It’s down to Final Four, Mike Smith will break down winners

Peyton Manning faces Jets' top-ranked defense.

Peyton Manning faces the Jets' top-ranked defense.

Brett Favre will battle the noise in New Orleans.

Brett Favre will battle the noise in New Orleans

The two best Sundays of the NFL season are the first one and this one.

The first Sunday is filled with hope. Today theoretically determines the two best teams in football, with the NFC and AFC championships. Generally the games live up to the hype — unlike the Super Bowl, which too often is less entertaining than the commercials.

Both games have great story lines. In the AFC, the New York Jets haven’t lost a game since losing to the Falcons last month. (Afterward, the distraught Jets coach, Rex Ryan, said: “This obviously is t0ugh because now we’re obviously out of the playoffs, and it’s unfortunate.”) But even with the league’s No. 1 defense, it’s difficult seeing the Jets upsetting Indianapolis. Even if they slow down Peyton Manning, it’s hard to see the Colts scoring less than 20 points, or New York scoring even that many.

The NFC game is harder to call. The Minnesota Vikings are a better overall team than the New Orleans Saints, if only because of their defense (No. 6 vs. No. 25). But having covered games in almost every stadium and arena in the country, I can tell you that none is louder than the New Orleans Superdome, particularly after the fans have had several hours to “prep” on Bourbon St. That’s something Brett Favre will have to deal with. (The Metrodome in Minneapolis is close to the Superdome in noise level, but fans obviously are quiet when the Vikings have the ball.)

This might be a prediction stemming more from desire than my head. But I’ll go with the Saints. (Favre winning would justify — in his mind — all of his prima donna actions leading up to this season. My stomach couldn’t take that.)

Drew Brees and the offense seem to show us something new every week. The team has shown a t0ughness and resolve this season that often has been missing in the past. Suffice to say, the win would be a huge boost for a city that needs it, and for a franchise that never has been to the Super Bowl.

When the games are over, I’ll have Falcons coach Mike Smith break it all down. I plan to speak to Smith after each game for a column that will be posted tonight. If you have any particular questions you want me to ask Smith, let me know.

Until then, I’ll be here watching the games and blogging live (from my couch).  Coffee time. Back in a few minutes.

510 comments Add your comment

jeffrey d

January 24th, 2010
1:06 pm

I’m not gonna say it

nball

January 24th, 2010
1:08 pm

jeffrey d

January 24th, 2010
1:08 pm

Jeff Schultz

January 24th, 2010
1:09 pm

N-ball– I hope you bet to “place”

Jeff Schultz

January 24th, 2010
1:10 pm

Jeffrey D — you showed tremendous restraint.

AJ

January 24th, 2010
1:10 pm

Indy & Saints in Stuper Bowl!

jeffrey d

January 24th, 2010
1:10 pm

Anyway, thanks Jeff. A Manning/Favre Super Bowl would be most intriguing, but I think I’d have to block ESPN from my TV for the week if Favre is in the Super Bowl.

bad brad

January 24th, 2010
1:12 pm

Ask him if he thinks you have a lot in common with Terrence Moore?

jeffrey d

January 24th, 2010
1:13 pm

I remember one August morning I had the day off. I got my breakfast and turned on SportsCenter ready for a lazy morning. ESPN literally had an hour and a half of nonstop Favre coverage, complete with hundreds of images of him getting off the same plane.

I cannot imagine what’s going through the heads of ESPN’s producers. As if we’re all waiting crowded around the TV, just waiting for the next Favre update.

AJ

January 24th, 2010
1:17 pm

Dodging tornado’s and watching one of the best days in the NFL is today’s agenda…Oh yea Eating fried peanut butter banana sandwichs, as well.

Jeff Schultz

January 24th, 2010
1:19 pm

Bad Brad — Will do. That’ll be my first question.

Jeff Schultz

January 24th, 2010
1:20 pm

AJ — I love the Manning vs. Saints storyline. Peyton obviously grew up there with his dad. Who does Archie root for?

Jeff Schultz

January 24th, 2010
1:21 pm

Jeffrey D — No kidding. I’d be ill if this whole thing worked out for Favre. I want a serious faceplant today.

AJ

January 24th, 2010
1:24 pm

Arch is in a “win- win” scernario. he is still involved with Saints and of course pulling for his boy.But Peyton has already won one and I think deep inside he is rooting for N.O for the town and people,

BravesFan79

January 24th, 2010
1:28 pm

How can anyone not love 2 legends like Farve or Kurt Warner? I love that Farve proved all the doubters wrong… go Vikings!!

Jeff Schultz

January 24th, 2010
1:30 pm

BravesFan79 — He certainly proved doubters about what he had left in the tank wrong, I’ll give you that. Doesn’t change what kind of guy he is, though.

2BT

January 24th, 2010
1:30 pm

Jeff, three questions……….

1. What is the meaing of life?

2. Fastest land animal?

3. If one’s last national championship is in 1980, are they REALLY relevant?

Thanks in advance.

2BT

January 24th, 2010
1:31 pm

meaning, rather

Grey Dog

January 24th, 2010
1:31 pm

Saints and Colts would be the best game! I think most people are tired of the Brett Favre Show!

Jeff Schultz

January 24th, 2010
1:32 pm

Meanwhile, just turned on the Tech game. FSU by 4 with 16 mins left.

2BT

January 24th, 2010
1:33 pm

and why is there no ‘live blog’ from Tally? Couldn’t Furman Bisher have filled in today?

Alex

January 24th, 2010
1:34 pm

Please ask Smitty what we are going to do to address our personnel issues on D. Is there any chance we might actually add a veteran stud via FA instead of just relying on draft picks?

O.K.

January 24th, 2010
1:43 pm

………………
………………..
………………….. GO SAINTS !

corkylikesbeer

January 24th, 2010
1:47 pm

Jeff,

What are your picks based on the betting lines…

corkylikesbeer

January 24th, 2010
1:49 pm

Jeff,

How do you like your coffee…are you a sugar man and/or cream or do you like it black?

Jeff Schultz

January 24th, 2010
1:49 pm

2BT.
1) Meaning of life: Life is a middle coach seat. But those Biscoff cookies rock.
2) Fastest land animal: Tie between a cheetah and a Jamaican sprinter.
3) If 92,000 fans go to every game and you’re always in the conversation (even if in September) and you play in the SEC and you make a ridunkulous amount of money, yes. (and you so just gave yourself away as a Tech fan).
How’s that.

Jeff Schultz

January 24th, 2010
1:51 pm

Alex — There will be a street free agent (or two) added to the defense, but it won’t be a big bucks guy. Most of the changes will come via the draft.

corkylikesbeer

January 24th, 2010
1:53 pm

Jeff, what about the over/under….jets game is 40.5 and vikings game is 54.

ToccoaDawg

January 24th, 2010
1:54 pm

Whats top priority in the Draft?

Jeff Schultz

January 24th, 2010
1:54 pm

Corkylikesbeer — I think both lines are scary and I’d stay away. But if I HAD to pick, I’d say both cover (Colts-8; Saints 3 1/2).

Jeff Schultz

January 24th, 2010
1:54 pm

Corkylikesbeer — Just cream. I’m sweet enough. (Aaaaaaaahhhh)

ToccoaDawg

January 24th, 2010
1:56 pm

Ask Mike if Arthur Blank would be a better commentator than you or bradley

2BT

January 24th, 2010
1:58 pm

Spot on! But 92,000 at every game is a reach – I certainly didn’t see a packed house two Novembers ago and I did see many of who did attend leaving in a ‘hurry’ late in the 4th. I’ll re-evaluate after this November! Thanks for the great work that you do – but again, you or Mark should be in Tally right now. I’m sure there’s an ‘establishment’ close by that Mike Bell could’ve recommended that either of you could’ve rushed to in order to ‘research and write about’ concerning the NFL games later today! :)

corkylikesbeer

January 24th, 2010
2:01 pm

jeff,

can you ask mike how old logan? Does she have a boyfriend?

Jeff Schultz

January 24th, 2010
2:01 pm

2BT — sorry, what’s Tally?

Jeff Schultz

January 24th, 2010
2:01 pm

Toccoa — D-line, LB or CB –best guy on that side of the ball.

JabboRockefeller

January 24th, 2010
2:04 pm

To avoid the obnoxious Manning story-line, I hope the Aints and Dolts LOSE.

Ask Smitty who they’re hoping will fall down to us in the draft. He ain’t gonna answer, but his dodge might be amusing…

I think Minnesota will destroy the Aints, BTW…

The Colts, unfortunately, will see the Jets revert to mid-season form. Jets lose BIG.

Gonna be a couple more ho-hummers…

Sonny Clusters

January 24th, 2010
2:08 pm

We was breaking down the politicians that go quail hunting and shoot somebody. We was reminded
of when was shooting some quail and one of ‘em flew kinda LOW and OUTSIDE and we was turning to see where he was going to go and “BAM” Jeff took the shot! Actually, Stinky Wintes took most of the shot in his rump and the little bird just flew on off grinning and we knew it was because he knew Jeff couldn’t lay off anything low and outside. That may be the problem with some of the politicians, too. We can ask Coach Smith.

2BT

January 24th, 2010
2:08 pm

Tallahassee – (14-4) #19 GT at (14-4) FSU

SLP

January 24th, 2010
2:08 pm

I’d like to know if the coach has any thoughts on which team Vick might be a good fit.

who dat grey haired QB?

January 24th, 2010
2:11 pm

The Vikings are a medicore 4-4 in road games.
—- Saints should win this one.

JabboRockefeller

January 24th, 2010
2:12 pm

Vick will end up with the Bills. Dan Reeves is pushing to be on that staff. I think there’s an underlying reason. I’ll bet Vick and Reeves still communicate. Maybe Vick put a bug in his ear.

Hillbilly Deluxe

January 24th, 2010
2:14 pm

2BT & Jeff

The best description I ever heard of life came from the late political columnist, James J Kilpatrick. He said that life was best compared to baseball, (paraphrase), “Some days good things happen and some days bad things happen, but most days are just three up and three down”.

Jeff Schultz

January 24th, 2010
2:14 pm

Just saw this from BowWow on Twitter: “RT THIS!!! TO ALL THE SAINTS FANS IN NEW ORLEANS. IF YALL WIN TODAY, I WILL BUY THE WHOLE CLUB DRINKS AT “RAYS OVER THE RIVER”

Jeff Schultz

January 24th, 2010
2:15 pm

Sonny, you lost me at Stinky Wintes’ rump.

Jeff Schultz

January 24th, 2010
2:16 pm

2BT — Oh yeah. Sorry. Never heard it called Tally before. Watching the game now. Why did Peacocke take that shot?

who dat grey haired QB?

January 24th, 2010
2:18 pm

The Saints will embarass the Vikings while consuming Dixie Beer and Oysters Rockefeller.

who dat grey haired QB?

January 24th, 2010
2:18 pm

EMBARRASS favre !

JabboRockefeller

January 24th, 2010
2:19 pm

“Why did Peacocke take that shot?”

I think he was just showing his tail…

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

January 24th, 2010
2:20 pm

Rump? You want to talk rumps? Mine got painted in Shreveport and I think the program should be investigated for allowing somebody to paint a little dog’s a$$. Ask Coach Smith where he stands on a$$ painting a little dog.