Not unlike 2007, when the Patriots were chasing perfection, the Giants could be all that stands between the 2011 Packers and attaining a 16-0 regular season.
The Packers are 11-0 for the first time in the 93-year history of the NFL's most successful franchise. The next stop on their quest for an unbeaten season is playing the Giants in East Rutherford, N.J. The Giants will have plenty to play for, as well, as they chase the Cowboys for the NFC East title.
That is where the Patriots rallied for a 38-35 win over the Giants on the final weekend of 2007 to become the first team to go 16-0 in regular-season play. The Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl that year to keep New England from going 19-0.
"You can't go 16-0 if you don't go 12-0," Packers cornerback Charles Woodson said. "We'll have another test coming (Sunday), and we're looking forward to it."
Unlike some of the classics of the series, no championships will be at stake next week.
In 1939, the Packers beat the Giants 27-0 for the championship at State Fair Park in suburban Milwaukee. That avenged a 23-17 loss to the Giants in the title game at the Polo Grounds in 1938. The Packers beat the Giants in 1944, as well, earning the crown with a 14-7 win at the Polo Grounds. That would be the team's last championship under Curly Lambeau.
This is the 50th anniversary of the first of the Packers' five championships under Vince Lombardi, with the Packers destroying the Giants 37-0 at City Stadium to capture the 1961 NFL title. With that, "Titletown" was born.
The Packers won the championship again in 1962. That year – just like this year – the Packers took a 10-0 record to a Thanksgiving showdown at Detroit. The Packers lost that game, of course, but they finished the regular season 13-1, then beat the Giants 16-7 in the bitter cold of Yankee Stadium for back-to-back championships. That, of course, is the larger goal for these Packers.
The Giants earned a measure of revenge in brutal cold of Lambeau Field in the 2007 NFC Championship Game, escaping with a 23-20 victory after Brett Favre's overtime interception.
Next Sunday's game won't have quite the same meaning but it will be the latest big game between these two titans of the sport.
While the Packers will be coming off of a mini-bye, the Giants will be coming off a short week with their Monday night game at New Orleans. If Green Bay isn't adversely affected by a lengthy layoff after its 27-15 win at Detroit on Thanksgiving and gets past the Giants, what's left on the schedule will make the fulfillment of the undefeated record a good possibility.
Three of the final four games are at Lambeau Field, where the Packers have won 10 in a row and are 16-1 since November 2009.
After a visit from the Raiders, Green Bay's remaining road contest is against the injury-riddled Chiefs. The Packers then will host NFC North rivals Chicago and Detroit. Chicago almost certainly will be starting Caleb Hanie rather than injured starter Jay Cutler at quarterback, and Detroit has lost 20 consecutive games in Wisconsin since 1992.
"I don't feel any pressure by it. It's a great place to be. It's nice to be undefeated and to be part of those conversations," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Anybody would like to be part of those conversations. But, really, not to be cliche, it's about the next game because if you don't get number 12, that talk's over.
"We won't shy away from the talk if we get to that, but it's a hypothetical situation. We're focused on winning our division right now."
In fact, McCarthy termed the pursuit of the perfect season a "bonus goal" that comes after wrapping up the division title for the first time since 2007 and securing home-field advantage for the NFC playoffs by having the conference's top record. Those two objectives could be attained in short order. With Hanie throwing three interceptions against Oakland and the Packers' victory over the Lions on Thanksgiving, Green Bay is four games ahead in the NFC North. San Francisco's loss at Baltimore on Thursday gave Green Bay a two-game edge in the race for homefield.
"I still don't think there's a specific recipe to beat us," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "Our defense is playing better they played very well (against the Lions) and got three turnovers and the offense, when we're not turning the ball over, we're tough to beat."
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