With the NFC crown at stake, two veteran scribes meet at the line of scrimmage to talk up their cities. The Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist who uses the byline C.J. goes up against our own Stu Bykofsky:
Stu: Like most Americans, I've never been to Minnesota, the Gopher State. (Gophers are rodents.) What am I missing, other than frostbite, ice fishing, and the Mall of America?
C.J.: If you're too stupid to avoid frostbite, I can't help, but when you want to eat something fantastic, just tell me what ethnicity of food your taste buds desire. We have a dining scene more varied than artery-clogging cheesesteaks and scrapple. We have much theater and the headquarters of Target, General Mills, Land O'Lakes, and US Bancorp.
Stu: You sound defensive. Philly has Cigna, Aramark, Sunoco — and Comcast, which will raise your cable rates if the Vikings win. They might do it anyway. They just raised mine.
C.J.: After the Vikings finish with the Eagles, your unruly fans will anxiously embrace your team's new mascot: the turkey.
Stu: Gobble this: Ben Franklin supposedly wanted the turkey for our national symbol. You don't like scrapple? What Scandinavian treats do you have? Mayo?
C.J.: That's the clinic. We have lutefisk, which is fish soaked/cured in lye.
Stu: That's sure different, as Minnesotans say. I'll pass.
C.J.: Me, too. Do you have any pointers on how Vikings fans can enjoy the game without being beaten up at your stadium or taking a face full of snowball intended for Santa?
C.J.: Are you bragging about bad behavior?
Stu: We are the City of Brotherly Shove. You are Minnesota Nice. How will that play on Sunday?
C.J.: You'll find out, just like New Orleans.
C.J.: Prince was our go-to musical genius.
Stu: That's not counting Bob Dylan or Garrison Keillor, who got fired for being too Minnesota Nice.
Stu: They'll be watching in the activities room. I hope the game ends before lights out. The Eagles have been home underdogs four times in the last half-century. They won all four games. An omen?
C.J.: The Vikings are focused on the can of whupazz they are popping open Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. Vikings don't shiver.
Stu: They choke. The Purple People Pleaders played in four Super Bowls without winning one.
C.J.: That'd be two more than the Eagles played in without winning.
Stu: Minneapolis should name a school or park for Marcus Williams, whose blown tackle created the Minnesota Miracle that allowed overrated Stefon Diggs to score the winning touchdown.
C.J.: Yeah, right about the time Philly names something for Julio Jones, who couldn't catch that potential game-winning pass over Jalen Mills.
Stu: You are the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The Linc is right across from the Lakes in FDR Park. Just sayin'. By the way, how do you feel about your team being named after murdering, pillaging marauders?
C.J.: Better to have an unsavory mascot identity than the most classless fans in the NFL. You had a jail in your stadium.
Stu: The judge who ran that jail later was suspended for involvement in a porn scandal. You can't make this stuff up — but you elected wrestler Jesse Ventura to be your governor. Talk about classless.
C.J.: He was an underdog — and because you are underdogs, your fans and players are trying to improve their looks by wearing dog masks.