NFL's studs to duds

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:09 AM ET

Never mind this being the National Football Conference prelude to the Super Bowl, this Sunday's Dallas-Vikings game has turned into the Stupor Bowl.

Neither team can afford to lose, but neither deserves to win.

Both are a deserving 1-3, plagued by turnovers, mental mistakes, strategic lapses and dumb penalties.

Both have among the elite ball carriers in the league but seem loath to concentrate on a running game. Both have name quarterbacks but Brett Favre and Tony Romo are coming off game-ending picks.

Romo was sacked six times in the NFC playoff last season by this Vikings defence. Speaking of sacks, the NFL is probing who Favre may have tried to get into one with. Plus he's got a twitchy elbow, a bum knee and an offensive line that can't keep him out of trouble.

The Cowboys are equally messed up, having had trouble giving up the deep ball. Their secondary struggles against bigger wide receivers. Now Terence Newman or Mike Jenkin face Randy Moss, perhaps the toughest cover in the league because of his 6-foot-4 frame, leaping ability and an extra gear that allows him to get separation on deep routes.

In seven career games Moss has never lost to the Cowboys. And, yes, it's personal.

This game has more subplots, sexploits and intrigue than an episode of Desperate Housewives. Moss still holds a grudge more than a decade after the Cowboys bypassed him in the draft.

"It's a little added motivation," Moss told reporters this week. "I don't really disrespect the Dallas Cowboys organization or say anything negative about Jerry Jones and what he's accomplished there. But ... I still take it to heart."

When the Vikings traded for him to replace the injured Sidney Rice, it might've been the best move they made all year. The receiver has 26 catches for 729 yards and 11 TDs against the Cowboys who, scared off by Moss' perceived character flaws, instead chose North Carolina defensive end Greg Ellis.

The question is, can the Vikings get him the ball?

While the suggestion would've been heresy even a few weeks ago, perhaps it's time Favre took a knee. Favre is starting to look his age, even if Jenn Sterger has the cell phone messages that show he's not acting it. Coach Brad Childress says the NFL investigation into whether Favre sent lewd messages to a sideline reporter hasn't been a distraction. But, what else do you call tearful locker room apologies? Besides, this is a sad-looking guy who can't throw, can't run and can't see that he's hurting his team.

At stake for Favre is an NFL-record 289 regular-season game streak. But this season was supposed to be about so much more for the Vikings. So, hello Tarvaris Jackson?

Why not? Jackson is younger, more mobile and might take the pressure off a beleaguered offensive line. He's Childress supposed quarterback of the future. He has size and a strong arm, with enough athleticism to move the chains with his legs.

It's reached a point where the Vikings have nothing left to lose. Right now Favre is statistically among the worst quarterbacks in the league; his QB rating a measly 67 -- only three QBs are worse, and two of them are rookies. He has thrown as many interceptions in four games this year (seven) as he did all of last season.

So while Minnesota may not know what Jackson can do, they do know what Favre can't do. The Cowboys? They know they just have to stop being dunderheads. They were flagged 12 times in the loss to Tennessee, including a truly bonehead penalty after tight end Jason Witten scored a touchdown that could've kept the Cowboys in the game. Witten came out of the end zone and handed the ball to Marc Colombo so he could spike it. The penalty for excessive celebration set up Marc Mariani for the decisive kickoff return.

QUICK HITS

Holdout Vincent Jackson, after conferring with the players association, is expected to return to the Chargers by Oct. 31. It would be a huge late-season plus for San Diego, which can move Legedu Naanee back into his natural third receiver role ... Aaron Rodgers (concussion) practiced Thursday and is probable for Green Bay's game against Miami ... Vernon Biever, the photographer who documented the Green Bay Packers for decades, and took the iconic shots of Paul Hornung flying into the end zone and Vince Lombardi being carried off the field, has died. He was 87 ... Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is expected to miss his fifth game with a right shoulder injury. He was seen in the locker room Tuesday tying his shoes with only his left hand.

bill.lankhof@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos