Kevin O'Connell and Matt LaFleur are learning what 99% of their predecessors found out the hard way. If you want to be known as an offensive wizard, you'd better have the right guy holding the wand.

Sunday night at U.S. Bank Stadium, two teams that have taken divergent approaches at quarterback will play for second place in the NFC North and an increased chance of making the playoffs. But this isn't the same old rivalry.

This will be the first time since LaFleur arrived in Green Bay that neither team will have its longtime franchise quarterback starting. Aaron Rodgers left the Packers for the Jets last offseason. Kirk Cousins is missing his first Vikings games because of injury.

With Rodgers in the organization, LaFleur won more games in his first four seasons as an NFL head coach than anyone other than George Seifert, who inherited Bill Walsh's 49ers dynasty, which was built around Joe Montana's right arm and continued because of Steve Young's left arm.

In his first season without Rodgers, LaFleur is 7-8 and likely to miss the playoffs.

O'Connell won 13 games as a young, rookie head coach and is also 7-8, largely because he's had four starting quarterbacks this season.

Both likely would have reached double-digit victories if Rodgers and Cousins had quarterbacked these teams and remained healthy. Instead, LaFleur has to hope that Jordan Love becomes a winning franchise quarterback, and O'Connell will have to hold long meetings about who his quarterback will be in 2024 before deciding that it will be Cousins.

It's hard to get credit for designing a beautiful play if the quarterback throws to the wrong receiver, or the wrong team.

Not long ago, one of the most popular sports debates asked whether Bill Belichick or Tom Brady should get the most credit for the Patriots' championships. Now we know.

Belichick won 77% of his games when Brady was his starting quarterback. He has won 45% of his games when Brady wasn't.

If there is a worthwhile debate involving these two teams and their current predicaments, it revolves around this question:

Would you rather have the Vikings' quarterback room, or the Packers'?

The Packers can argue that having a former first-round draft pick who studied under Rodgers sets them up for success, and that this season has aided Love's development.

The problem with that theory is that Love had two years to prepare himself to become Rodgers' replacement, and he ranks 23rd in the league in completion percentage, behind Mitch Trubisky and Joshua Dobbs.

The Vikings can argue that they have a starter in Cousins whose value has been proven and reproven the past two seasons, and they have an intriguing rookie in Jaren Hall.

The problem with that argument is that the Vikings do not have Cousins signed past this season, and they have discovered that two of the quarterbacks they have started in his stead — Nick Mullens and Dobbs — are NFL backups at best.

Look through the NFL Hall of Fame, and you won't find many coaches who won without great quarterbacks.

Joe Gibbs is the foremost exception. He won Super Bowls with Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien.

Bill Parcells won one Super Bowl with Phil Simms and another with Jeff Hostetler, a backup who replaced Simms because of injury.

Current Seahawks coach Pete Carroll won one Super Bowl and almost another with Russell Wilson, who looked like a Hall of Famer for much of his stay in Seattle but was just benched in Denver after a second straight disappointing season as a highly paid acquisition.

Sunday night, Love will face Hall at U.S. Bank Stadium. If the Vikings don't make the playoffs, they will begin negotiating with Cousins and deciding whether to spend a high draft pick on a quarterback.

They should do both. The Vikings should try to win next season with Cousins, and they should draft their Jordan Love — if Hall doesn't prove quickly that he is their quarterback of the future.