Three things to know about next Sunday’s NFC Championship Game between the Vikings and Saints.
1. This one will be a dream matchup of quarterbacks. Brett Favre is an official legend and icon around the world. Even at 40, he’s been playing great football. Drew Brees is a legend and an icon in New Orleans. But this game may be his chance to take that legend beyond New Orleans. Brees has been very good for quite some time now. But to truly get the recognition he deserves, he needs to go out and be the best quarterback on the field.
2. The New Orleans coaching staff has to be a little nervous after watching Minnesota’s pass rush against Dallas. The Vikings have more than just Jared Allen. They have Ray Edwards and Kevin and Pat Williams in the middle. New Orleans’ offensive line has done a great job all season, and guard Jahri Evans and right tackle Jon Stinchcomb earned Pro Bowl berths. Center Jonathan Goodwin and guard Carl Nicks also have been very good. But the question mark is Jermon Bushrod at left tackle. He’s filled in for Pro Bowler Jammal Brown, who has missed the entire season with an injury. Bushrod has been adequate at times and has struggled at other times. You can be sure the Vikings are going to come after him very hard. The Saints need to give him lots of help from tight ends David Thomas and Jeremy Shockey and probably will use reserve tackle Zach Strief as a blocking tight end in some situations.
3. Darren Sharper’s been waiting for this game all season. The veteran safety left the Vikings for the Saints in the offseason. Concerns about his age were part of the reason the Vikings let Sharper go. Since joining the Saints, Sharper has shown no signs of slowing down. He’s had a huge year and wants to show his old team that he still can play.