NEW ORLEANS -- One good story has to end here tonight.
Will it be that of a team that rallied around a backup quarterback who had been written off, then saved a season that looked like it was going nowhere?
Or will it be that of a team supposed to finish last, but ended up surprising the league and delighting the victory-starved fans of a region recovering from an epic natural disaster?
The Eagles (11-6) and the Saints (10-6) both have had remarkable seasons, and they'll converge in the Louisiana Superdome, an iconic stadium with its own storied past.
"It's been a good ride so far. I don't want it to end," Saints running back Deuce McAllister said. "So it's up to us to make plays and not let it end."
McAllister, whose upbringing in central Mississippi gives him a special bond with fans in the region, has never been to the NFL playoffs. One victory gets him to the NFC Championship game, which would be new ground for the 40-year-old Saints franchise.
NFC title games have become old hat for the Eagles under coach Andy Reid. They've been to four of the last five, winning once. They're still looking for that first Super Bowl victory, but this didn't look like their year when star quarterback Donovan McNabb went out for the season with a fluky knee injury.
But reserve quarterback Jeff Garcia has been a good fit for the Eagles, thriving under a similar offense in San Francisco before a pair of miserable seasons in Cleveland and Detroit. The Eagles dropped to 5-6 after losing Garcia's first start, but have won all six games since.
"You always dream and really look forward to being a part of something special," Garcia said after practice this week.
Few expected the Saints, displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, to emerge from a vagabond 3-13 season as playoff contenders.
They found the right coach in Sean Payton, who had been overlooked by other teams. They signed quarterback Drew Brees, whose health was deemed suspect by doctors for the Dolphins. Brees threw for an NFL-best 4,418 yards.
When Houston bypassed Reggie Bush in the NFL draft, the Saints scooped him up.
And Marques Colston, seventh-round pick out of Division 1-AA Hofstra, emerged as the team's most productive receiver.
Then there was the matter of the Saints playing in New Orleans at all. The Superdome, home to Super Bowls, Final Fours, legendary concerts and even a papal visit, was torn up by Katrina.
It was rebuilt in time for the Saints to play a full home schedule one season later -- and now at least one playoff game.
Does the word destiny come to mind?