x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Rodgers and Favre set for a battle royal

As a new season gets set to kick off, the Vikings and Packers are expected to slug it out for top spot in the NFC North.

They name streets after their greatest players in Green Bay, and Aaron Rodgers, the Packers quarterback, could soon be on the map if he can put them into the Super Bowl. If you visit Green Bay, sooner or later, you will find yourself on Lombardi Avenue, Holmgren Way or even Brett Favre Pass.

Last year you might have ended up on Aaron Rodgers Avenue; a street was temporarily renamed for the Packers' leader when Favre came back to town with the Minnesota Vikings. As a new season gets set to kick off, all the signs point towards an intriguing showdown between Favre, the three-time NFL most valuable player, and Rodgers, his one-time backup. The Vikings and Packers are expected to slug it out for top spot in the NFC North.

The battle between the two quarterbacks will be the focal point of two of the NFL season's most eagerly anticipated games: the Vikings visit Lambeau Field on October 24 and the Packers travel to Minnesota on November 21. Meetings between the Vikings and Packers need no extra hype, but the Favre-Rodgers subplot has added more spice to one of the NFL's fiercest rivalries. There is already a debate over whether Rodgers might one day surpass Favre as the greatest Packers quarterback.

This season will probably represent the last chance to compare them on the field at the same time. Rodgers spent three seasons as Favre's patient understudy and clearly used the time wisely - he has emerged as an elite player. Rogers, 26, is the only player to throw for more than 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons. He passed for 4,434 yards and 30 touchdowns last season and has not missed a start since taking over from Favre.

"My number one goal every season is to be available to be on the field," Rodgers said. "As long as I can still go out there and be our best option at quarterback I need to be on the field. "I feel like I got respect for that from my teammates. You need to be on the field, you need to be a leader, you need to play every snap. That's something I take pride in." Favre enters his 20th season holding almost every quarterback record and a streak of 285 consecutive starts that is one of sport's most remarkable achievements. Last season was one of the 40-year-old's best; he threw for 4,202 yards and 33 touchdowns, with only seven interceptions.

Favre again contemplated retirement after falling one win short of a trip to the Super Bowl last year, losing the New Orleans Saints in the NFC championship. "I was so close, so close to getting these guys to the Super Bowl," he said, explaining his decision not to retire. "I owe it to this organisation to give it one more try. "This is a very good football team. The chances [of going to the Super Bowl] here are much greater than other places."

While the Vikings are seen as championship contenders, it is the Packers generating the early season Super Bowl buzz. "I think last year we didn't have the same kind of confidence," Rodgers said. "This year it's a mature, realistic confidence." * Reuters