Tonight’s NFC Championship game is set to be a cracker with two teams who know where the end zone is and both teams feeling they have something to prove.
The New Orleans Saints have been steadily building a Super Bowl squad over the last few years and despite finishing bottom of the NFC South last year they did manage to finish 8-8 and it was a very competitive division also providing one of the Wild Cards. So it was not a major surprise to see them do so well this year and the way they brushed aside a good Arizona Cardinals team in the Divisional game shows they might finally be the complete item.
In Drew Brees they have a quality Quarterback and there are plenty of weapons on offense with Marques Colston & Robert Meachem both averaging 15 yards + per catch and Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell & Reggie Bush all capable of getting those tough yards. No one player has really shone this season with the touch downs being pretty well spread throughout the offense which makes it a little tougher to devise a strategy to stop them.
Defensively I am a little more concerned as only Darren Sharper has stood out for me at safety, where he has made a lot of key interceptions. Will Smith at Defensive end will be a key player tonight and if he doesn’t get to Brett Farve it could be a long night for the Saints defence who have been giving up 358 yards per game on average.
As For the Minnesota They have a team stuffed full of Pro Bowlers making them arguably the biggest under achievers in the NFC in recent years. However Brad Childers finally got what he needed, some quality at QB and in Brett Farve the experience and leadership he has brought has made some great players even better.
If Jared Allen can get to Drew Brees and the Williams’ can clog up the middle then there is a good chance the Saints will start to get frustrated and begin taking chances which will play right into the hands of the Vikings secondary. Offensively Brett Farve has brought a bit of discipline to the team and he himself has stopped his gunslinger approach of old and is now more methodical in his play. If as I expect Steve Hutchinson does his job and gets Brett time to get the passes off then I can see Sidney Rice, Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin getting plenty of yards. Add to this the threat of big Tight End Visanthe Shiancoe and the Saints defence could have their hands full.
So who will win? Overall I am just giving the edge to the Vikings who may just about have that little bit extra experience needed to win and I will predict a winning margin of 3-7 points.
If Minnesota do win it will mean that the top seeds won’t meet in the Super Bowl again this year and you have to go back to 1993 for the last time the NFC and AFC no 1 seeds made it to the Super Bowl.
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