The Vikings were 10-6 in 2008 and won a division title for the first time in eight years. They scored 379 points and allowed 333. That ranked No. 6 in the NFC in points scored and No. 7 in fewest points allowed.
This production came with Tarvaris Jackson starting the first two games at quarterback, being replaced by Gus Frerotte, and taking over again for an injured Frerotte in Game 13 and playing out the schedule.
Slot receiver Bobby Wade led the team with 53 catches. The Vikings entered with sizable hopes for Sidney Rice, a second-year receiver, but he was limited by injury, played in 10 games and totaled 15 catches.
The '08 Vikings started 0-2 and 1-3, but closed strong -- seven victories in nine games -- to pass Chicago and win the NFC North. Jackson also finished strong, improving his season passer rating to 95.4.
The 2010 Vikings are 6-9 and, with a loss in Detroit on Sunday, would lose a tiebreaker to the Lions and finish last in the division. They have scored 268 points and allowed 328. That ranks No. 13 in the NFC in points scored and again No. 7 in fewest points allowed.
Slot receiver Percy Harvin leads the team with 63 catches. Star receiver Rice was waylaid by hip surgery, missed the season's first nine games and has totaled 17 catches.
These are the bottom-line facts on where the Vikings were at the end of the 2008 season and where they are as the 2010 schedule concludes.
The Vikings were a team on the rise when Brett Favre made his first tardy arrival in mid-August 2009, and they will be a team in chaos and decline when he makes his tardy departure from Winter Park, presumably Monday.
There is a possibility that Leslie Frazier will have interim removed from his title in early January and become the head coach for the future. On the day that happens, the No. 1 item on Frazier's agenda should be this:
Offer heartfelt good riddance to Favre. Shut the door to the mausoleum and make the seal as tight as if it was the tomb of a pharaoh, which is how Favre was allowed to function for two seasons in Minnesota.
We know Favre has assured everyone this was his final season -- and logic says this time he has to mean it. And yet Frazier and the Vikings must remember that manipulation has been a stronger force with this man than logic for several years, and they must cut off the head of the Mississippi cottonmouth before one day next March they read this on the ESPN crawl:
"ESPN's Ed Werder reports Brett Favre considering return this season."
The truth is that for all Favre did to boost the Vikings in 2009, he did more to destroy them this season.
It was easy for teammates to buy into Favre's dramatics a year ago, since he was not under contract and they only knew of rumors that he might play for the Vikings.
This time, he had a contract, and the waffling was intended both to fill Favre's bottomless desire for attention and to miss Mankato. Coach Brad Childress had to feel like a chump when he signed on to sending Ryan Longwell, Steve Hutchinson and Jared Allen to Mississippi to retrieve the Grey Ego.
If you want to track Childress' downfall, it started right then, when he left his assistants to lie about the practice absences of the three man-trackers.
And Childress' demise became inevitable Oct. 24 in Green Bay. This was the Vikings' chance to get to .500 (3-3) and think about making a run. And then Favre singlehandedly provided a 28-24 Packers victory.
Postgame, Childress had the temerity to cite turnovers (Favre's) as the cause of this defeat and for the 2-4 start. The shots at Favre were sideways, but this man takes criticism in no form.
The Favre bobos in the national media immediately blasted Childress' candor, rather than the old QB's ineptitude, and soon they were relishing in stories of locker room dissension.
A couple of weeks earlier, the Vikings had made the desperate attempt to rescue the offense by using a third-round draft choice on a used-up Randy Moss. He couldn't produce and wouldn't conform (of course), and when Childress fired Moss, he was burnt toast.
Everything done was to take another shot with Favre, and his response has been a 69.9 passer rating, five victories in 14 starts and a team that didn't really offer its best until rookie Joe Webb made the start in Philadelphia.
Don't let the Winter Park door hit you in the rear end, Mr. Favre, and if it does, we don't need photos.
Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500ESPN. • firstname.lastname@example.org