<span> <span style="">Ridiculous- adj.-laughable; arousing or deserving ridicule.</span>
Which is what Minnesota Vikings star cornerback Antoine Winfield described to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune the atmosphere he expects he and his teammates to be confronted with on Sunday afternoon when they take to the field in the NFC Championship Game against the New Orleans Saints.
"It's going to be a sharp atmosphere," tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, a former teammate of Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey in New York, said.
Regardless of the adjectives selected, it is fair to assume that the Superdome crowd may well work themselves into a fevered pitch reminiscent of the Saints' return to the Superdome in 2006 on a Monday Night Game against the Atlanta Falcons.
"It's going to be nuts," said Saints quarterback Drew Brees. "Our crowd still amazes me. Just when you think you have heard it as loud as you think it can possibly be, they somehow reach down and find another level. We're going to need it this Sunday. This is a heck of a team we are facing."
There is irony in the fact that the Saints and Vikings will clash in the championship game, as both teams were seemingly involved in a front-running gate-to-wire speed duel throughout the season for the top spot in the NFC playoff race. Without fail with each Saints win throughout the season, the Vikings would mirror the results and never be far back in the rearview mirror.
With both the Saints and the Vikings having vanquished their respective divisional playoff game rivals by 31 points, it sets up a meeting the Saints deservedly earned with their 13-3 regular season record. To the victor's: a trip to Super Bowl XLIV to face either the Indianapolis Colts or the New York Jets.
Four teams remain, all with the same hopes and aspirations: South Florida.
"They're an extremely good team; they've proven that all year," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "They have a great offense, defense, special teams. You can't say enough about them."
Countered Saints under-rated outside linebacker Scott Shanle, "Minnesota deserves all the credit they get. Dallas was on a roll coming into that game, and they really took it to them.
"I hope everyone out there is picking Minnesota and not giving us a chance, " Shanle said. "It seems like we play better when nobody gives us a chance."
Many of the national pundits will assuredly be predicting a shoot-out on the Superdome floor, with the Saints toting a league-best scoring average of 31.9 points per game into the contest, followed closely by the Vikings at 29.4.
"This is probably going to be the biggest test that we've seen all year, just because they do have such an explosive offense," said Tyrell Johnson, Minnesota's second-year safety.
In 2008 the two teams combined to post 57 total points, with the Vikings coming out on top, 30-27.
"Playing against New Orleans, we know they can put up points," Winfield said. "Drew Brees is having a great year. He has weapons on the outside. Reggie Bush is playing well. It is going to be a challenge for us, but we are excited and are going to be up to it."