Pretend that it isn't utterly impractical to have Brett Favre around in 2011 based on his age and after how things went in 2010, both on and off the field.
Pretend that it would have been harmonious to have a rookie first-round pick and Favre on the same roster.
Pretend that the circumstances of everything else about the 2011 Vikings are exactly the same, that every other player was playing at the exact same level as they have, but swap out Favre for Donovan McNabb through the first six games of the season. (Everyone here should know we hate this notion, but just pretend anyway).
Pretend that this 2011 version of Favre -- a man who just turned 42, by the way -- played nowhere near his 2009 self, but marginally better and with fewer mistakes than his 2010 self. In other words, don't pretend you have MVP-worthy Favre. Pretend you have decent Favre.
Pretend that three days before Christian Ponder's first career start isn't a bizarre time to ask all of these questions. You don't come here for normal, do you?
Think back to those six games already played and pretend. Pretend Favre is the quarterback. How different is the season, purely from an on-field standpoint? What is the Vikings' record right now? Is Favre still upright behind this offensive line?
Our best guess: The Vikings would be 3-3. They would have lost at San Diego and Chicago. They would have won at Kansas City and at home vs. Arizona. And they would have split with Detroit and Tampa Bay. Yeah, Favre would still be playing. He would have taken his share of sacks, but his quick release and knowledge of the offense would have made up for some of those deficiencies. On third down plays, we'd expect first downs instead of incompletions. We'd be talking about a turning point game in the season with the .500 Vikings against the undefeated Packers. Instead, we're about to embark on a new era, but 2011 is almost certainly lost from the standpoint of being playoff-worthy.
Are the Vikings better off? Well, that's the most interesting question of all in our mind. We've been wrestling with it for days and we're not quite sure. McNabb's struggles ushered in Ponder earlier than we might have expected or the Vikings might have wanted. Then again, that might not be a bad thing. Is it better to hang on or move on?
Your thoughts, please, in the comments.