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As NFL matchups go, this one is a classic: unstoppable offense against impenetrable defense.
The second round of the playoffs begins Saturday in San Francisco, where one of the league’s top defenses — the 49ers yielded 229 points and ranked fourth overall in yards allowed, first against the run — takes on Drew Brees and the Saints’ record-setting attack.
If defense wins championships, as has been the theory in pro football for decades, the edge clearly belongs to the 49ers. Then again, the NFL hasn’t seen an offense as prolific as the Saints.
“They’ve been very consistent all year,” Saints coach Sean Payton said of the NFC West champion Niners (13-3). “The formula has been outstanding defense. ... They’re the No. 1 team in taking the football away and they’re the No. 1 team in protecting the football offensively. Those are significant numbers.
“I think you can see week to week on tape their production on both sides of the ball. You’re talking about a Pro Bowl punter and a kicking game that’s near the top of the league in almost every statistic. In all three phases, they’ve been consistent. They’ve received great production and as a result they’ve played very well.”
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