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Divisional Playoff Matchups Not Uncommon

Posted Jan 7, 2014

Sunday will mark the Broncos' fifth playoff matchup with a division opponent, but it's not an uncommon event in recent NFL history.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- On Sunday, the Broncos and Chargers will meet for the third time this season.

If it seems unique -- it is for Denver.

It's just the fifth time the Broncos have played an AFC West opponent in the postseason, and the first since Denver and Kansas City squared off in the Wild Card Round after the 1997 season.

"You get into the playoffs and they’re all difficult," Head Coach John Fox said. "That is why they have the playoffs. Regardless of whether it’s in your division, how many times you’ve played them, it’s a single-elimination tournament and whoever plays the best wins.”

But division teams matching up for a third time in the playoffs is more common across the league than some may realize.

In fact, it's happened at least once in all but two seasons since the NFL realigned its divisions in 2002.

Since that realignment, division opponents have met for a third time in the playoffs on 15 separate occasions.

Eight of those times came in the Wild Card Round, five in the Divisional Round -- including this year's San Diego-Denver tilt -- and twice in conference championship games.

Four times a team that went 2-0 against their divisional playoff opponent made it a three-game sweep in the postseason. Twice, an 0-2 regular-season record was negated by a win in the playoffs.

On the other eight previous occasions, the two teams split the regular-season series. When it came to the playoffs, the home team has won four times and the road team has won four times.

The Broncos and Chargers, who split their 2013 regular-season series, will break that tie on Sunday, one way or the other.

"It’s kind of that rubber match, so to speak. Third-time around, it’s win-or-go-home," wide receiver Eric Decker said. "So, for us, this is a good challenge and we’re excited about it."