Beating a team three times in one season is hard to do. Unless it isn’t.
One of the conventional wisdoms about the difficulty of dominating opponents you see on a regular basis doesn’t hold up to actual math, which is good news for people worried about the Saints after they swept the Panthers in the regular season and have to face them in the wild card round Sunday.
Via ESPN.com, since the 1970 merger, 20 teams have had to face a divisional opponent in the playoffs after beating them twice in the regular season. Thirteen of those teams won the third matchup (65 percent).
So while it might not necessarily mean anything to the Saints and the Panthers this year, perhaps it will at least kill a cliche.
The last team to lose in such a situation was the 2007 Cowboys, who beat the Giants twice in the regular season but lost in the divisional round, as the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl.