The outcome of Sunday’s NFC title game could hinge on the answer to one question.
Can a top-notch defense stop a top-notch offense?
The New Orleans Saints bring the NFL’s top-ranked offense to Chicago, where the Bears will showcase the NFC’s top-ranked defense.
“(The Saints) have lots of weapons,” Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer told reporters. “But they say great pitching beats great hitting, and I think great defense beats great offense.”
ESPN’s Joe Theismann, who guided the Washington Redskins to a 27-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII, begs to differ – in this case.
“I honestly don’t believe there is a way to stop (the Saints’) offense,” he said. “The best bet is to use your offense to keep the Saints’ potent offense off the field. That means successfully running the ball and chewing up clock.
“What makes this offense so special isn’t the number of playmakers it has, but the rhythm in which every offensive player plays. They do a wonderful job of getting on the field and executing their game plan with precise timing. It’s imperative for the Bears to break that up this week.”
That will be no small chore, however.
Behind All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints averaged a league-leading 391.5 yards a game during the regular season - and they haven’t let up during the postseason.
From the look of things, the Saints may have all of the answers.