Super Bowl, Olympics And Prince's Fight Song

There's a competition this weekend to decide who'll represent the U.S. in one of the Winter Olympics' most popular events. Sunday, two games will decide which teams move on to the Super Bowl. Guest host Audie Cornish talks with NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman about the NFL playoffs and about a new Minnesota Vikings fight song — by Prince.

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AUDIE CORNISH, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Im Audie Cornish.

Time now for sports.

(Soundbite of music)

CORNISH: Theres a competition tonight to decide wholl represent the U.S. in one of the Winter Olympics most popular events. Plus, weve got football. Tomorrow, two games to decide which teams move on to the Super Bowl.

Joining me now is NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Hey, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN: Hi, Audie.

CORNISH: So before we start talking about tackling and touchdowns, lets deal with sequence and triple axels.

Tonight in Spokane, Washington, its one of the finals of the womens competition at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. And it looks like its down to three skaters vying for just two spots on the Olympic team.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, kind of unfair. The top three in the standings - Mirai Nagasu, Sasha Cohen, Rachel Flatt. They have the best shot at those top two spots. So, it will be nerve-wracking for them. Theyre separated by less than one point. But only two can qualify.

CORNISH: And Mirai Nagasu, just 16 years old. Shes leading after Thursdays short program. But I guess all the attention is on second place, on Sasha Cohen.

GOLDMAN: Thats right. This is a comeback for Cohen. She hasnt been on the competitive scene since 2006, the year she won the Olympic silver medal. Shes been skating in ice shows, but thats not the same as elite high-pressure competition.

Now, she did quite well in the short program in Spokane. The question is, can she skate the long program tonight without the mistakes that have plagued her in past pressure situations? If she does, Audie, her presence in Vancouver next month at the ancient skating age of 25 - will definitely spice up the competition there.

CORNISH: All right. So, I want to move on to tackle football. Weve got some champions who came here. Tomorrow, the Indianapolis Colts host the New York Jets in the AFC Championship game. And then later in the day, its the Minnesota Vikings against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship. Tell me about these games.

GOLDMAN: Well, the Jets have been the wonderful story. Theyve won two straight playoff games on the road. Theyve got rookie quarterback, Mark Sanchez, a very funny head coach Rex Ryan who said at the start of the post-season his team would win the Super Bowl. That was a good laugh then but, you know, as the Jets have been inched closer, people arent laughing.

Theyre a tough team. Theyve got a great defense. Sadly for them, it all probably ends tomorrow, the main reason being that the Colts Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the NFL , one of the greatest ever. He is the guy who can figure out the Jets defense, which has confounded teams recently.

Now, it sounds impossible for New York to win. If the Jets run the ball well -which eats up a lot of time - that keeps Manning off the field. Thats New Yorks best hope. But thats why the Indianapolis defense is also key because if they can contain the running attack, force the Jets quarterback Sanchez to throw more, it may force him to make rookie mistakes, which he hasnt so far.

CORNISH: Well, nothing rookie about the quarterbacks in the second game. I mean, nine-year veteran Drew Brees for the Saints and that 40-year-old graybeard Brett Favre, talk about that.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, theyre both playing great. Their teams are clicking on offense and defense. It should be a very entertaining game and some key questions. Will the Vikings running back, Adrian Peterson, run well enough to divert defensive pressure away from Favre, allow him to make more of his magic? Will Drew Brees be able to counter the Vikings aggressing pass rush with short quick passes? Lots of questions you can answer either any of them, all of them either way, and thats why this game is hard to handicap.

CORNISH: And now, dispatch from the world with the random. It appears that the singer Prince hasnt had much trouble making a prediction. He wrote a new fight song for the Minnesota Vikings.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, Minnesotas...

(Soundbite of song, Purple and Gold)

Unidentified Group: (Singing) We come in the name of the purple and gold.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOLDMAN: Sorry, dont mean to interrupt Prince. Hes the funkiest fan, wrote in ode to the Vikings this week. It predicts great things for Minnesota. The song is not great, Audie. Lets call it more spirit than art.

CORNISH: NPRs sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks.

GOLDMAN: Youre welcome.

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