NFC Championship: Vikings-Saints
But there's more. Much, much more. Such as:
• Favre and Saints quarterback
• Having the two top-scoring offenses in the league this year on the same field, with New Orleans (510 points) versus Minnesota (470) being the first conference final to manage that since San Francisco beat Dallas in the 1994 NFC title game.
• It's also tied for the winningest matchup we've had in an NFC Championship since 1998, when Minnesota and Atlanta met with a combined regular-season record of 29-3. The top-seeded Saints and the No. 2-seeded Vikings went 25-7 this season, starting 13-0 and 10-1, respectively.
But if anybody might be able to coax the old risk-taking Favre back on stage, it might be the Saints' Sharper, his former Green Bay teammate from 1997 to 2004. Sharper spent years practicing against No. 4, and he knows his tendencies as well as any other defensive back in the NFL. And Sharper, 34, has enjoyed something of a career renaissance himself this season, in his first year as the Saints free safety. His nine interceptions tied for the NFL lead, and he returned three for touchdowns. New Orleans first-year defensive coordinator
And don't forget, Sharper has more motivation in this game than just wanting to play well against Favre and earn the second Super Bowl trip of his 13-year career. He has something to prove to Vikings head coach
But the Saints offensive line was one of the best in the NFL this season, and if it gives Brees time to operate against Minnesota, the Vikings defense could be in trouble. Yes, third-year offensive left tackle
While everyone's watching Favre, Brees and all those great receivers and running backs the Vikings and Saints can run out there, don't lose track of the elephants dance up front. Their tug of war might just decide who heads to Miami.
"I think the fact that he has a running game has been very important for him. He's not forcing the ball and taking a lot of chances, because he knows he has other players around him, both in the running game and on defense. I think that Brad Childress and
"The day we faced him, I was amazed by him at times. His ability to look off our safeties was unbelievable. Even more than his throws, it was his mechanics of delivering the football. The throws were great, but it was just as important how he sets up the throw. He'd look one way the entire time, and at the last second turn to the other side of the field and fire an absolute laser. A lot of guys can't do that, but he can, because he knows where he's going to go with the ball every second. That's what sets him apart. Not the throw as much as the process before the throw.''
Though there were pretenders to the throne along the way -- the Giants early in the season, the Cardinals, Eagles and Cowboys later on -- the Saints and Vikings have been the pace-setters from Week 1 in the NFC. And now they meet in the glamour matchup that promises an explosion of offense and a solid wall of noise emanating from the boisterous Superdome crowd.
The Saints' will to win for the city of New Orleans may sound trite to some, but I believe it's part of the mojo that has driven