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Saints, Ravens put it on the line

Sun., Dec. 19, 2010, midnight

BALTIMORE – While savoring their stature as defending Super Bowl champions, the New Orleans Saints have assumed a more pressing role: just another team trying to enhance its position in the playoff race.

The Saints face the Baltimore Ravens today in a duel between second-place teams in their respective divisions. It’s the second of four important games for New Orleans, a stretch that began with last week’s 31-13 rout of the St. Louis Rams.

“We looked at the last quarter of the schedule … and the one thing we talked about was that all four of those opponents are in serious playoff contention and are all vying for those spots,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “And so, I think at that point, it’s more about the now, the current season. St. Louis is trying to win the NFC West and Baltimore, just like us, (is) trying to put themselves in the best possible situation for a postseason berth.”

New Orleans (10-3) needs a win to keep in step with first-place Atlanta (11-2) in the NFL South. The Saints’ final two games are against the Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who entered the weekend in the third place in the division at 8-5.

Baltimore (9-4) trails Pittsburgh by one game in the AFC North.

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