Saints-Eagles By the Numbers: History of 1-6 matchups in playoffs

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Drew Brees, Keith Kirkwood
(Photo: Parker Waters)

The Philadelphia Eagles’ dramatic victory over the Chicago Bears last Sunday, which set the stage for this weekend’s matchup with the Saints in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, marked the 24th time in 58 tries a No. 6 seed has gone on the road and prevailed over a No. 3 seed.

By virtue of the NFL’s floating bracket system, if the No. 6 seed – the lowest in the conference – wins its opening game, it goes on to meet the top seed in the Divisional round, as will be the case twice this weekend. Indianapolis travels to Kansas City on Saturday before the Eagles-Saints matchup closes out Divisional weekend on Sunday.

While top seeds have gone just 5-3 against sixth seeds in the AFC, the NFC has been much more in favor of the No. 1 seed, which has won 12 of 14 previous meetings.

The two NFC teams to win were Philadelphia in 2008 (a 23-11 triumph over the top-seeded New York Giants) and Green Bay in 2010 (a 48-21 victory over the Atlanta Falcons).

In the AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005 (21-18 over the Indianapolis Colts), Baltimore Ravens in 2008 (13-10 over the Tennessee Titans) and New York Jets in 2010 (28-21 over the New England Patriots) all knocked off No. 1 seeds to reach the conference championship game as No. 6 seeds.

Of those five teams, the only No. 6 seeds to win the Super Bowl were the Steelers and Packers.

Since 2010, top seeds are 6-0 in Divisional round games against No. 6 seeds.

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Blowout, Then A Rematch: The Saints’ 48-7 victory over the Eagles in Week 11 provides the first playoff rematch for a regular-season meeting with a point margin of at least 30 points since 2015.

That season, Arizona defeated Green Bay 38-8 in Week 16, then escaped with a 26-20 overtime victory over the Packers in the Divisional round three weeks later, both at home.

Also in 2015, Seattle routed Minnesota 38-7 in Week 13, then returned to the Twin Cities five weeks later but had to eke out a 10-9 win over the Vikings.

The last time a team suffered a loss of 30 points or more to a team in the regular season and avenged the loss in the playoffs – the 2010 Jets, who were beaten 45-3 by the Patriots in Week 13 of that season but returned to Foxboro six weeks later to stun the Patriots 28-21 in one of the aforementioned 6-over-1 Divisional playoff wins.

Including the AFL, teams losing by 30 or more in the regular season have gone 6-12 in playoff rematches.

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What Makes a Champion? Since the Saints won the Super Bowl in February 2010, a dig into the regular-season statistics of Super Bowl winners shows teams who do a lot of things well.

But if you want to simplify it, you’d better be a top-five offense or a top-five defense, or better yet, both.

The 2017 Eagles ranked third in the NFL in scoring offense and fourth in scoring defense. The 2016 Patriots were third in scoring offense and led the league in scoring defense.

Including the Saints’ 2009 team, seven of the last nine champions – and each of the last five – have ranked in the top five in either scoring offense or scoring defense. Only the 2011 New York Giants and 2012 Baltimore Ravens didn’t get to the top five.

Interestingly, the eight remaining teams in the NFL’s tournament include each of the top five teams in the league in scoring – in order, the Chiefs, Rams, Saints, Patriots and Colts. None of the top five teams in scoring defense are among the final eight, with the Cowboys – at No. 6 – as the highest ranked remaining scoring defense.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny has been involved in college athletics since the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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