And as you've likely heard all week, Rodgers' outstanding play is what makes the Packers the Vegas favorite to win the Super Bowl. It's easy to get fixated on Rodgers' outstanding game and conclude that he's just as likely to carve up the Bears, but looking at recent playoff history tells a different story.
In looking back over the past 10 years, 13 quarterbacks have posted a 130-plus quarterback rating with 20 or more attempts in a playoff game. The names are just as illustrious as you would expect: Peyton Manning (three times), Kurt Warner (twice), Tom Brady (twice) and Brett Favre (twice) are the only quarterbacks to post more than one 130-plus playoff game over the past decade.
As you would expect, those teams were 13-0 in those games -- it's hard to lose if your quarterback is nearly flawless. But the hot hand didn't usually carry over until the next week. Those same quarterbacks went 3-9 the following week. And in many cases, it was their poor play that was at least in part to blame.
You can blame it somewhat on regression to the mean (quarterbacks aren't going to put up back-to-back 130-plus QB ratings), but putting together a dominating game seems to be a hard act to follow. Over those 12 follow-up games, the same quarterbacks averaged a 75.16 quarterback rating, with more interceptions (18) than touchdowns (17). Over those 12 games, only three times did the quarterback put together another 100-plus quarterback rating. In comparison, there were six games with a rating of 70 or below.
Obviously a 12-game sample isn't overwhelming evidence, but it's worth noting that Manning followed up his five-touchdown, 377-yard, perfect 158.3 quarterback rating against the Broncos in 2005 by throwing for 238 yards, no touchdowns and an interception in a 20-3 loss to the Patriots the next week. Warner's five-touchdown, 381-yard game against the Packers in 2009 was exceptional, but the next week he threw for only 205 yards, no touchdowns and an interception in a 45-14 loss to the Saints.
This doesn't mean that Rodgers is going to be a disaster this week, but it is a pretty good reminder that cutting up the Falcons secondary means very little this week.
Here's a look at all of the follow-up games. Thanks to Pro Football Reference's Play Index for the stat sorting.
|Peyton Manning||2005-01-16||NE||L 3-20||27||42||64.3%||238||0||1||69.3||5.67|
|Kurt Warner||2010-01-16||NO||L 14-45||17||26||65.4%||205||0||1||73.4||7.88|
|Peyton Manning||2004-01-11||KC||W 38-31||22||30||73.3%||304||3||0||138.7||10.13|
|Kurt Warner||2009-02-01||PIT||L 23-27||31||43||72.1%||377||3||1||112.3||8.77|
|Chad Pennington||2003-01-12||OAK||L 10-30||21||47||44.7%||183||1||2||44.9||3.89|
|Tom Brady||2008-01-20||SD||W 21-12||22||33||66.7%||209||2||3||66.4||6.33|
|Peyton Manning||2004-01-18||NE||L 14-24||23||47||48.9%||237||1||4||35.5||5.04|
|Brett Favre||2008-01-20||NYG||L 20-23||19||35||54.3%||236||2||2||70.7||6.74|
|Daunte Culpepper||2005-01-16||PHI||L 14-27||24||46||52.2%||316||1||2||63.3||6.87|
|Rich Gannon||2002-01-19||NE||L 13-16||17||31||54.8%||159||1||0||79.9||5.13|
|Brett Favre||2010-01-24||NO||L 28-31||28||46||60.9%||310||1||2||70||6.74|
|Tom Brady||2005-02-06||PHI||W 24-21||23||33||69.7%||236||2||0||110.2||7.15|