TAMPA, Fla. — Before the recriminations and second-guessing begin, let's take a moment on this Sunday morning to relish what we are about to see.

We're about to see greatness. And other forms of excellence.

Tom Brady is great. Maybe the greatest ever.

Rob Gronkowski is great. Maybe one of the greatest ever.

Dalvin Cook is as good a back as there is in the NFL, and the Vikings have one of the best receiving duos, and safety duos, in the league.

Now, Brady is 43 and struggling to throw the ball with accuracy downfield, and Gronkowski is battered, and Cook is overworked, but this is the tableau the NFL presents every December. Which is why so many people love it so.

The league is not just about talent or schemes. It's about a test of toughness that most humans will never be required to pass.

If you are an NFL player and your team is in contention in December, you spend every week in recovery.

To beat this statistics into the ground, Cook is coming off a career-high 38 touches and has averaged 30 touches over his last six games.

He's also returning to his home state and is willing to take on the responsibility of leading his team.

It all makes for exceptional viewing, because it's exceptional theater.

Ben Goessling and I are covering the game from the press box at Raymond James Stadium. The rest of our team is covering virtually.

You can read my column on Kirk Cousins and our team coverage at startribune.com now and all day. We'll have full coverage of the game up tonight and in the Monday paper.

Thanks for reading.