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Divisional Playoff Rematches (Statistics)


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The other day I noticed that all four divisional playoff games this weekend are rematches from the regular season. I wondered how long it had been since the last time that happened -- last year. So that was a little underwhelming.

But that got me to thinking, and digging. I noticed that in all four games last year, the team who won in the regular season also win in the playoffs. All four of them.

So I went all the way back to the advent of the wild card game, which, not coincidentally, was also the first year of the 16-game regular season, 1978. And I uncovered a rather startling trend.

Since that season, there have been 49** instances of a divisional playoff game between two teams who had played at least once in the regular season.

First, the mundane trivia -- of those 49 games, ten were between division rivals, meaning there were two regular season meetings. Seven of those times, the teams split the two games, so those don't factor in. But in the three instance of a regular season sweep, the sweeping team won the third game as well. But you would figure that, right?

But this leaves 39 pure rematches. History shows that the team that won in the regular season also wins in the playoffs 79.5% of the time (31-8), and currently, the last eight teams to win the regular season matchup have won the playoff game as well. And more specifically, NFC teams in this situation are a staggering 17-1 with a 16-game winning streak. This bodes very well for our beloved Redskins.


** There were actually 51 instances, not 49; I didn't count the two instances from 1987 (strike season; there were none in 1982). These two games were both won by the team who lost in the regular season, making the unedited record 31-10, not 31-8. Both games were AFC matchups, meaning the 17-1 NFC mark is not affected.

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Stats are great for procrastination...

Before two wildcards, one divisional playoff each year featured two teams that got a bye. The team that had won the first game was 5-3. Lets throw those out, because as we know, the team with the bye wins about 80% of the time.

So, in games between wildcards and division winners who played once, the winner of the first game 26-5. Twice, the wild card lost earlier in the year but won in the playoffs (85 Pats vs. Raiders, 93 Chiefs vs. Oilers).

Three times the wild card won during the season then held serve.

Houston over NE 1978 both times in NE

Rams over NYG 1990 (blew them out in LA the season, won in OT in playoff)

1992 Bills over Pittsburgh twice (first at home by 8, second by 21--the week before was the Reich comeback)

Add it all up and Division Winners who beat their opponent during the season were 23-3 in the playoffs. (80% would be 21-5)

Wild cards (the Redskins situation this week) were thus 3-2 going on the road against the bye team whom they beat during the season. Which is pretty good. But too small a sample to be indicative of much.

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