Vikings, Cowboys' struggles great for fans

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre most likely will be playing this weekend. (Reuters...

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre most likely will be playing this weekend. (Reuters files)

MIKE GANTER, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:05 PM ET

TORONTO - Technically we are still about three months from actual playoff football but that’s not how the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings are feeling this weekend.

Both teams have played themselves into the scenario where a loss this weekend means their respective playoff hopes become a pipe dream.

At 1-3, one of these two under-performing powerhouses is going to come out of the weekend 1-4 and looking at an incredibly tough, but not impossible, climb back into the playoff hunt.

The good folks in the NFL P.R. offices were kind enough to do all the legwork for us and have established that in the past 20 years only 12 teams that were three games under .500 or worse after Week 5 of a season have gone on to actually make the playoffs.

So it is possible ... just not likely.

The big winner in all of this is the casual football fan — and we’ll eliminate the Vikings and Cowboys fans from this because the stress level will suck any joy out of this at all for them.

Desperate teams tend to make for very entertaining football and there’s no question both these teams are desperate.

It makes all that talk earlier in the week about Brett Favre possibly taking the weekend off, citing some tendinitis in his elbow, as laughable.

There is just no way a competitor like Favre would voluntarily ask out of a game of this magnitude.

And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that Favre’s entire football identity is wrapped up in his personal iron-man streak. The guy has played in 289 consecutive games without missing a start. Does anyone really think he would pick this game, even with all the Jenn Sterger nonsense going on the background, to end it? It just doesn’t make any sense.

Favre hasn’t gained any admirers with his now annual will-he-or-won’t-he-retire facade. Football fans would just as soon he play it straight and tell whatever team is employing him that he’ll show up about a month after everyone else has already been in training camp and if they don’t like it, he will retire.

The Sterger childishness has hurt his public image, not to mention what it must be doing to his home life, but that, too, has no bearing here.

This is all about Favre’s football legacy and being the tough-old-son-of-a-gun who played until he didn’t want to anymore.

And no one can know this but Favre for sure, but here’s betting he still wants to make amends for that game-turning interception in the dying seconds of the Vikings NFC final loss to New Orleans last winter.

There are some in Minnesota who believes he owes it to the franchise.

Repairing that image is something he can accomplish this weekend with a big game against the Cowboys that gets the Vikings back on track.

He’s got Randy Moss to throw to now and will need every game moment possible to work on the chemistry between the two.

Best of all, a desperate Favre is apt to try just about anything to win this football game and that is a recipe for must-see football.

The Cowboys have to be equally desperate, although their actions speak otherwise.

While the Vikings have gone out and obtained arguably one of the few players in the league (Moss) who can walk into a locker room and single-handedly change its fortunes, the Cowboys seem more intent on denying the magnitude of the hole they have dug themselves.

This was an exchange between Wade Phillips and ESPN’s Greg Garber Wednesday in Dallas after Garber asked him about the team’s mood.

Phillips: “Unfortunately, we can’t change our record, where we are. But we can change from now on, so it’s still how you finish, not how you start.”

Garber then referenced an earlier conversation with TE Jason Witten who admitted there was some panic in terms of the approach to the weekend and how nothing could be left untapped.

Phillips: “No, we’re not panicking.”

Garber then writes that Phillips nodded and waved, seemingly looking for a response to his response.

Garber: “That was my question.”

Phillips: “OK. That’s the answer.”

So maybe they’re not panicking in Dallas, but it is getting awfully weird down there.

This just in:

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell revealed during an interview at halftime of the Notre Dame/Western Michigan game that Favre will be asked to tell the league his side of the Sterger story before the Vikings play their sixth game. The league investigation continues and a Favre visit to the league offices will happen some time this week. Goodell will eventually have to decide whether what Favre did constitutes a violation of the league’s Personal Conduct Policy ... That battle of the running games brewing for Monday night’s tilt between Chris Johnson’s Tennessee Titans and the Maurice Jones-Drew-led Jacksonville Jaguars took a bit of a hit Saturday when Tennessee centre Eugene Amano hobbled off the field with an apparent ankle injury. He was added to the injury report and is listed as questionable. Amano did tell reporters after the practice that he expected to play ... Baltimore Ravens castoff Shayne Graham has been signed by the New York Giants as insurance. Kicker Lawrence Tynes injured his ankle in practice Friday and rather than get caught Sunday with a gimpy kicker, the Giants went out and signed Graham. Tynes may still be able to handle the kicking duties on Sunday, but if he can’t, the Giants have a backup.


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