Ok, we have the two best teams from the NFC in the Championship game. The Vikings come in with a little luster taken off their star with some so-so performances as of late and the Saints come in as probably the hottest team in the NFL. The Vikings got here by dismantling the Dallas Cowboys and (maybe) running up the score at the end of the game. The Saints got her by out shooting the Cardinals with one of Reggie Bush's best performances of his career. Let's take a look at how this NFC Championship game will turn out.
Saints - They got one, and boy do they have one. In most cases the Saints start the game with a TD already on the board as fast as they seem to score points. Drew Brees is having a marvelous year and he's hooking up with everyone on the team by spreading the ball around. The funny part is that the Saints are also at the top of league when it comes to running the ball. With their balance and unexpected play calling from Sean Payton, you never know what to expect.
Vikings - I have been on record all year about this Vikings team needing to run the ball more. for goodness sakes, they have Adrian Peterson. They also have a pretty old QB in Favre who is having arguably his best year ever. With the addition of Percy Harvin and the emergence of Sidney Rice and Shiancoe, the Vikings also have a very dynamic offense. They can keep pace with the Saints if they run the ball a little more and keep Brees in a baseball cap. My worry is that Harvin is having migraines again and may not be able to play. That's a big part of the Vikings passing game on the sidelines if that happens.
Saints - Opportunistic is the word that many use to describe the Saints defense. I will say that they are in that bend but do not break category with the Colts defense. If the Saints can get you in the down and distance that they want (2nd and 3rd and long), they have great safeties (Sharper and Harper) that can read QBs and make plays and decent corners who can run with the Vikings receivers. They have decent run stoppers up front, so they should be able to slow down Peterson, at least a little.
Vikings - They have been the best defense at sacking the QB all year long. They really showed us how formidable they could be against the Cowboys. The issue with that is that the Vikings defense hadn't had a game like the Dallas game since maybe week 14 or 15. You can't just turn it on and off. You gotta have some consistency. Ray Edwards tweaked a knee in that Cowboys game and he was giving the Cowboys as hard of a time as Jared Allen was (some would say Edwards had the better game). The Vikings corners have been beaten up all year long, so it will be of utmost importance for the Vikings to get to Brees.
Saints - Payton is one of the best game callers in the NFL and right now he can't seem to pick a bad play. He's going to have to balance the run with the pass and keep that Vikings defense honest. He can't afford to have his team in 3rd and long or Brees may not make it through the game. I'm assuming that he'll have a lot of delayed runs and screens in place for Bush and Thomas.
Vikings - It's funny that Brad Childress gets no respect. I mean, many of us could coach this Vikings team, right? Childress has got to remember that Adrian Peterson is young, so another 26 carries won't hurt him. Look for Childress to concentrate on the run and then let Favre loose later in the game. Childress also has the pressure on him that it's Super Bowl or bust. Can Leslie Frazier, the defensive coordinator dial up something to stop this Saints offense?
And the winner will be:
My heart says Vikings, my head says Saints. So I gotta go with the Vikings. This is it for them. This validates chasing and bringing back Brett Favre if they win this game and get to the Super Bowl. Yes, they want to win that one too, but this Saints team provides a challenge that the Vikings have to step up and answer. Look for AP to have a monster day (hopefully, finally) and for the Vikings to finally get back to the Super Bowl. Final score, Vikings 34, Saints 28.
I know that there are going to be a lot of people that are siding for the Saints and I won't be surprised, but I gotta go with the old vet on this one. What's your take? Who you got?