Path to the NLDS: Atlanta (101-61) won the NL East by nine games; Houston (84-78) won the NL Central by five games.
Bobby Cox's Braves had just won their sixth of a record 14 consecutive division titles (excluding the labor-stopped 1994 season), and at 17 wins better than Houston during the regular season, were overwhelming favorites in this best-of-five series.
The Astros were back in the postseason for the first time since the 1986 NLCS against the Mets. Leading this up-and-coming club was the potent combination of infielders Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, who would finish 3-4, respectively, in the NL MVP voting. Unfortunately for the Astros, they each went 1-for-12 in this series.
Three names said it all for the Braves: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. The golfing buddies and future Hall of Famers were the winning pitchers in succession during the sweep. The powerhouse Braves had an NLCS date with the Wild Card Marlins, and the Astros were out, but they made the first of the club's three straight postseason appearances and generated buzz in Houston.