The Myth of Not Being Able to Beat a Team Three Times in One Season

This weekend we get two of the final three football games of the year in the NFC and AFC Championship match-ups. Although both look like good games, hardcore fans should be praying to the football gods for a Steelers-Eagles Super Bowl. A Ravens-Cardinals game would be like pitting the Devil Rays and the Phillies in the World Series. The watchability factor might be worse than hitting the Glitter Gulch on Fremont Street on a Monday morning.

But prior to almost being robbed at gunpoint, former Cowboy receiver Michael Irvin noted on ESPN that “it’s hard to beat a team 3 times in one season” in reference to the Steelers and Ravens meeting for the third time this season, with the Steelers winning the previous two.

Apparently it’s easier to go 3-0 than getting arrested in a hotel room with an 8-ball of crack and two hookers. According to NFL Fanhouse, there have been 18 instances in the NFL where two teams met in the playoffs, after one team won both regular season meetings. The team with the 2-0 advantage won 11 of the 18 re-matches in the playoffs, a 61% winning percentage (not against the spread.)

Of those 18 playoff re-matches, the Steelers were involved in three of them, in 1989, 1994, and 2002. In both 1994 and 2002, the Steelers were 2-0 against the Browns and won the playoff game. In 1989 they were 0-2 against the Oilers and also won the playoff game.

For my gambling dollars, I’ll take the Steelers and the moneyline in this one and hope the same Cardinals team that showed up for a 47-7 thrashing in New England shows up this weekend against the Eagles.


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