Final Word: NFC North

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 9:

Bring earplugs. That's usually the advice to opponents who arrive at the Metrodome. This weekend, however, Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress might want to join in. At the very least, there is a rabid and vocal minority of Vikings fans whose discontent is running deep following Childress' decision to waive receiver Randy Moss. Sunday, we'll find out how widespread their displeasure is. Two years ago, fans rained down chants of "Fire Childress" during a sloppy victory over the Detroit Lions. At least in the early going Sunday, the Vikings face the possibility of a toxic atmosphere that offers little home-field advantage. It's nothing that a few early touchdowns couldn't eradicate, but remember this: The Vikings have scored only 21 points in the first quarter of their seven games this season.

Brett Favre is still here. The Childress-Moss brouhaha all but eclipsed the fact that the Vikings quarterback practiced sparingly this week while dealing with elbow tendinitis, two fractures in his foot and a gash in his chin that required 10 stitches to close. We all know Favre is the Bionic Man and all, but at what point will all the king's horses and all the king's men not be able to put him back together again? We all know Favre is struggling to make it through games based on performance alone, having thrown 11 interceptions in 211 attempts. His 5.4 interception percentage would be the worst of his career. But in all seriousness, how many times will Favre bounce back from the type of hits he's taking? I have no doubt the Arizona Cardinals want to find out.

Switch-up. There has been a lot of talk about the presumed matchup between Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson and All-Pro New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. But are we 100 percent certain that it will happen? It was only a month ago, after all, that the Jets assigned the bigger Antonio Cromartie to Minnesota Vikings receiver Randy Moss and had Revis chase slot man Percy Harvin. Cromartie did an excellent job on Moss for the most part, although Moss did beat him for a third-quarter touchdown. You wonder if the Jets won't repeat that pattern when they go to single coverage. Cromartie has more size to battle Johnson than Revis does. Just a thought.

Relief. You have to wonder if the Dallas Cowboys' defense will be the necessary tonic to get the Green Bay Packers' offense on track heading into their bye. The Cowboys are allowing nearly 27 points per game and have generated only 10 turnovers, the ninth-lowest mark in the league. The Packers are in position to take some control of the NFC North by taking a game they should win at Lambeau Field. A victory would put them at 6-3 heading into their bye week with the prospects of getting a number of injured players back into the rotation afterward. Receiver Donald Driver (quadriceps) should be back in action by then, and the Packers should also have safety Atari Bigby (ankle) and cornerback Al Harris (knee) back no later than then.

The value of a bye. It will be fascinating to see what the Chicago Bears come up with Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. The Bears have had two weeks to study their offensive problems, and it would be a case of gross negligence should no adjustments be obvious. Here's what quarterback Jay Cutler told Buffalo-area reporters: "We've tried getting rid of the ball quicker and quicker so it's something that we definitely went into detail about over the bye week and we think that we've got everything solved." He also said that the Bears' pass-protection problems at times have distracted him from reading defenses downfield. All of that needs to end. The Bears have to find a way to get Cutler functioning at a higher level immediately. They might be able to beat the Bills no matter how Cutler plays, but there aren't many other teams on their schedule you can say that about.