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Jim Souhan

Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene

Souhan: Re-seeding the Vikings and NFL playoffs

My view of the strength of the final four teams in the NFL playoffs, regardless of game site:

1. New England Patriots

Have allowed the fewest points in the NFL since Oct. 1 and thrive on offense under almost all circumstances. As long as Brady and Gronk are healthy, they are the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

2. Minnesota Vikings

I thought going into the playoffs that they were the strongest team in the NFC and that hasn't changed, even though they required a miracle to win on Sunday. They are the most balanced of the remaining teams. The biggest question is whether their defense's struggles in the second half against New Orleans were indicative of an ongoing flaw. Mike Zimmer blamed himself for becoming predictable.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

If Carson Wentz had remained healthy, the Eagles might be No. .1. But he didn't and with Nick Foles the offense is limited.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

This team reminds me of the 2012 Vikings, who were built around Adrian Peterson and asked Christian Ponder to merely convert short-yardage third downs. This Jacksonville defense may be better, and more physical up front, but the Patriots are likely to take away everything they like to do.

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Souhan: Previous gaffes momentarily diminished after Vikings stunner

As if all of the bad luck and misery that had attended so many of their big games was reversed by one strange, inexplicable, fortune- and reality-altering play.

The Vikings were desperate. Case Keenum dropped back and threw a high pass to the right sideline. Stefon Diggs leapt, caught the pass, and braced for the tackle.

The tackle never came.Saints safety Marcus Williams, needing only to tackle Diggs to kill the clock and secure the victory, put his head down, dove at Diggs' legs...and missed. Completely.

Diggs sprinted down the sideline and scored on a 61-yard touchdown play that gave the Vikings a 30-24 victory in the divisional playoffs at U.S. Bank Stadium and a berth in the NFC Championship game.

Gary Anderson's miss? Brett Favre's interception? Drew Pearson's pushoff? Blair Walsh's shank?

All were not forgotten but momentarily diminished by one of the strangest and greatest plays in franchise history.

The Vikings have a chance to become the first team to paly in their home stadium for a Super Bowl, and for once they may have fortune on their side.


Please go to startribune.com and buy the Monday paper for massive team coverage of this game. @Souhanstrib