All eyes are on quarterbacks

If you want to win a championship you better have a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback, a truism that will be underlined in red this weekend with four tantalizing divisional playoff matchups.

From the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, to the rarified air of the Mile High City, where the Denver Broncos play, eight teams will take to the gridiron and five will be led by Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks.

Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay), Peyton Manning (Denver), Tom Brady (New England Patriots), Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens) and Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) have already hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.

Manning, Brady, Rodgers and Flacco have also won Super Bowl most valuable player awards and two of them will go head-to-head on Saturday when the Patriots host the Ravens with a berth in the AFC championship on the line.

Brady has steered the Patriots to five Super Bowl berths and three titles since 2002 and a record 18 postseason wins.


But while the Patriots have lost just once at home the last two seasons, a trip to New England will not rattle a Baltimore team that have taken two-of-three playoff meetings in Foxborough and have a quarterback who has a record seven playoff road wins.

The Denver Broncos will also enjoy a considerable home field advantage in the other AFC matchup having gone 17-of-18 on their turf the last two seasons, including 8-0 this campaign.

Certainly fans can expect plenty of offensive fireworks in the Mile High City with both Andrew Luck and Manning, the future Hall of Famer the former replaced in Indianapolis, throwing for close to 5,000 yards this season.

Manning, a five-time league MVP, won nine playoff games with the Colts, including a Super Bowl title eight years ago, and his 6,589 postseason passing yards is tops in the NFL.

"It's not the quarterback-versus-quarterback thing," said Luck, who led the NFL in touchdown passes with 40 this season. "We're not on the field at the same time. I have a lot of respect for him, what he does, what he still does is amazing."

Rodgers won't be 100 percent

In NFC action, the Dallas Cowboys make their first playoff visit to frigid Green Bay since the 1967 NFL championship game that is known as the "Ice Bowl."

Dallas are the NFL's ultimate road warriors, having gone a perfect 8-0 away from their home field this season but Green Bay is unbeaten at Lambeau Field and has outscored foes 318-163.


The game features two QBs in the MVP conversation with Tony Romo eager to prove he can deliver a Super Bowl to Dallas while Rodgers has been near perfect at home tossing 477 `consecutive pass attempts and 38 touchdown passes without an interception.

Rodgers was not at Packers practice again on Thursday, during the portion open to reporters. He later practiced in team periods and took 50-60 percent of the snaps. But one report Thursday indicates the calf injury may be worse than originally thought.

Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported Thursday that Rodgers' calf muscle "has a slight tear in it in addition to be significantly strained." One doctor familiar with the injury said in the report, "There's no question he will play, but there's also no question he will not be 100 percent. The question is whether he'll be 95 percent or 50 percent."

What To Read Next
Get Local