FOXBORO (CBS) — The Patriots and the Bills are set to meet for the third time this season on Saturday night when the two teams do battle on Super Wild Card Weekend. If their first two meetings in 2021 were any indication of how this weekend will go, we’re all in for a thrilling and entertaining rubber match.

The Patriots won in a windy Buffalo in Week 13, while the Bills exacted some revenge at Gillette Stadium in Week 16 to essentially seal the AFC East title. New England dominated Buffalo for two decades when the Patriots were led by the Brady-Belichick two-headed monster, but the tides have turned the last two years with the Bills taking three of the last four meetings.

These two are obviously very familiar with each other, and Round 3 has all the makings to be an epic postseason showdown.

How have the Patriots fared when facing an opponent three times during a season? They’ve faced the Jets three times in a season twice under Belichick, and another New York teams three times* in a season twice as well. This is also the second time that the Patriots and the Bills will square off three times in a given season in their long history against each other, with a few other instances sprinkled in since the team’s inception in 1960.

Here’s how it went for New England (or in one case, Boston) the other times the Patriots squared off against the same opponent three times in one season.

Three Vs. New York Jets In 2006

Kevin Faulk scores a fourth-quarter touchdown against the New York Jets during the AFC Wild Card Round at Gillette Stadium on January 7, 2007. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

We’ll start with the good times — err, better times — because in 2006 the Patriots beat the Jets two of the three times that they faced them. It was Eric Mangini’s first season out of the comfort of Belichick’s nest, and the mentor gave his former mentee an unceremonious welcome to the life of a head coach in Week 2.

Chad Jackson caught a touchdown for New England, and the Patriots held off a Jets comeback in New Jersey for a 24-17 win. Tedy Bruschi picked off Chad Pennington with 15 seconds left to seal the win for the Patriots.

The Jets got revenge in Week 10 though, handing the Patriots a 17-13 loss at Gillette. Pennington hit Jericho Cotchery for a 15-yard touchdown with 4:45 left to put New York on top 17-6, and while Brady hit Reche Caldwell for a score just 30 seconds later, New England’s comeback bid ended on the New York 45-yard line when Brady was strip-sacked by Shaun Ellis in the game’s final seconds.

The loss dropped the Patriots to 6-3, but they’d go on to win six of their last seven to finish the season 12-4 and the AFC’s four-seed. The Jets finished 10-6 and in the five-seed, setting up a third matchup in the Wild Card round.

It was close up until the fourth quarter, but the Patriots turned it into a laugher over the final five minutes and won 37-16. After the Jets kicked a field goal to make it 23-16 early in the fourth, the Patriots went on a 13-play, 63-yard touchdown drive that ended with a Brady-to-Kevin Faulk touchdown. The drive took 6:23 off the clock and put the Patriots up 30-16. Asante Samuel pick-sixed Pennington two plays later to put the game out of reach.

Brady had two touchdown passes and Jabar Gaffney had eight catches for 104 yards, while Corey Dillon, Laurence Maroney and Faulk rushed for a combined 145 yards in the win. In the world of fun facts, it was the last game played on natural grass at Gillette Stadium.

New England beat the Chargers in San Diego the following weekend in the Divisional Round, but lost the AFC Championship Game in Indianapolis.

Three Vs. New York Jets In 2010

Jets head coach Rex Ryan and quarterback Mark Sanchez celebrate their Divisional Round victory against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

The Patriots and the Jets met three times again in the 2010 season, and it did not go New England’s way. Rex Ryan was in his second season with the Jets and feeling pretty good after taking the team to the AFC Championship Game in his first year. After losing to the Ravens in Week 1, the Jets bounced back with a 28-14 home win over the Patriots in Week 2. The Patriots were shut out in the second half, as Tom Brady was picked off twice and fumbled over the final 30 minutes of the game.

Week 2 wasn’t pretty for the Patriots, but they got some revenge by demolishing the Jets 45-3 on Monday Night Football in Week 13. Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes while Mark Sanchez was picked off by the New England defense on three consecutive drives in the second half. The victory was part of an eight-game winning streak by the Patriots to close the regular season.

Because of that game, not many gave the Jets a shot when they came to New England for a Divisional Round matchup a month later. The Patriots were feeling pretty good about themselves, with Wes Welker poking fun at Ryan and his love of tootsies with a press conference littered with foot jokes leading up to the game. That earned Welker a spot on the bench to start the game, and it just unraveled from there.

The Jets stunned the Patriots with a 28-21 defeat on their home turf. Sanchez threw for three touchdowns while Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson combined for 119 rushing yards. Brady was picked off to end New England’s first possession and was sacked five times. The Pats went for an onside kick after cutting it to 21-14 with under two minutes left, but the Antonio Cromartie scooped it up and returned it to the New England 20 and Greene scored a touchdown to put the game out of reach. The Patriots scored a touchdown on their final possession, but it was too little, too late. It was New England’s only home loss of the season.

As a side note, Nick Folk was kicking for the Jets that season.

“Three” Against The Giants In 2007 & 2011

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots reacts after losing to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Ok, things are going to get a little silly here, hence the * a little earlier. Yes, we know that preseason games don’t count. That point is especially true for the final preseason game. But the Patriots technically met the New York Giants three times in both 2007 and 2011 thanks to preseason, regular season and Super Bowl matchups.

We all know how 2007 went. No need to revisit all of that. The Patriots actually lost all three of their matchups with the Giants during the 2011 season, first in the preseason finale, again in Week 9 in Foxboro, and then in Super Bowl XLVI. The Patriots had won 10 straight heading into the big game, but fell to Eli Manning and company, 21-17.

Moral of the story: Don’t play the Giants three times in a season. Luckily, it doesn’t seem like Joe Judge will be leading the G-Men to the Super Bowl anytime soon.

Pre-Belichick Times

The New England Patriots huddle up just before kickoff of the team’s 17-3 victory over the Miami Dolphins in the 1997 AFC Wild Card Playoff Game on December 28, 1997 at Foxboro Stadium. (Photo by Allen Kee/Getty Images)

In Peter Carroll’s first season on the New England sidelines in 1997, he guided the Patriots to a 10-6 regular season record and a Wild Card round victory. In the process, the Patriots beat the Miami Dolphins three times, including a 17-3 win on Wild Card weekend in Foxboro. New England held Dan Marino to just 141 passing yards in that playoff matchup, sacking the quarterback four times and picking him off twice.

In 1985, the Patriots faced both the Jets and the Dolphins three times. After splitting their regular season matchups, the Patriots notched playoff wins over both — the Jets in the Wild Card round and the Dolphins in the AFC Championship — en route to Super Bowl XX.

In 1963, the first generation of Patriots fans were treated to three Patriots-Bills matchups. The two teams split in the regular season, with each winning on their home field (the Patriots were playing home games at Fenway Park at this point) before the Patriots handed the Bills a 28-6 loss in the AFL Divisional playoff in Buffalo. Larry Garron caught two touchdown for the Boston Patriots that day, while Gino Cappelletti booted four field goals in the win.

If you’re hoping for some grand conclusion about how things go when the Patriots meet a team three times in the same season, you’re about to be disappointed. What happened 10-15 years ago — or say, 60 years ago — won’t matter one iota come Saturday night in Buffalo. The Pats lost the AFL Championship to the Chargers the following weekend, and didn’t return to the playoffs again until 1976.

All that matters is that this current Patriots team goes out and has their best game of the season when they make their second trip of the season to Buffalo.

Tune in to Saturday’s Patriots-Bills playoff matchup on WBZ-TV, with kickoff is set for 8:15pm!

CBSBoston.com Staff