Peterson could be on par with Sweetness

Adam Schefter answers readers' questions nearly every day in his blog. On Thursday, Adam turns his attention to Sunday's rivalry game between the Minnesota Vikings (9-1) and the Chicago Bears (4-6). Have a query of your own? Submit it here.

Q: I got in an argument the other day with my friend -- a diehard Vikings fan -- who says that Adrian Peterson is already a better running back than Walter Payton. Is that not an absolute blasphemy?

-- Chuck (Chicago)

A: It's a little early to say that, Chuck, but check back in 10 years. Adrian Peterson -- if he takes care of himself, if he stays healthy, if he continues to evolve as an all-around player -- has a chance to be in that conversation and a chance to be mentioned right there with Sweetness. It's just premature to do it now. Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the game today and might be the best player in the league. But he's not Payton -- not yet.

Q: Why is Chicago such a quarterback wasteland? I thought things would be different with Cutler, but this city's eaten him alive, too. QBs leave here as broken men and it's got to be more than just the wind.

-- Will (Chicago)

A: Jay certainly looked broken Sunday night, Will, no question about that. It has to be very discouraging. Right now, it looks like the offensive line isn't good enough, the play calling isn't imaginative enough and the receivers aren't tall enough (though who am I to be talking as a short guy). Cutler should have had an idea this was coming; he had a better offensive setup in Denver. But this is what he wanted, and now it is growing increasingly challenging. Not going to be easy to fix, not without first- or second-round picks. But I do think there will be major changes to the Bears' offensive coaching staff in the hopes of getting this unit back to what you and Bears fans want, Will.

Q: In my mind, the Vikings were just one bobbled Chester Taylor reception from being undefeated this year. Yet, I don't hear them being talked about as being on the same level as those beloved Saints, who almost lost to the Rams. The Rams! At least on paper, aren't the Vikings just as good, if not better and more versatile than the Saints?

-- Kevin (Rochester, Minn.)

A: Kevin, it doesn't matter what anyone is saying now; what matters is what will happen in January. The Vikings and Saints seem to be on a crash course, destined to play each other. The Saints have been very impressive, a great team this season. But to me, the Vikings have been the more balanced team and the better team. But the truth is, it doesn't matter what I think or anyone else thinks. These two teams are likely to decide it in January, in what would be a great playoff game. But people have been waiting for Brett Favre to get hurt -- and he hasn't. And as long as he's playing, I think the Vikings are the team to beat.

Q: Is it just me, or were the Bears better off just leaving Devin Hester as the best special teams player in the league? He's an ok receiver, but I think he'd be much more effective just thinking about kickoffs and punt returns and not have the workload of a No. 1 wideout on his shoulders as well.

-- Andy (Valley Stream, N.Y.)

A: Agreed, Andy. The problem is, Hester doesn't think of himself as a return man anymore, as dominant as he was. The other problem is that Hester hasn't played like a No. 1 receiver. He is more of a complementary receiver to NFL scouts. Maybe he can develop into a No. 1 wideout, but he hasn't so far. He still is a playmaker, explosive, capable of going the distance at any time. But to your point, he was the biggest threat as a return man. The numbers bear it out.

Q: How much longer do you think Brett Favre will play in the NFL? Without him, the Vikings drop a long way away from contention. Could Minnesota's window of opportunity for a championship be as small as this one season?

-- Rich (Los Angeles)

A: Rich, Minnesota would drop, but it would be right back to where it was last season, when it was a division winner and lost in the opening round of the playoffs to Philadelphia. What Favre does is make a good team a great team. Without Favre, Minnesota still would be good enough to win its division; it just wouldn't be good enough to advance in the postseason, I don't think. With Favre, a healthy Favre, the Vikings become a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Now, as for how long he plays -- we're not even going there yet. We get enough of that guessing game from February through August that, when we don't have to play it now, I'd just as soon pass.