Entering Monday night’s wild card clash between the Cardinals and Rams, NFL rematches continue to go the way of sweeps instead of splits.
Back in 2002, the NFL added the Houston Texans and brought the number of teams in the league to 32. The NFL also realigned and formed eight divisions, with each housing four clubs. Every team would play six divisional games.
For the 20th consecutive season, there were a total of 48 regular-season divisional contests. More times than not, teams usually complete the two-game sweep of their rival. And in 2021, there were more sweeps (33) than any other year dating back to ’02.
What’s interesting is that beating a team twice in the same season has carried over into the playoffs and even when it doesn’t involve divisional rivals. Obviously, either the Buffalo Bills or New England Patriots were going to defeat the other twice.
And Sean McDermott’s club got the job done in resounding fashion on Saturday night at Orchard Park, 47-17. Monday night at Los Angeles, the Rams and Arizona Cardinals meet for the third time. Each club won in each other’s building this year.
But the Cincinnati Bengals not only defeated the Raiders at Las Vegas during the regular season (32-13 in Week 11), they held on for a 26-19 win on Saturday afternoon at the Queen City. Meanwhile, back on a Thursday night at Philadelphia (Week 6), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers held off the Eagles, 28-22.
And after rolling the Steelers in Week 16 at Arrowhead Stadium last month by a convincing 36-10 score, the Kansas City Chiefs once again came up with a convincing win over Mike Tomlin’s club, 42-21, on Sunday night.
Now it’s onto the divisional round and there could be three more rematches if the Rams knock off the Cardinals on Monday night. The Bills won at Kansas City this year and the Green Bay Packers knocked off the 49ers at San Francisco. And Sean McVay’s squad held off the Buccaneers.
Don’t want no rematch? Oh, well. There’s more ahead this Saturday and Sunday.