Our weekly “setting the table” blog entries are designed to construct a context around the Vikings upcoming game by pointing out relevant factors and circumstances in the week’s matchup.
But this week I’m fairly certain you don’t need me to set the table too much – it’s the NFC Championship Game and the conference’s top 2 seeds will battle at the Louisiana Superdome for a right to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLIV.
This is a great matchup on so many levels, and we’ll dig deeper into this matchup as the week wears on. Ultimately, though, football fans are in for a treat with this game because the Vikings and Saints were the NFC’s 2 best teams all season and they’ve arrived in the conference championship game after earning 1st round byes and then dominating legitimate challengers in the Divisional Round. Suffice it to say, these 2 teams left no doubt that they are the best the NFC has to offer.
New Orleans marched through the first 13 weeks of the season, going 13-0 before losing their final 3 contests. They finished the regular season as the league’s highest-scoring outfit (31.9 points per game) and ranked #1 in total offense (yards per game). The Vikings, meanwhile, began 6-0 and improved to 10-1 before losing 3 of 4 in December and then finishing with an impressive 12-4 mark. They also have a top 5 overall offense and they are the NFL’s 2nd-highest scoring offense at 29.4 points per game.
So offensively one might give a slight edge to New Orleans, but on the other side of the ball one might favor the Vikings. They dominated an explosive Cowboys offense last week in the Divisional Round, finished 6th in the league in total defense and ranked #2 against the run.
The Saints, meanwhile, don’t rank as impressively in overall defense but they have play-makers who thrive when put in favorable situations. The offense has made a habit of staking the team to large leads and the defense has more than pulled its weight by registering big-time plays. S Darren Sharper, a former Viking and teammate of QB Brett Favre’s in Green Bay, is the face of the Saints play-making style because of his 9 INTs, 3 of which he’s returned for TDs.
There are interesting matchups on special teams as well, with both teams featuring explosive returners and both teams also holding slight edges in other areas of special teams play.
Anyway, that’s enough setting the table for now. We have a lot more to get to, so stay tuned to vikings.com and the vikings.com Blog the rest of the week.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 29 Comments »