Black and Blue all over: Special edition

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Is this the biggest moment at the Metrodome since the 1998 NFC Championship Game? That seems to be the suggestion from the Star Tribune, which chose Sunday to commemorate the 1998 Vikings team that went 15-1 but were stopped by -- yes -- Atlanta in its march to the Super Bowl.

Ten years later, those same Falcons have arrived in Minnesota in hopes of delaying the Vikings' march to the NFC North title. The Vikings have won only one division title since the 1998, but they can clinch it Sunday with a victory over the Falcons. (Or a Chicago loss Monday night to Green Bay).

To give this game its due, let's take an expanded look from a local perspective. Check one post above for the Bears' playoff scenarios, as well as links to coverage in Green Bay and Detroit.

  • Mark Craig of the Star Tribune spoke with former Vikings coach Mike Tice, who said: "As an alumni and now a fan of the team, I'm excited. We're all excited to be this close to winning the division."

  • Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune catches up with three Minnesota women whose forlorn expressions in a 1998 photograph captured a decade of disappointment for Vikings fans.

  • Former owner Red McCombs tells Craig that he still gets questioned about why he traded the star of the 1998 team, receiver Randy Moss. Even from Tiger Woods.

  • The Vikings have returned their faith to quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, writes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune. Does that mean he will be their starter in 2009?

  • The Vikings should unleash Jackson against the Falcons, urges Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

  • Vikings defensive line coach Karl Dunbar will have his strong reputation tested by the loss of nose tackle Pat Williams, writes Rick Alonzo of the Pioneer Press.