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Balance key for Minnesota

HOW THEY GOT HERE: The Vikings went 12-4 in the regular season, wobbling at the end but earning a first-round bye. They defeated Dallas 34-3 in the divisional playoff round.

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Minnesota Vikings' Visanthe Shiancoe, left, and Adrian Peterson celebrate in the end zone after Shiancoe caught a ten-yard touchdown pass during an NFL football game on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune,Brian Peteson

HOW THEY GOT HERE: The Vikings went 12-4 in the regular season, wobbling at the end but earning a first-round bye. They defeated Dallas 34-3 in the divisional playoff round.

Super Bowl-bound if: The NFL's most complete team can play the way it did against the Cowboys. Minnesota (No. 5 offense, No. 6 defense) is the only remaining team that can claim even top-17 rankings on both sides of the ball and the Vikings put everything together against Dallas, holding a hot offense to 248 total yards.

Homeward-bound if: The Vikings cannot keep pace with New Orleans' prolific offense and maintain their poise amid the frenzy of the Superdome. Having a 40-year-old quarterback might help in that regard.

Biggest variable: Whether the Vikings can pressure quarterback Drew Brees. Defensive end Jared Allen registered 14.5 sacks during the regular season and Ray Edwards sacked Dallas' Tony Romo three times.

Best player: This team is loaded with talent, and you have to credit Brett Favre for taking the Vikings to their first NFC title game in nine years. Running back Adrian Peterson is truly Minnesota's best player, although Allen comes close and Favre might be this season's MVP.

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Best player you've never heard of: Heath Farwell, a reserve linebacker, was selected for the Pro Bowl as a special teams player.

Reasons to cheer for them: Known for their Super Bowl failures long before the Buffalo Bills came along, the Vikings have never won a championship and last played in the Super Bowl in January 1977.

Favre could make himself more than legendary by winning a title at 40.

Reasons to cheer against them:Favre lost a lot of favor by continually retiring and coming back, leaving Green Bay after 16 years and the New York Jets after one year. Childress authorized a late touchdown drive against Dallas that was clearly unnecessary.

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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