There aren't many (or any) elected officials who spend Sundays the way Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell does - staring back at the voters while opining about football. Politicians who get that kind of dedicated TV time are usually being investigated by federal prosecutors.

Rendell, of course, never tried to sell a Senate seat. He might sell his soul for an Eagles championship, though.

After the Fates ushered the Birds to the playoffs, Rendell was just like everyone else in town - excited and nervous. In advance of today's Eagles-Vikings game, we talked about the Birds' crazy season, the chances that Sherman will rise and march through Tampa, and why a high-five to the face is better than a hug from your aunt.

A week ago, people were pretty down on the Eagles. Now, everyone's giddy. Will the mood stay this way, or might it shift back to dark?

It depends on what happens. If they win, or if they play a good game but lose on a field goal as time expires, I think we'll take a deep breath and say it's still a successful season. But if they look flat on offense and they lose 24-7 or 24-10, then the Cowboys game is forgotten and Andy [Reid] and Donovan [McNabb] are back on the hot seat.

The city has been torn over that - whether they should be back next year. Should they?

I think both Andy and Donovan will be back, and they deserve it. The test is, do they win? I think they've made the playoffs seven out of the 10 years that Andy has been here. Now, if Andy had lost his players, then he'd have to go. But he hasn't. They look like they're still playing for him. He's lost some of the fans, but not his players.

OK, so what are the chances the Eagles beat the Vikings?

When you think about it, all the clunkers this season have been on the road. They had terrible games against Chicago, Cincinnati, Baltimore. But it's hard to think they won't beat the Vikings.

You sound a little worried that the Eagles might still disappoint everyone.

Absolutely. This is a hugely important game, but so was Washington. It's been such a strange season. They were really the only team to dominate the Steelers this year. And they beat the Giants on the road. And they crushed the Cowboys. But they also tied the Bengals. It's hard to fathom that the same team did all that. Right now, I'm excited. The fans are excited. We have all the momentum. But I have that little nagging thing in the back of my mind because you're never sure which team will show up for the playoffs. If it's the team that beat the Steelers, Giants and Cowboys, I think the Eagles will play the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

Well, that would be nice for Pennsylvania.

It wouldn't be so good for the city of Tampa. They'd end up leveling it. It would be like Sherman marching through Atlanta - there wouldn't be anything left.

If that does happen, do you think you'll catch heat from the Western part of the state for being loyal to the Birds?

I make it clear whenever the Eagles play the Steelers that I'm an Eagles fan. I don't get any flak from the real football fans. From the casual fans I might get some flack. I always tell people, imagine if someone had lived in Pittsburgh for 30 years and been the mayor. Then that same person becomes the governor and, when the Steelers play the Eagles, he remains neutral instead of rooting for the Steelers. You'd rip his eyes out. So don't expect me to act any different.

If the Eagles somehow win it all, how big will it be since the Phillies ended the drought?

I think the Eagles have broader support. Not bigger, broader. And not by much. Eagles fans are a little louder. But the Phillies were the first, so it can't be bigger. And the parade would be handicapped by the weather. You couldn't pick a better day for a parade than the one the Phillies had.

Incidentally, did you see Jeffrey Lurie high-five his wife in the face last week? What a perfect metaphor for the Eagles season.

They're partners in many ways. Christina didn't even blink.

If you high-fived me in the face, Governor, I wouldn't react nearly as well.

Yeah, but what's Jeffrey - 170 or 175 pounds? It's not like Tra Thomas high-fived her. I thought the hug between Jeff and Howard [Eskin] was better.

What are you talking about?

You missed it? On the field after the game, Howard was giving out hugs. You could tell he was really into it, and he gave one to Jeffrey. Jeff looked like he was hugging his elderly aunt with bad breath.

The latest odds have the Birds at 5-1 to win the NFC. Meanwhile, the Eagles are an 11-1 shot to win the Super Bowl. Only the Giants (3-1), Steelers (5-1), Panthers (6-1), Titans (7-1) and Colts (8-1) have better odds to win it all. . . . Which team will show up? The motivated squad that crushed the Cowboys, or the underachievers who fell to the 'Skins? Plan for at least one more week of playoff football. Eagles 28, Vikings 10.

Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813