No matter how Sunday's conference championship games play out, the Super Bowl's storylines will be spectacular.
We could get "Heroes of the Heartland'' (Peyton Manning vs. Brett Favre). And how about "Stars Align for the Star-Crossed'' (Jets-Saints)? Or "Now and Then,'' with Manning's Colts against the Saints, his dad's team when Peyton was a kid in New Orleans.
For Jets fans, "Brett, We Didn't Forget'' would be an unimagined showdown with endless angles. How sweet it would be to take down the man who raised their hopes last season, then broke their hearts.
LINE: Colts by 7 1/2
TV-Radio: Ch. 2, ESPN (1050), 3 p.m.
Here's how Jim Caldwell can make it up to Colts fans for tossing away a perfect record against the Jets. Before the game, he appears on the video screen and says: "Hear me now, Rex Ryan. You have come full circle. Yes, we gave you playoff life, and now we will take it away. And of course I mean no disrespect.''
Can the ground-and-pound Jets knock off Indy? Probably not, but unless Mark Sanchez cracks in the biggest game of his life, don't expect a blowout.
The Colts have been lucky all season, and they got more good breaks and bounces against the Ravens. But the Jets have the magic dust, which can mean everything in January. They can keep it close by playing keep-away with the run, and 7 1/2 is a tough number to cover.
The pick: Jets
VIKINGS (13-4) at SAINTS (14-3)
Line: Saints by 3 1/2
TV-Radio: Ch. 5, WFAN (660), 6:30 p.m.
Nice thought: One eternally frustrated fan base will be ecstatic. The Saints have never reached the Super Bowl. The Vikings haven't been to one in 33 years, and before the Bills went 0-for-4 in The Big One, Minnesota had been there and done that.
The Saints' offense is unstoppable when it's on, and I doubt that the Vikings can put as much heat on Drew Brees as they got on Tony Romo. Minnesota's secondary is shaky, and the Vikings have lost three straight on the road. New Orleans' defense is erratic, and maybe Favre's long-anticipated meltdown won't ever happen, so take the over.
The clincher: Brad Childress does not strike me as a guy who'll be smiling at the end of a championship game.
The pick: Saints