’ 14-13 victory in 1997. Detroit has struggled to score at the Metrodome, averaging 15.8 points during the losing streak, while scoring a combined 20 points in the last two games there.
The Vikings, though, won’t have Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield(notes) available as they look to shut down the Lions again. Winfield said Friday that his injured right foot still isn’t quite ready, and he expects to return next week.
The Lions will try to find a way to contain Favre after allowing Matt Hasselbeck(notes) to throw for 329 yards last Sunday in the Seahawks’ 32-20 victory. Detroit, which has lost five straight overall and 16 in a row on the road, blew a 17-0 lead and gave up 25 consecutive points.
Stafford, the top pick of the 2009 draft, has thrown 12 interceptions and just five touchdowns. He ranks 30th in the league with a 55.9 passer rating.
Despite Stafford’s struggles, first-year coach Jim Schwartz is eager to see how the rookie fares in his second time facing the Vikings. He went 18 of 30 for 152 yards and threw one touchdown and two interceptions in September. Minnesota will be the first team he is facing for a second time.
“Anytime you go back a second time there’s recognition,” Schwartz said. “That goes for veteran players as well as a rookie, but I’m sure rookies, there’s a steeper learning curve … So yeah, it should definitely be an advantage for him.”
“There’s no issue there,” he said. “You always want to be winning games and happy and cheerful, but goodness gracious, if you had a camera on every person on every play, you could try to read between the lines on a million things.”
Schwartz may be more concerned with the lack of production from Johnson. In his first game since suffering a knee injury on Oct. 11, Johnson caught only two passes for 27 yards. In six contests, Johnson has 24 catches for 352 yards and one touchdown, which came against the Vikings.
Detroit is looking for its first road win since a 16-7 victory at Chicago on Oct. 28, 2007. The Lions have been outscored 151-71 in four losses away from home this season.