The plane carrying the Los Angeles Rams taxis to a halt at a remote area of O'Hare International Airport. As the door opens, the Rams notice a series of stretch limos waiting in line. Each is driven by a Chicago Bear.
"Mr. Dickerson, we're so glad you could make it," says the chauffeur of the first limo, Mike Singletary. "If you and the quarterback, Mr. Brock, would care to step in, I'll take you directly to the hotel.
"Mr. Dent and Mr. Fencik will be driving some of the other fellows. Coach Ditka has even taken the trouble to ride with Coach Robinson. Never mind about the bags. Our special-teamers will make sure they're in your rooms a few moments after checkin.
"Hope you enjoy the candy and fruit baskets we've also prepared." One of the cliches of football is that great teams cannot wait to play a one-dimensional offense, that they will do anything short of laundering unmentionables to make certain the undermanned opposition doesn't get lost before kickoff.
Simply put, much of the National Football League feels that although the Rams are in the same league as the Bears they don't belong on the same field Sunday. Few conference championship games have generated a wider point spread than the Bears' plus 10 1/2.
Like their namesakes, these Rams run swiftly and powerfully, and butt the bejabbers out of anyone who intrudes on their turf. Alas, these Rams also have no arms.
Now Dieter Brock might not be the worst quarterback ever to stumble into a major championship. But he's erratic. Also short. And his sidearm motion makes him play shorter than he actually is.
This seems compelling enough to dismiss the Rams, to, in fact, hustle off to relish a string quartet and not even bother with the predictable pummeling on Soldier Field.
We interrupt this easy and conventional thought for the minority report: how the Rams might not only make the game close but also win.
"I would run right at the Bears," said George Allen, who has lost little of his devotion to tactics in spite of his absence from pro football. "I would pound 'em and pound 'em and pound 'em. That's how you play pass rushers."
Here Allen paused and offered what seemed a strange opinion: "I think the Rams would have less of a chance to win if they had a good quarterback."
You mean if the Rams had, say, Phil Simms at quarterback they might not be as effective against the Bears? Is George going a bit daft on us?
"He's absolutely right," said an NFC assistant who traded honesty for anonymity. "If the Rams had a better quarterback, they might be tempted to pass more; that would be playing right into the Bears' hands."
History supports that.
History likes the Rams.
Chicago and Los Angeles have played twice since their respective coaches, Mike Ditka and John Robinson, assumed control. The Rams won both times.
In 1984, Eric Dickerson ran 28 times (for 149 yards) and the Rams' quarterback (Jeff Kemp) threw 15 passes; the Rams won, 29-13.
In 1983, Dickerson ran 34 times (for 127 yards) and the Rams' quarterback (Vince Ferragamo) threw 23 passes; the Rams won, 21-13.
Each time, however, the Rams were at home.
"We'll find out a lot about Eric Dickerson Sunday," the NFC assistant said. "He may never have played in that sort of cold and never been beaten up like he figures to be.
"The Bears will have eight or nine guys goin' at him. They'll try and pound him into submission. But keep in mind that the Bears play a gambling defense, and that the Rams are strong enough to break Dickerson through that front.
"If he gets into the secondary, it'll be Dickerson against (Gary) Fencik. I'll take Dickerson if that happens."
The Rams also have wonderful speed on kickoff (Ron Brown) and punt returns (Henry Ellard), a fine punter (rookie Dale Hatcher) and an excellent secondary in what Robinson jokingly calls "a chicken zone defense."
"But if the Rams ever get behind by 10 or 14 points," the aide said, "kiss it off. I like the Bears."
In their fashion, the Dolphins figure to be nearly as one-dimensional against New England in the AFC title game. Except that, like Flipper, they are a bit more imaginative and can get from one point to the other stupefyingly quickly.
"But (quarterback Dan) Marino can be impatient," said an assistant who has helped draw up game plans against both the Dolphins and Patriots. "If he has any kind of bad day, it could be a long afternoon.
"The Patriots are a legit running team. And that's Miami's (defensive) weakness. New England can keep the ball out of Marino's hands.
"Also, Miami had better find a way to block (linebacker) Andre Tippett. The Raiders did, but he's a Lawrence Taylor-type player. And the secondary matches up pretty well with the Dolphins."
New England's hard work and devotion to special teams has been blessed this postseason. Each of the last two playoff weeks, the opposition has lost the ball on a kickoff return and the Patriots have recovered for a touchdown.
Nobody was within several yards of the Raiders' Sam Seale when the ball clanked off his chest; the Patriots' Jim Bowman smothered it in the end zone.
New England had to drive all of 21 yards for a touchdown after recovering a fumble by the usually reliable Fulton Walker on a punt last Sunday.
Special-teams turnovers accounted for 14 points for the Patriots in a seven-point victory. So, a reasonable person could argue that the Raiders lost that AFC semifinal more than the Patriots won it.
Quarterback Tony Eason completed just seven passes; only one went to a wide receiver. Still, the Patriots have been very good and very lucky. That's often an unbeatable combination.
They won't rip the Dolphins' faces off, as defensive end Julius Adams vowed. But I'll pick 'em to stop a losing streak in Miami that dates all the way back to when Allen was a coach -- with the Rams.