SI.com's Don Banks had a veteran NFC insider assess the conference title game.

SCOUT'S TAKES: AFC Championship Game

• Saints -- Drew Brees is playing better than any other quarterback in the playoffs. He's been the most consistent and the most accurate, and he knows how to take care of the football and make plays when his team needs them. That has got to make Sean Payton excited about his chances of winning this game ...

I like all the running backs in this game, all four of them. But Deuce McAllister is the most underrated running back in the league. He can carry you. I do expect the Saints to have success running the ball against Chicago, because I don't think the Bears have really been stuffing the run up front for a while now. They have great linebackers, but they miss Tommie Harris and Mike Brown ...

Give Payton and Saints GM Mickey Loomis credit. They had enough confidence in receiver Devery Henderson to trade off Donte' Stallworth just before the season began. They must have had a feeling that Henderson was ready to step up. He's been a big part of things lately for the Saints...

New Orleans' front four is setting the tone for its defense. Will Smith, Brian Young, and Charles Grant are all high motor guys, and Hollis Thomas was one of the better free-agent acquisitions this season ...

The Saints linebackers are all instinctive guys, but they're not great in coverage. So who do you help? Do you protect them with help from a safety underneath, or have the safety help the cornerbacks over the top? That's Rex Grossman's decision, how to take advantage of that weakness. I look for the Bears to try and take advantage of that secondary. Fred Thomas is still a good player, but he's just not as fast as he once was.

• Bears -- Rex Grossman just struggles to provide any kind of consistency. That's what makes it tough to hang your hat on him at quarterback. Consistency comes when you can step up in that pocket and take a hit, but deliver the ball. He doesn't do that with any consistency at this point. He's had his fair share of injuries, so maybe in the back of his mind he's trying to make sure he stays healthy. But you can see him throwing off his back foot at times when there's pressure ...

If the Bears defense was 100 percent healthy, with Harris and Brown not out, you could say the Bears could win it with Grossman and go to the Super Bowl. But they're not playing as well as they were early in the season because their reserves don't have the same level of talent. So now you're hoping that Grossman just doesn't lose it for you ...

Look for the Bears to try to run the football and establish the tone with that. Their best formula for winning would be running Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson, getting some stout defense and great special teams play. With the homefield edge, that might be enough for them to get the win. But by running the ball, the Bears also would be limiting the time that New Orleans has the ball. So whether you like Grossman or not, you've got to run the ball in this game...

I don't see how anyone can feel all that confident in Chicago. Seattle had the ball with two minutes to go and had a bad two-minute drive, otherwise they're playing this week and the Bears aren't. Chicago won, but it won by the skin of its teeth. They certainly didn't dominate the Seahawks.

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