The legendary voice of NFL Films' John Facenda once uttered this about the 11th month of the year in NFL terms:
*Hopes that were high in the heat of September ... can wilt and die in the chill of November.
November can be cold and gray - November can be surly ... with bitter rain upon the world and winter coming early.*
Well, the colder, the better for the Green Bay Packers (6-1) as quarterback Brett Favre - the NFL's top-rated passer (102.0) - is 31-0 at home, including six playoff games, when the temperature at kickoff is 34 degrees or below.
The forecast for Monday night in Lambeau Field: low of 29 degrees under partly-cloudy skies with one of the NFL's best teams blowing in from the south in the form of the Miami Dolphins (5-2). Miami is one win away from becoming the winningest team in the 33-year history of ABC's NFL Monday Night Football. The Dolphins are 36-29 (.554) all-time when playing before ABC's prime-time cameras while the Packers have won four of their past five MNF games.
Is Miami head coach Dave Wannstedt concerned about his AFC East-leading team playing in the cold?
"No, there is nothing we can do about it," says Wannstedt. "I talked a little about it this week. We have to deal with it. It will be different, but I think we have a strong-minded group. We can't use anything as an excuse."
As Favre (listed as probable for the game) prepares for his 165th consecutive start for the Packers - the longest active streak by any player at any position - the big news in Miami is the newest Dolphin, wide receiver Cris Carter. The 16-year NFL veteran is coming out of retirement to help the Dolphins in their quest to end an 18-year Super Bowl drought. Like his college jersey number at Ohio State (No. 2), Carter stands second all-time in NFL receptions (1,093) and receiving touchdowns (129). In addition, he needs 172 receiving yards to pass James Lofton for second in that category. Oakland's Jerry Rice stands atop all three lists.
"I love playing against the Packers," says Carter, who has 105 career receptions against Green Bay. "It has been my favorite place to play. They were our No. 1 rival in Minnesota (when he was with the Vikings). It is no different from the Dolphins playing the Jets or the Patriots. It is the same type of intensity in this rivalry."
Along with Favre, a key reason why the Packers are tied for the NFL's best record with San Diego and lead the NFC North is their NFL-best plus-12 turnover ratio. The team already has produced 23 takeaways (3.3 per game).
"We make a conscious effort to knock the ball out," says Green Bay safety Darren Sharper. "That's something we practice. We have stressed this a lot more since this (coaching) staff came in 2000."
For the Dolphins, defensive end and AFC October Defensive Player of the Month Jason Taylor (5.5 sacks) leads the club in getting to the quarterback. The Dolphins are second in the AFC in sack differential ( 10). In addition, Miami is the AFC's toughest team inside the 20, yielding only nine touchdowns in 24 opposing possessions (37.5 percent).
QUOTED: "I love Green Bay and Lambeau Field. If they ever made a shrine to pro football, it ought to be Lambeau Field. I just think of the tradition, history, Vince Lombardi, and all of that." -Monday Night Football color analyst John Madden
MONDAY NIGHT MINUTIA: Wannstedt was a 15th -round draft choice of the Packers in the 1974 NFL Draft as a tackle from Pittsburgh. Also on that 1973 Pittsburgh team were freshmen running back Tony Dorsett and quarterback Matt Cavanaugh, current Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator......Miami (13) and Green Bay (10) currently own the longest consecutive season streaks with an MNF appearance in the AFC and NFC, respectively......Under head coach Mike Sherman, the Packers have won their past 18 games when leading at halftime......With 100 rushing yards vs. the Packers, Miami running back Ricky Williams will tie the franchise record (5) for the most such games in a season (Delvin Williams, 1978)......Dolphins are 9-1 all-time vs. Packers...Packers are 11-2 all-time vs. Wannstedt.