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Free Head Exam: Minnesota Vikings

After the Minnesota Vikings' 24-21 victory Sunday over the Dallas Cowboys, here are three issues that merit further examination:

  1. I realize that quarterback Brett Favre has played in 290 consecutive games thanks to a combination of toughness and incredible genes. But it still has been amazing to watch him get up from regular pummelings even as quarterbacks around the league are being sidelined on a weekly basis. In this division alone, the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions have already had three quarterbacks take meaningful snaps. Sunday, Favre took three sacks and was hit after the pass on three other occasions, including a brutal rib shot from Cowboys linebacker Igor Olshansky. Favre said the play knocked the wind out of him and felt "pretty close to death," and afterward was sporting a pretty good welt on his right side. Can he really take 11 more games of this? Coach Brad Childress was mostly dismissive of the situation and hinted Favre had some culpability for holding the ball too long. Coldly, I thought, Childress added: "We're paying him enough every game. He's going to get hit."

  2. Receiver Randy Moss apparently had some choice but constructive words for teammates at halftime of Sunday's game. But I think his biggest impact has already come in the development of fellow receiver Percy Harvin. In the two games since Moss arrived, Harvin has caught eight passes for 118 yards and scored a total of three touchdowns. Harvin said that Moss "has already taught me so much," about refining his playmaking skills, but Harvin also appears genuinely inspired by playing alongside his longtime idol. The Vikings gave Harvin some time in the backfield Sunday and are working with him as a punt returner as well. Harvin could emerge as the top playmaker among an elite group of offensive players.

  3. Defensive end Jared Allen didn't add to his meager sack total but still was around the ball for much of the game and was disruptive throughout. Unofficial statistics credited him with three post-throw hits on Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. You would like for high-priced defensive ends to pile up the sack totals, but this was one game where Allen was clearly effective without a sack.

And here is one issue I don't get:

Are the Vikings poised to take control of a flawed division? It's certainly a compelling argument, given the offensive problems the Bears are experiencing and the injury situation that continues to mount for the Green Bay Packers. A win Sunday night at Lambeau Field would pull the Vikings ahead of the Packers in the NFC North standings. But the Vikings are a clearly flawed team in their own right, and there has to be something fundamentally wrong when a group of offensive players this talented continues to struggle. Regardless, the Vikings have an opportunity that didn't appear possible just a week ago.