Scotland need to beat Ireland to lift fans
Who will win, Scotland or Ireland, this coming weekend? Should a Martian, newly landed on this earth, be asked his or her views he or she would say that Ireland are favourites despite Scotland's win last year.
Assuming Martians can be assigned a gender.
Bill Shankly, the superb former Liverpool manager, was incredibly misguided when he said that winning or losing in sport wasn't a matter of life or death - but much more important.
Fans of Ireland and Scotland will meet at Murrayfield desperate to see their national team win. Photo: Getty.
As it happens, the northern tip of the African continent is falling apart, there's a clip on the BBC's website of three blokes stealing a kill from under the noses of a pack of 15 hungry lions, we are about to have public service cut-backs the likes of which we have never seen before, Big Fat Gypsy Wedding got more viewers than the Brits, and my neighbour, a doctor, is heading back to A&E as I write this to mop up what's been left over from the Old Firm game.
Sport is mere entertainment and yet, as in all forms of entertainment, especially those which carry an awful lot of national pride, success takes on huge importance. A country can feel terrible if its team loses.
So, are Scotland up to the task of beating Ireland?
I'm a fan of Irish rugby, but grudgingly. Rugby in Ireland is sexy; the four proud provinces are performing, and the punters pay to peer in large numbers.
Munster's players, you feel, would do anything to win. Leinster players, in my view, have the best technique in the Magners League in terms of the breakdown and "shape" and perhaps only Jerry Garcia sang "Don't Let Go" with more volume than Connacht players, Ulster seem consistent in the middle of the table.
I can just imagine the Irish players almost frantic in their need to win a game in the Six Nations. It's a squad full of star players. You write a list that includes Jamie Heaslip, Brian O'Driscoll (I roomed with his uncle once), Tommy Bowe, and the new hard-hitting sensation that is Sean O'Brien and you get the feeling that the Irish can will start powering their way to wins.
By contrast, our game is now full of fans who doubt the ability of the players. The logic goes like this: we've signed one of the best coaches in the world, we pay the players to train and practise, they've won some big games, but now when they fail it means the players just can't be good enough. I don't buy that.
Sean Lamont's comments, where he said that the players needed to have a clear-the-air meeting, were, in my view, completely misconstrued. He was only calling for a heart-to-heart talk without the coaches there, which is healthy in my view. Very positive and by no means negative.
So, it's fascinating. The game takes on something more than just winning or losing. It's all about strategy, promises delivered, a test of players, and in some ways a test of support. Murrayfield is getting pretty quiet.
Scrums on Sunday will be inconclusive, in my view, as the French rattled both packs at set pieces - likewise lineouts. The Irish should have a marginal advantage at breakdown as they are incredibly smart there and both teams must, simply must, have a good idea as to how the other side is going to play.
In my view the key to the game is the 9, 10, 12, 13 axis and as I write this I don't know who is picked. It's a settled Irish midfield, and an unsettled Scottish one.
It's a key game, one that I think Scotland can win, but it will take a secure midfield and a significant increase in effort to get the victory we need.
What do you think? Am chewing my fingernails and can't sleep and it's still a week away.
John Beattie co-presents Sport Nation every Saturday on BBC Radio Scotland at 0900 GMT, and co-presents Sport Nation on TV, on the first Tuesday of every month at 1900 GMT on BBC Two Scotland.