Welcome to Saturday Scorecard, where we wrestle with the pressing sports questions of the day, such as: do you want ranch or bleu cheese dressing with those hot wings?
Super Bowl Sunday may be a national holiday for sofa lounging and junk food consumption, but true football fans know that the "Championship Sunday" is better. A football doubleheader, if you will.
Here are some notes to help you pass the time until kickoff.
Divided loyalties: In an era of bitter partisan politics, it's no surprise that the thought of Brett Favre quarterbacking the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game has people foaming at the mouth.
One camp wants him to win triumphantly. The other wants him to fail in an epic sense.
But, that's enough about Kiln, Miss. . . .
The reasons may be different, but folks at the Broke Spoke are as conflicted as their cheesehead cousins in Wisconsin. Our friends to the south love Brett Favre, but they also love Drew Brees and the Saints, the final obstacle standing between Brett and a third Super Bowl.
In these parts, folks love Favre and what he means to the Packers, but hate that he plays for the enemy. The past few days on local sports talk radio have resembled a health care town hall meeting. People are digging in and sticking to their positions without a lot of tolerance for other viewpoints.
That conflict is good for sports and will undoubtedly lead to monstrous ratings for the game, which is slated to start at 5:40 p.m. on FOX.
For fans in Wisconsin and on Rotten Bayou, much of the debate can be alleviated with one sentence.
If it were any other team. . .
Imagine if Favre were still with the Jets and was facing off against Peyton Manning and the Colts this afternoon in Indianapolis. Many in Wisconsin and Mississippi would be gobbling up New York merchandise and cheering for him to go all the way and win another Super Bowl ring.
Favre's move to Minnesota, the Packers' hated rival, poisoned public opinion about him in Wisconsin. Generous fans would like to see him do well and the Vikings lose. That's precisely the way many Saints/Favre fans feel. The compartmentalization of emotions is what makes the run-up to this matchup feel so tense.
So, how will this be resolved? Like most big games between evenly-matched competitors, you have to look toward turnovers, penalties and special teams.
The Saints are favored by 3 1/2 points, primarily because they'll have home-dome advantage and be backed by leather-lunged fans thirsty for a title. Brees is an outstanding quarterback, but if he loses this game people will be fitting him with the Dan Marino suit (worn by outstanding QBs who can't get it done in the playoffs). Favre has the experience and other intangibles.
Saints running back Reggie Bush and Vikings counterpart Adrian Peterson (who hasn't rushed for 100 yards since mid-season) are spectacular backs, but could cancel each other out or, more likely, be overshadowed by the passing game. The defenses are solid, but this looks like it could be a shootout decided by turnovers and special teams play.
Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin's migraine headache could be a sidebar, but the determining factor in this game will be how the teams play up front.
As a free agent in the spring of 2006, he picked the Saints over Miami and other teams. The six-year, $60 million contract was part of the equation, but Brees also was drawn to the city recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.
"You just say, man, what happened here? It looks like a nuclear bomb went off," Brees told reporters this week. "I said this from the beginning, I felt like it was a calling.
"An opportunity to come here and not only being a part of the rebuilding of the organization and getting the team back to its winning ways, but to be part of the rebuilding of the city and the region. How many people get that opportunity in their life to be a part of something like that?"
Brees won his teammates over with his "first to arrive, last to leave" approach to practice. He and his wife have been active in charitable endeavors and endeared themselves to the city.
Vikings fans have warmed up to Favre, a man they respected but generally hated, but it doesn't match the bond that Brees has in Crescent City.
Admiration society: Washington Wizards guard Caron Butler, who grew up in Racine, will be cheering for the Vikings tomorrow.
"I have always been a huge Brett Favre fan," Butler told Pro Football Weekly. "Initially when I got drafted by the Miami Heat, I picked No. 4 because Brett was my childhood hero as he was for a lot of kids in Wisconsin."
Butler said he has a Favre jersey hanging over his fireplace, but has never met his hero.
Sign of the times: It wasn't surprising on the surface, but the Packers' decision to increase ticket prices by an average of $9 does send a daunting message.
Based on the fan interest, the stadium experience, the team's run of success and the burgeoning secondary market, Packers tickets always have seemed a bit underpriced.
From this corner, the scary thing about this decision is that it seems as though the Packers are girding for a potential lockout after an upcapped year in 2010.
"The new pricing strengthens our ability to be competitive both on and off the field with teams in larger markets," team president Mark Murphy said in announcing the increase. "With the future landscape regarding the Collective Bargaining Agreement unknown, teams will be even more competitive in terms of generating revenue. The increased revenue will allow us to focus financial resources on supporting a successful football team, our No. 1 goal.
"Over the past three years our average stadium bowl ticket price fell to 30th in the NFL. Being in that position puts us at a disadvantage from a business standpoint, a situation not viable to the long-term prospects of our publicly owned franchise. For that reason, it is crucial for the Packers to be efficient, smart and competitive with our financial resources, including maintaining an appropriate ticket price.
Larry King Lounge: He may not send folks scurrying to the ticket windows, but Doug Davis will solidify the Brewers' starting rotation. Randy Wolf had 24 quality starts last season. Davis had 22. The Brewers feel their offense and bullpen are good enough to win games if their starters can keep them close until the seventh inning. . . When it comes to theme songs, the Vikings would be better off rallying around Favre's "Pants on the Ground" than Prince's lame "Purple and Gold." . . . Favre is 4-0 in meetings against Saints defensive coordinator Greg Williams. Favre hasn't played particularly well in the last three meetings, though. . . . Construction is underway to build the rink for the Culver's Camp Randall Hockey Classic Feb. 6.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.