Let's be frank. Childress may have some awful personal grooming, and definitely needs someone to take him aside and tell him not to wear polo shirts that highlight his man-boobs. (McCarthy, whose own rack is likely far more prodigious, has the good sense to wear nylon jackets.) But for all the fun that's been made of Childress, the coaching between the two teams is basically a draw, even with Capers at the defensive helm. Childress may not take advantage of the most obvious gimmie in football (Peterson on short-distances behind Hutchinson and McKinnie) as often as he should, but McCarthy keeps letting Rodgers take 7-step drops with two neophyte tackles and has allowed his team to become utterly penalty-ridden. Who's dumber? I can't tell.
Given the draw in equally-dunderheaded coaches, the difference between the Vikings and the Packers is personnel. Namely, the Vikings are on a ridiculous hot streak in player acquisition, especially compared to the Packers.
Consider the Vikings' hit list. First, the draftees: Harvin (1st rd. 2009), Loadholt (2nd rd. 2009), J. Allen (acquired for 2008's 1 and 2), Peterson (1st rd. 2007), Rice (2nd rd. 2007), Greenway (1st rd. 2006). Peterson is a superstar, maybe the best player in the league, certainly the best back. Favre has turned Rice into an All-Pro wideout. Harvin may be the best returner in the game. Loadholt stoned Aaron Kampman twice now, as a rookie. Greenway is a well-above average starter. Jared Allen is simply a great pass rushing right end and is in the prime of his career. He's at a much higher level than Kampman. And even the year they traded for Allen, they found two other starters in late rounds that year. They haven't had a "bad draft" since 2005.
And in the years' prior to current GM Rick Spielman (Chris's brother) taking over, the Vikings made some excellent free agent signings-- notably Pat Williams and Antonio Winfield, and, of course, Steve Hutchinson, who even though he's fading this season, is still the best guard in the division, at the least.
Plus, they've held onto prior draft hits, like E.J. Henderson, Bryant McKinnie, and Kevin Williams, and managed to get some adequate starters out of random picks, like starting safety Tyrell Johnson, and starting center John Sullivan (who has replaced former Pro Bowl Center Matt Birk without a hitch). And, of course, getting Favre at no cost took their offense to an entirely higher level.
Now compare the Packers. No impact free agents since Woodson and Pickett several years ago. Chillar is pretty good, but not great. So the drafts have needed to produce excellent players. But, until Matthews this season, Thompson's five drafts have produced exactly two above-average players-- Rodgers and Jennings. Take a look at the other high picks: 2006-- Hawk, Colledge; 2007-- Justin Harrell, Brandon Jackson; 2008-- Jordy Nelson, Brian Brohm, and Pat Lee. Ooof. Not one even one "solid starter" in that bunch. The Vikings kicked the Packers' asses in those drafts.
This is why you saw what you did on the field last night. The Vikings are simply, top to bottom, a better team. Favre is the cherry on top of the sundae. Thompson's been excellent at improving the team's depth, no doubt, and a disproportionate number of discarded Thompson draft picks have found places in the league (like Hunter Hillenmeyer, Aaron Rouse, David Clowney, Tony Moll, and Dave Tollefson). But he just hasn't found many top of the line players. He needs to do better.