The next stop for the Green Bay Packers on their pursuit of perfection is an opponent that has ruined unbeaten seasons for foes in the past. The New York Giants, however, currently do not resemble a team posing such a threat. The Packers will present a second straight well-rested opponent to the stumbling Giants on Sunday when these teams headed in opposite directions meet at MetLife Stadium. Led by Aaron Rodgers' astounding 33 touchdown passes to four interceptions, Green Bay is five games away from a perfect regular season. The Packers will wrap up the NFC North with a victory and a loss by Detroit at New Orleans on Sunday night. Green Bay has won 17 straight - four shy of the NFL record including the playoffs set by the Patriots from 2003-04.
The Packers' win streak began with a 45-17 home rout of the Giants in the next-to-last week of the 2010 regular season. New York would have clinched a playoff spot and eliminated Green Bay with a victory. Instead the Giants missed the playoffs for a second straight year and appear on the verge of another collapse. They have lost three straight, and have a short week to get ready after allowing 577 yards - the franchise's second-highest total - in Monday's 49-24 loss at New Orleans. New York (6-5) has dropped one game behind Dallas in the NFC East.
The Giants were defenseless against a New Orleans team coming off its bye. The Packers have also had time to rest since their Thanksgiving win at Detroit. New York could be even more hard-pressed to generate a pass rush to counter Rodgers since two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora is expected to miss the game with an ankle injury. Umenyiora was mainly a non-factor in last season's meeting as Rodgers threw for 404 yards and four scores. Another high-scoring affair could be in order, with Rodgers third in the league in passing yards with 3,475 and Eli Manning fourth at 3,358. The Packers are 31st in pass defense (287.8 yards per game) and the Giants 26th (251.2).
The Giants own the NFL's worst rushing attack in yards per game (82.3) and per carry (3.2). They will get a boost if Ahmad Bradshaw returns after missing the last four games with a broken bone in his right foot. Although Green Bay's pass defense has been at times subpar, Manning will have to be wary of the unit's league-high 22 interceptions. He was picked off four times in last season's matchup. The Packers have all kinds of incentives to keep their locomotive full steam ahead this weekend. With a win, they would punch their ticket back into the playoffs, could be toasting an NFC North title by Sunday night's end and would be sitting pretty with four games to go to complete the unbeaten regular season after getting past what appears to be their last remaining stiff challenge on the schedule. The road test, however, may not be as severe as it once appeared. It will be incumbent on Green Bay's patchwork offensive line to keep Rodgers clean, as the Saints did with Brees in his mistake-free, 363-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Giants' nonexistent four-man rush last week.