When New Orleans and Tampa Bay face each other in the divisional round of the playoffs on Sunday, the Buccaneers will be hoping that the third time is the charm for them and that's because the first two meetings between these two teams ended in blowout wins for the Saints.
The first win for New Orleans came back in Week 1 when they topped the Buccaneers 34-23 and then the Saints followed that up with a 38-3 win in Week 9 (We're counting the first win as a blowout because it was 34-17 late in the game until the Buccaneers scored a garbage-time touchdown).
After sweeping the regular season series, the Saints will now be going for a three-game sweep and despite what you might have heard, beating a team three times in one season isn't as difficult as it sounds. As a matter of fact, the team going for the sweep has won more than 66% of the time since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
Over the past 50 years, there have been a total of 21 games in the playoffs where a team was going for a three-game sweep and in those instances, the team going for the sweep has gone 14-7. Advantage Saints.
Of those 21 games, the team going for the sweep has played at home a total of 17 times and in those instances, the team going for the sweep has gone 12-5. Advantage Saints.
Of thee 14 teams that pulled off a sweep, six of them went on to play in the Super Bowl.
Over the past 25 years, a total of 12 teams have gone for the three-game sweep and they've gone 9-3 in those games. The last team to pull off a sweep was actually the Saints and they did that back in 2017 when they beat the Panthers three times. In that case, although the Saints won the first two games handily, they only won the playoff game 31-26.
The last time a team avoided a sweep came in 2007 and the Buccaneers would probably very much like to emulate that situation. Thirteen years ago, the Cowboys swept the Giants during the regular season, but then lost to them in the playoffs. Not only did the Giants avoid the sweep, but they went on to win the Super Bowl.
If the Saints pull off the sweep, they'll become the first team to ever beat Tom Brady three times in one season. Of course, one thing working in their favor is that they already hold the distinction of being the first divisional rival to ever sweep Brady, so they probably won't be too worried about the fact that no one has ever beaten him three times.
Here's a look at the 21 times in NFL history where a team has gone for a playoff sweep:
|Year||2-0 team||0-2 team||Playoff result|
Dolphins win 14-0
Raiders win 30-14
Giants win 17-0
Steelers win 26-23
Chiefs win 10-6
Chargers won 17-0
Raiders win 42-24
Bears win 35-18
Steelers win 29-9
Patriots win 17-3
Packers win 21-7
Cardinals win 20-7
Titans win 33-14
Giants win 20-10
Steelers win 36-33
Rams win 27-20
Vikings win 31-17
Giants win 21-17
Steelers win 23-14
Cowboys win 34-14
Saints win 31-26