Green Bay Packers (11-0) at New York Giants (6-5)
Kickoff: Sunday, 3:15 p.m.
TV: FOX, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver
Keys to the game: The Giants' offense has lacked balance and the ability to run outside the tackles with RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) sidelined. He's listed as questionable after being limited at practice on Friday, his first on-the-field workout since the injury four weeks ago. Unless he returns, the brunt of the offense again falls on QB Eli Manning. He'll rack up yards against a bend-but-don't-break secondary that has a league-high 22 interceptions and uses turnovers to generate a few extra possessions per game. That's lethal against Aaron Rodgers & Co. Without DE Osi Umenyiora (ankle), Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck must have monster games. If not, Rodgers will have his way against a defense that was just blistered for 363 yards and four touchdowns by Drew Brees. Green Bay has a plus-15 turnover margin.
Fast facts: The Packers have won a franchise-record 17 consecutive games and are 11-0 for the first time. ... Manning is the fifth player in NFL history with at least 3,000 yards passing and 20 touchdowns in seven consecutive seasons.
Series history: Dating to 1928, the Packers lead the regular-season series 2¬6-21-2 and are 4-2 in the postseason. Of those playoff games, the Giants beat the Packers for the NFL championship in 1938 and the NFC Championships in 2007. In between Green Bay won NFL title games in 1939, 1944, 1961 and 1962. They've combined to win 20 NFL championships – 13 for Green Bay and seven for New York.
By the numbers: 21.7 -- Average margin of victory in the Packers' three-game winning streak on the road against the New York Giants. Green Bay hasn't lost to the Giants as the away team since 1992. 10 -- 10 Number of players the Giants have placed on injured reserve this season. LT Will Beatty (eye) recently became the 10th member to receive this designation.
Team statistics: Packers on offense – First in scoring at 34.1 ppg (fourth in total yards, 28th rushing, third passing. Giants on defense – 27th in scoring at 25.2 ppg (28th in total yards, 24th rushing, 26th passing). Packers on defense – Tied 13th in scoring at 20.6 ppg (30th in total yards, 13th rushing, 31st passing). Giants on offense – Tied 16th in scoring at 22.9 ppg (11th in total yards, 32nd rushing, fourth passing).
Game plan: 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.
The Giants are treading dangerously close to another late-season collapse of not getting to the postseason, losing their last three games and coming off a Monday night drubbing of 25 points inflicted by New Orleans. Expect Packers head coach/play-caller Mike McCarthy to follow the Saints' vertically minded attack and make liberal use of MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers to try to pierce New York's ragged coverage. It will be incumbent on Green Bay's patchwork offensive line to keep Rodgers clean, as the Saints did with Drew Brees in his mistake-free, 363-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Giants' nonexistent four-man rush.
Green Bay's defense turned up the heat on a frigid post-Christmas game at Lambeau Field last year and forced six turnovers in a 45-17 rout of the Giants. Eli Manning threw four interceptions in that game. He could be forced to throw a lot Sunday if the Giants are short-handed again at running back. Bradshaw has been out the last four games with a foot injury and is questionable. So, figure Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers to counter with a lot of nickel, put pressure on Manning and limit the pass-catching opportunities for young standout Victor Cruz.
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