To tell the truth, neither the Vikings nor the Saints looked like Super Bowl contenders last night, except for the Saints' first drive. They looked so unstoppable in that drive that I thought they would score 40-50 points in the game. But not much happened after that drive, and the Saints ended up winning it, 14-9. Obviously, a team can start out the season slowly, and get it all together later. But last year, the Saints opened the season with victories by 18 points, 26 points, and 20 points. That turned out to be a good sign of things to come for the Saints. The Vikings also started out 3-0, but two of those games were against bad teams, and the third was one of those miracle Favre finishes against the 49ers.
Could Favre's late arrival at camp have anything to do with the team looking out of sync last night? Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune certainly thinks so, in an article titled "Pin This Loss on Favre's Belated Arrival." It is hard to argue with him, although the absence of Sydney Rice was certainly also a factor. Even Favre admitted that "I thought our timing was a little bit off." The Vikings made just enough mistakes to lose a game they easily could have won, especially after Saints kicker Garrett Hartley missed two field goals, which would have put the game out of reach by the middle of the 4th quarter. One of those mistakes, even though it didn't result directly in any points, was Favre's second quarter interception. This prompted SF Bay Area High School football player and Packer fan Scott Clendening to quip: "you know the NFL is back when Favre leads the league in interceptions."
So the season is off to a good start, with the Vikings at 0-1. A Packer victory against Philadelphia on Sunday would give them a one-game lead over the Vikings. When the Packers last had the kind of hype they have this year, in 1996, they started the season on a high note, beating the Buccaneers by 31, the Eagles by 26, and then the Chargers by 32, before some injuries started to kick in. They lost three games over the next eight weeks, and then never lost another game through and including the Super Bowl.
This week, we will start to see if the Packers can live up to the hype. I have not seen any of the Eagles' preseason games, and of course they have a new starting quarterback (Kevin Kolb) and a new starting running back (LeSean McCoy) since last year. The Packers have not had a good record at Philadelphia in recent years (that playoff loss at Philadelphia after the 2003 season still makes me shudder), so this will be an interesting test.