Drew Brees, the Saints, and Playing the Bucs Three Times

The Saints and Bucs meet for a third time in the NFL season, with it being the first time they square up in the postseason.
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It wasn't perfect, but the Saints passed their first postseason exam after knocking off the Bears 21-9 on Sunday. New Orleans was powered by a strong defensive effort, and the offense started hot and then overcame some struggles to find its groove to improve to 4-2 in the Wild Card Round under Sean Payton.

Now comes the Divisional Round, where they're 3-3 under Payton. The Saints are 3-0 at home under him, but those road losses are the ones that incite all the feelings. Naturally, this matchup against the Bucs will get magnified even more since it's Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees, and then there's a lazy narrative about how hard it is for a team to beat the same one three times in a season.  

Divisional Round History: Sean Payton Era

  • 1/13/19 - Saints 20, Eagles 14
  • 1/14/18 - Vikings 29, Saints 24
  • 1/11/14 - Seahawks 23, Saints 15
  • 1/14/12 - 49ers 36, Saints 32
  • 1/16/10 - Saints 45, Cardinals 14
  • 1/13/07 - Saints 27, Eagles 24

So, what about those matchups? 

"There's a little bit more familiarity with personnel and some of the nuances," said Sean Payton during his Thursday morning press conference when discussing the game with the Bucs.

"But you read, oh it's hard to beat a team for the third time, whatever. And I think statistically speaking, it is in the 60 some percentile that you do (win the third) or you do not? I think that is a little bit of a mess. If you really do the math."

The math checks out.

21 times it's happened since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, and teams that have swept opponents during the regular season have gone 14-7 in their third meeting. That's 67 percent of the time that said team has won when facing the odds. Furthermore, the sweeping team is 6-2 since 2000. Overall, the home team is 12-5 in those situations. This is what it's looked like over the decades.

Teams Facing Each Other Three Times in Postseason

YearSeason SweeperOpponentResult

2017

Saints

Panthers

Win

2009

Cowboys

Eagles

Win

2008

Steelers

Ravens

Win

2007

Cowboys

Giants

Loss

2004

Packers

Vikings

Loss

2004

Rams

Seahawks

Win

2002

Steelers

Browns

Win

2000

Giants

Eagles

Win

1999

Titans

Jaguars

Win

1998

Cowboys

Cardinals

Loss

1997

Packers

Bucs

Win

1997

Patriots

Dolphins

Win

1994

Steelers

Browns

Win

1994

Vikings

Bears

Loss

1993

Raiders

Broncos

Win

1992

Chiefs

Chargers

Loss

1991

Chiefs

Raiders

Win

1989

Oilers

Steelers

Loss

1986

Giants

Redskins

Win

1983

Seahawks

Raiders

Loss

1982

Dolphins

Jets

Win

No one is saying or suggesting that the Buccaneers are a team to sleep on or that they can't walk into the Superdome and upset the Saints, but it's certainly difficult on both sides of the ball to earn a victory here. In the same breath, much is made of Tom Brady in the postseason, but one should not overlook Drew Brees, especially in the Divisional Round.

Brees is obviously .500 in the Divisional Round with the Saints, but has had some outstanding performances leading the offense. Overall, he's 160-of-248 for 1,856 yards (64.5 completion percentage), tossing 14 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He's been sacked 11 times, with the lone time it not happening against the Cardinals during the 2009 Super Bowl run.

Drew Brees Divisional Game Playoff Log

OppAttCompYardsComp %TDINTSack

PHI

28

38

301

73.7%

2

1

2

@MIN

25

40

294

62.5%

3

2

2

@PHI

24

43

309

55.8%

1

0

1

@SF

40

63

462

63.5%

4

2

3

ARI

23

32

247

71.9%

3

0

0

PHI

20

32

243

62.5%

1

0

3

No. 9 will certainly have his work cut out for him, as he faces off against the Bucs for the 31st time in his illustrious NFL career. He's 20-10 against Tampa Bay, with one of those wins coming in 2004 when he was with the Chargers. Brees enters Sunday having two previously strong outings against the Bucs, totaling 44-of-62 (71 percent completion percentage) for 382 yards and 6 touchdowns. He was sacked twice and has two picks, but did turn the ball over in the prime time beatdown from Week 9.

It goes without saying that Brees is key to helping the Saints keep going on their quest for a shot at the Lombardi Trophy. At the end of it all, many don't want to see Brees go out without at least getting a chance. As long as the defense continues to play at a high level and New Orleans solves for some offensive situations, that could very well put them one step closer to their ultimate goal they've been chasing for years.