Toronto, Canada – By Simon Evans
MIAMI (Reuters) - Comeback quarterback Brett Favre refuses to look beyond Sunday's playoff showdown with the Dallas Cowboys despite knowing defeat for his Minnesota Vikings will refuel speculation about the 40-year-old's future.
"All I want to do is beat Dallas," Favre told reporters. "To even think about next year is doing myself an injustice and this team an injustice.
"I came in here for one reason and that is to hopefully lead this team to the Super Bowl this year, not next year.
"We have that opportunity and I am going to devote every ounce of energy to this game."
Favre, who came out of retirement for a two-year deal with the Vikings, has a solitary Super Bowl triumph to his name with the Green Bay Packers at the end of the 1996 season.
Standing between Favre and a place in the NFC Championship game -- against New Orleans or Arizona -- is another high-profile quarterback in the Cowboys' Tony Romo.
Until this season Romo was in danger of being better known for his tabloid romances than for his passing game and early in this season came in for some strong criticism.
The low point was in week two when Romo threw three interceptions that led directly to touchdowns in a 33-31 defeat by the New York Giants.
But Romo ended the regular season with the fourth-best ranking among quarterbacks and the best stats of his career including 4,483 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones backed Romo when he was facing a barrage of criticism in September and believes his quarterback has benefitted from coming through that spell.
"I would never have the confidence I have in him today had he not had his adversity," said Jones. "That criticism knocked a little of the naivety out of him."
The playoff game with the most intriguing resonance brings the Baltimore Ravens to the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts franchise infamously moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis in removal vans at night in 1984 and it took 13 years for the city to regain an NFL team.
While Baltimore fans will be fired up by those painful memories, the Colts are favorites with a 14-2 regular season record.
They are also appearing in the playoffs for an NFL record eighth consecutive season.
The game features the outstanding quarterback play of the Colts' Peyton Manning will be up against Baltimore's rock-solid defense led by linebacker Ray Lewis.
In the NFC's other tie, the Arizona Cardinals, having come out on top in their remarkable 51-45 overtime wildcard win over Green Bay, travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints, whose 13-3 record led conference in the regular season.
The 38-year-old Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, who narrowly missed out on a Super Bowl ring in last year's last-gasp defeat by Pittsburgh, is, like Favre, aiming to go out with a second triumph after winning with the St Louis Rams at the end of the 1999 season.
(Editing by Ken Ferris and Alastair Himmer)