Since the NFL moved to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, No. 1 seeds are 30-12 in the Divisional Playoffs round. No. 1 seeds in the NFC are a sterling 18-3, though those three losses have come in the last four post-seasons. No. 1 seeds in the AFC have had a rougher time of advancing to the AFC Championship Game, winning 12 of the 21 games, including four of the last six games.
The New England Patriots, this year's No. 1 seed in the AFC, are 2-1 as the top seed, defeating the Tennessee Titans in 2003 and Jacksonville Jaguars in 2007. The Patriots lost to the New York Jets last January, which in addition to a first-round bouncing at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens in 2009, is leading some to question whether or not the Patriots have lost their playoff aura.
In addition to helping the Patriots get their playoff mojo back on Saturday night, quarterback Tom Brady can move a few spots up on several NFL playoff passing lists. With 104 passing yards against the Denver Broncos, Brady would have 4,511 playoff passing yards in his career, which would supplant Hall of Famer Dan Marino for fifth place on the NFL's all-time postseason passing yardage list. Brady has 30 postseason touchdown passes in his career. With a touchdown pass on Saturday, he'll extend his consecutive postseason games with a touchdown pass to 18, second-longest in league history (Brett Favre, 20) and is three touchdowns away from jumping ahead of Kurt Warner and Marino for third place on the postseason passing touchdown list, which would put him behind only Joe Montana (45) and Favre (44).
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith will make his playoff debut on Saturday. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft hasn't been asked to produce at the prolific levels of a Brady, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers or New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, but David Fucillo of Niners Nation wonders if 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman has a little something up his sleeve for the Saints.
Few can compete in an arms race with Brees, who could become the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 400 or more yards in three postseason games. With his 466 yards in last Saturday night's win over the Detroit Lions, Brees became the first NFL quarterback to throw for 400 yards in consecutive playoff games.
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