CHARLOTTE - As the NFL celebrates its 100th season, and the Panthers celebrate 25 seasons of football, the team's longest series hits a benchmark this week.
Carolina and New Orleans will square off for the 50th time on Sunday, marking the most contests against any one opponent in Panthers franchise history.
The Panthers and Saints have played each other twice a season, every season, since 1995. The teams even played three times in 2017 as they met in New Orleans in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, marking the first time since divisional realignment in 2002 that two NFC South teams ever met in the playoffs.
Remarkably, the all-time series is nearly even. Carolina leads 25-24. All-time points scored? Panthers 1082, Saints 1070.
A quick glance at the series results offers a pretty strong correlation between both teams highs and lows over the last 25 years.
The Panthers trail the all-time series against the Saints, 25-26. Carolina has played New Orleans more than any other team in its history.
Carolina won four of the first five games in 1995-97 as the team won the division in 1996. New Orleans then took eight of the next 10 contests as Carolina went six straight years without a winning season and the Saints had a division title.
The Panthers then won 11 of 15 matchups between the 2002 and 2009 seasons as Carolina had three playoff appearances and two trips to the NFC Championship in that time. The pendulum swung back to New Orleans with four straight wins under Drew Brees, followed by the Panthers success in the Cam Newton era. Between 2012-16, Carolina went 7-3 against New Orleans, winning three games in the Superdome, including the 2015 division clincher.
Recently, the series has swung back to New Orleans as they have won two consecutive NFC South titles and gone 4-1 against Carolina with the only loss in Week 17 last year when Brees didn't play.
Division rivalry games can be funky. Oftentimes the better team doesn't win as both teams know each other so well. For instance, in Carolina's six division title seasons, the Panthers have gone 7-5 against the Falcons, however, they were 10-2 against New Orleans in those same season.
There's something about New Orleans and Carolina that really serves as a litmus test for where each team is and where they are going.
And there have been some pretty dramatic and riveting game moments in the rivalry as well.
John Kasay hit game-winning field goals in 1996, 2003, 2007 and 2008. The 2003 game-winner set an NFL record for three consecutive road overtime wins, while the 2008 field goal clinched Carolina's NFC South title.
Domenik Hixon made the biggest play in his Panthers career with a diving, game-winning catch with 23 seconds remaining to beat New Orleans in 2013 in the pouring rain.
In 2014, a 41-10 blowout and "endzone dustup" on the road in the Superdome sparked a four-game winning streak to end the season which gave Carolina consecutive NFC South titles, the first consecutive winner in division history.
Josh Norman's diving interception with 1:17 left to preserve a 27-22 win at home in 2015, then Jerricho Cotchery's game-winning catch with just over a minute left in New Orleans just three months later.
In 2017, in one of the top 10 most watched TV events of the year, Carolina came to within inches of an upset comeback in the Wild Card playoff at New Orleans as Devin Funchess couldn't corral a Cam Newton pass in the end zone.
Carolina enters this 50th matchup having lost five of the last seven in the series. New Orleans has won two straight division titles and have a three-game lead on Carolina in this year's division race. But this series has swung unexpectedly in the past. Who's to say it's not about to swing again on Sunday?