NFC Championship Preview: Showdown In The Big Easy

Jeffrey BoswellAnalyst IJanuary 22, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS - JANUARY 17:  Quarterback Brett Favre 4# of the Minnesota Vikings throws a touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on January 17, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.

Minnesota at New Orleans (-4.5)

The top-seeded Saints host the second-seeded Vikings in the thrilling conclusion of the NFC's "all-indoors" playoffs, with the climate-controlled Superdome the setting for the conference's final showdown. It will be Brett Favre's fifth appearance in the NFC title game, and his first in an indoor setting.

"It would suit me just fine in this game were at Lambeau Field," says Favre. "Heck, I'm undefeated there this year. I'm like many purists of the game who long for a game in below freezing temperatures on natural grass. I think the Fabulous Thunderbirds said it most eloquently in their 1986 hit 'Turf Enuff .'"

"But wins like this are the reason I wanted to play for the Vikings. I knew they had everything a quarterback would want: a powerful running game, a strong defense, a malleable head coach, and a wide-receiving unit on the cusp of greatness. They sounded an awful lot like last year's Jets. I guess I did both teams a favor."

"Now, I didn't join the Vikings so I could run up the score on helpless defenses. Maybe we didn't need another touchdown with a 27-3 lead, but you can never underestimate the importance of taking a four possession lead, even with only two minutes remaining. I, of all people, know how quickly things can change. Give me two minutes, and I can change my retirement plans three times!"

"Yeah, I know it was a fourth-down play on which I passed to Visanthe Shiancoe for a touchdown. Was it a classless act? I plead the 'fourth.' Ask anybody, excluding anyone in the Packers or Jets front offices, and they'll tell you I'm a class act. But what do you expect. Prince was at the Metrodome. There was bound to be some 'Controversy .'"

The Saints, like the Vikings, are riding high after a blowout divisional victory, a 45-14 demolition of the Cardinals. After Arizona scored on the game's first play from scrimmage, the Saints took over and dominated every phase of the game. Reggie Bush accounted for two scores, one on a 46-yard rush, and the other on an 83-yard punt return.

"Call it 'All Saints' Day ,'" says Bush. "The Cardinals were no match for us on Saturday. Not on a day when we were rested, fired up, and carrying a baseball bat. Somewhere, Buford Pusser was smiling, as were Joe Don Baker and the Beastie Boys, because we 'did it like this, we did it like that, we did it with a baseball bat.' And, judging by Arizona's effort, we could have done it with a Wiffle ball bat. Suffice it to say, we brought the 'wood,' and the Cardinals brought the 'woodshed .'"

"If you saw the television broadcast of our game, you noticed, every time I made a play, FOX felt obligated to show my girlfriend, Kim Kardashian. Usually, it takes a sex tape for that many people to see her."

"Hey, speaking of tape study," says Drew Brees, "I've watched hours of film on the Vikings, and found just as many holes. Sure, their defensive front is full of stars, most of whom are full of 'Star Caps.' Jared Allen is a terror—I fear any man who sports a natural coonskin cap on his head—and the Williams boys are beastly—Kevin is a handful, and Pat is a sports bra-full—and Ray Edwards is an emerging force. After that, though, the Minnesota defense is much like a game at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium—the second and third levels are nearly empty. If I have time to throw, we'll win this game."

Sunday's game may be one of the most entertaining and intriguing NFC title games of all-time. How could it not be? It's Brees versus Favre, Bush versus Peterson, and it all takes place in the Superdome. And, hopefully, there will be the added spectacle of FOX 's Tony Siragusa patrolling the sidelines like a human Zamboni, glad-handing anything within arm's reach.

They call Adrian Peterson "All Day." In New Orleans, that's also what they call the Arizona defensive front, because they gave Brees "all day" to throw. Their defensive line is one heck of an offensive line. The Vikings front won't afford Brees that luxury. At the very least, the guys up front will force Brees to throw faster than he was accustomed to against the Cardinals.

On offense, the Vikings need a solid game from Peterson. Peterson is a threat to go all the way, and if he finds success early, the Saints safeties will be forced to creep in. Those two or three steps are all Favre needs to attack deep. Give Favre an inch, and he'll take a mile. Just ask Brad Childress.

Peterson rushes for 123 yards and a touchdown, and Favre out-duels Brees.

Minnesota wins, 31-27.