Giants vs. 49ers in NFC Championship: Déja vu all over again?

What does NFL playoff history tell us about the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers? The Giants and 49ers have met in the NFL playoffs seven times in the last 30 years.

Paul Sakuma/AP/File
A 1991 file photo shows New York Giants quarterback Jeff Hostetler holding the ball as Matt Bahr kicks the game-winning field goal in the final seconds of the NFC championship game with San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The two teams will meet again Sunday Jan. 22, to vie for the NFC championship.

There are some New York baseball fans still upset with the Stoneham family for moving their Giants team west to San Francisco after the 1957 season. But that only has only added to the passion of the New York football Giants fans over the years when they've met with their brethren in San Francisco during the NFC playoffs several times in the past three decades.

The New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers first met in the post-season at the end of the 1981 NFL season. San Francisco, behind quarterback Joe Montana, prevailed and went on to win the franchise's first Super Bowl over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The two teams met three more times in playoff games during the 1980s, playing in consecutive seasons from 1984 to 1986. In that last year, the Giants won  their first Super Bowl over the Denver Broncos.

Then, at the end of the 1990 season, the Giants and 49ers faced off for the first time in the NFC championship game in San Francisco. In a tough defensive struggle, the Giants prevailed behind five Matt Bahr field goals, 15-13.

New York went on to win its second Super Bowl title, beating the Bills when Buffalo kicker Scott Norwood missed a late field goal attempt.

The Giants and 49ers met twice more in the playoffs in subsequent years. San Francisco beat New York in a 1993 NFC divisional playoff game and a 2002 wild card contest.

What to expect this Sunday

The 1990 NFC championship game could offer a window on this Sunday's contest, as the Giants once again boast a highly-rated defense. And the 49ers, despite giving up 32 points to the New Orleans Saints in the divisional playoffs last Saturday, have a defense that has improved steadily throughout this 2011 season.

Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty says that he's expecting a physical game: “This is not going to be a cute football game. It’s not going to be for the meek and mild."

Is it ever in a NFL playoff match?

Both teams field productive offenses, with the biggest difference coming at quarterback. Eli Manning of the Giants is a seasoned leader, and has a Super Bowl MVP award to his credit. The 49ers' Alex Smith will be enjoying his first NFL playoff go-around.

Giants and 49ers fans: Who do you think will win this time around – and by what margin of victory?

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