Classic playoff matchup: Saints vs. 49ers

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Baltimore is getting ready for its first playoff home game under coach John Harbaugh, Jim’s brother. The Ravens have made the playoffs in all four seasons under Harbaugh, but as wild cards.

They won their eight home games in 2011, including beating the Texans 29-14 in October.

“We did what we had to do to get that first-week bye,” defensive end Cory Redding said. “We came out of the back stretch 3-1, and that was our main focus. Guys are fighting on the field with big gashes down their legs and almost bruised ribs, messed up knees and toes and ankles and hands, and yet we still fought our way.

“That was the biggest thing. We got that accomplished. We got control in the AFC North accomplished, and now it’s time to rest, recover and get ready for the second season and winning Game 1. That was the mindset for the guys. It was a big accomplishment.”

Like the Texans, the Giants are trying to accomplish a difficult feat: winning at Lambeau Field, where the Packers were 8-0, and defeating a team that beat them in early December in the Meadowlands.

New York is banking on a revived defense, especially the pass rush, and an invigorated running game.

“Persistence … and the ability to ride the ups and the downs and stay together,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin credited for his team’s recent surge. “The development of the feeling of `team.’ The confidence that grows from a little bit of success. The ability to put some of the pieces to the puzzle together that haven’t been there, that weren’t there, that do breed the confidence.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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