I’m betting that if you have watched any sports news this week previewing the upcoming game between the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you have heard the common refrain of how tough it is to beat the same team three times in the same season.
That is what the Saints will be attempting to do this Sunday when they close out the Divisional Playoff weekend while hosting the Buccaneers. New Orleans Quarterback Drew Brees has guided his Saints to a pair of regular season wins over Tom Brady and his Bucs. New Orleans won on opening day in the Superdome, 34-23, and drilled the Bucs in a mid-season game at Raymond James Stadium, 38-3.
With those two wins in the bank, the talk is how difficult it will be for the Saints to pin a third loss on Tampa Bay this weekend.
Well, let’s put that theory to the test against facts. First, since the National and American football leagues merged into the American and National football conferences of the NFL in 1970, 69 times teams that met twice during the regular season faced off for a third game in the playoffs. Only 20 times did one of the playoff teams sweep their opponent in the regular season. Of those 20 teams that carried a two game season winning streak into the playoffs, 14 of them went on to win a third straight game. Seems beating a team in the playoffs that won twice in the regular season is a lot tougher task than it is for a team to complete a three game sweep.
History shows that 70% of the teams that win both regular season games go on to win in the playoffs, while a team looking to sweep the two game regular season series against a playoff bound opponent only gets that done 29% of the time.
In other words, it is tough to sweep a quality division opponent in the regular season, but once that is accomplished, completing the three game sweep is a solid percentage proposition.
Once you take away the wrong idea of it being difficult to beat a team for a third time in the same season, this game becomes much easier to bring into focus.
What we have here is a matchup between two of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. You couldn’t pit two men against each other that combine for more touchdowns and more passing yards than Brees and Brady. Brees ranks first in passing yards with 80,358, Brady is second with 79,204. Brady has the most passing touchdowns, 581, and Brees ranks second on the all-time list with 571 scoring tosses.
In the matter of the all important stat of wins, Brady is number one in both total, 230, and Super Bowl victories, with a half dozen. Brees ranks fourth on the all-time list with 172 wins and has one Super Bowl triumph.
Does any of that point to who is going to win this Sunday in the Big Easy?
It only illustrates that either quarterback could win, what tips the scale more towards the home team is their ability to beat the Buccaneers twice in the regular season and being at home with the better defense. Brady comes in with more career wins, but Brees is poised to close the gap.
Qoxhi Picks: New Orleans Saints (-3) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers