Has anybody been a great playoff quarterback since Bart Starr? The Packers won his last nine playoff starts. In the last five, they averaged 30.2 points and Starr had a 116.5 passer rating. Joe Montana was also great, but the 49ers’ defense allowed 17 points or fewer in 12 of his last 14 playoff starts in San Francisco.

Has anybody been a great playoff quarterback since Bart Starr? The Packers won his last nine playoff starts. In the last five, they averaged 30.2 points and Starr had a 116.5 passer rating. Joe Montana was also great, but the 49ers’ defense allowed 17 points or fewer in 12 of his last 14 playoff starts in San Francisco.


Tom Brady is in his fifth Super Bowl, but his career playoff DYAR (defense-adjusted yards above average) of 81 per game lags way behind Drew Brees (148), Kurt Warner (124), Peyton Manning (122) and Aaron Rodgers (119). Manning is also only 9-10 lifetime in the playoffs. Warner and Rodgers haven’t come from behind well. And Peyton’s brother, the so-called “elite” Eli Manning (71 DYAR), is even behind Matt Hasselbeck, according to footballoutsiders.com. Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan have negative win-probability added scores every playoff season, according to advancednflstats.com.


This matters because the best quarterbacks now look unstoppable in the regular season, but are harder to predict that ever in the playoffs. You can’t count on either Tom Brady or Eli Manning to live up to their reputation in next week’s Super Bowl. But whoever comes closest will win.


Running when it counts most


The Giants, Colts and Cardinals all reached the Super Bowl since 2007 despite finishing last in rushing, but could run when it counts. The Bears can’t. Chicago had its best rushing season in 20 years, but finished in the bottom 12 in rushing TDs and fumbles lost. The Giants were sixth in rushing TDs and tied for third in fewest fumbles. The Colts and Cardinals also did well in those stats.


Not all titles feel equal


The NFL playoffs have suddenly become as unpredictable as the baseball playoffs. That’s a little sad. It would be more fun for the 16-0 Patriots to win than the Tuck Rule Patriots or this year’s 15-1 Packers rather than last year’s 10-6 Packers. The Giants won as a wild card in 2007, lost its first game as a No. 1 seed in 2008 and can now win again with the worst-record ever for a champion.


Any Era stars


Ray Lewis, Charles Woodson and Brian Urlacher were great picks in the top five for ESPN’s Any Era NFL team, which also rewarded excellence that doesn’t necessarily look old school with No. 9 Aaron Rodgers and No. 11 Tom Brady. But Tim Tebow at No. 19 is a joke. Any era should include his own era. And Ben Roethlisberger at No. 3 confuses toughness with all-time greatness.


Contact Matt Trowbridge at 8115-987-1383 or mtrowbridge@rrstar.com.