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Giants and Packers square off for NFC playoff game

by
New York Giants Beckum catches a pass for a touchdown next to Green Bay Packers Peprah in the first quarter during their NFL football game i
New York Giants Beckum catches a pass for a touchdown next to Green Bay Packers Peprah in the first quarter during their NFL football game i

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WSAU-TSN) - While a berth in the conference championship game is the main prize that awaits the winner of Sunday's do-or-die showdown between the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants from historic Lambeau Field, both combatants in this NFC Divisional Playoff may have a little revenge on their minds as well.

The Giants had their 2010 postseason prospects wrecked by a 45-17 thrashing at the hands of the Packers in their most recent stop in Wisconsin, which took place in the second-to-last week of that year's regular season. That lopsided victory also served as a springboard to Green Bay's run to an eventual Super Bowl title, with the team prevailing in six consecutive games to capture the Lombardi Trophy beginning with that result.

Green Bay also got the better of New York in a late-season meeting held at MetLife Stadium back on Dec. 4, outlasting the Giants in a 38-35 thriller that featured five lead changes and a combined 716 passing yards and seven touchdowns from all-star quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning.

That hard-earned triumph helped the powerful Packers claim the coveted top seed for the conference playoffs and set up the club's first postseason contest at home since the 2007 NFC Championship, in which the Giants foiled what turned out to be Brett Favre's final appearance in a Green Bay uniform by coming through with a 23-20 overtime decision.

New York followed up by bouncing then-unbeaten New England in Super Bowl XLII to claim a surprise NFL title as a fifth seed, and the 2011 squad appears to be getting hot at the right time as well. After posting convincing wins over the crosstown-rival New York Jets and Dallas to close out the regular season with an NFC East crown, the fourth-seeded Giants delivered possibly their most complete performance of this campaign in last Sunday's clash with Atlanta in the opening round of the playoffs.

The Giants dominated the Falcons across both lines of scrimmage en route to a 24-2 blowout, with New York rushing for a season-best 172 yards on the afternoon while its resurgent defense yielded a scant 247 total yards in the near-shutout.

New York has permitted just 30 points during the three-game tear and comes into Sunday's tilt with no shortage of swagger, as illustrated by All-Pro defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul's bold guarantee of a win this weekend.

"We are very confident," Pierre-Paul said following the Atlanta game. "Last time [the Packers] came in here and they beat us, which they shouldn't have, and we are just going to go out there and play some great football. It's going to be cold and the atmosphere will be theirs, but we're going to be ready to play."

The defense will surely face a stern challenge from Rodgers, however. The Green Bay sharp-shooter has thrown for 773 yards and eight touchdowns Pack's last two ousts of the Giants.

Rodgers rested in the Packers' Week 17 finale, with well-regarded backup Matt Flynn shattering franchise single-game records for passing yards (480) and touchdown strikes (six) in a superb fill-in performance to lead the defending world champs to a 45-41 win over Detroit. Green Bay also held out wide receiver Greg Jennings (knee), running back James Starks (ankle), offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) and rookie return man Randall Cobb (groin) against the Lions, but all are on track to suit up for Sunday's pivotal tilt.

It's unclear as to whether the Packers will have offensive coordinator Joe Philbin available, however, after the valued assistant took an indefinite leave of absence from the team during its playoff preparations. Philbin's 21-year-old son, Michael, died in a drowning accident this past weekend.

Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy didn't believe the situation would have a negative effect on his players' focus when he addressed the media on Wednesday, however.

"Personally, I really don't have the words for you to express emotionally how you would feel for Joe and what his family is going through," Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy stated. "We are very blessed to have this opportunity of playing this playoff game at home, and he would want us more than anybody to pour our hearts into this preparation more than anybody. That is what this football team has done."

The Packers bring a 13-game home winning streak into Sunday's matchup and have come out on top in each of their three Divisional Round games they've hosted after receiving a bye week, having previously done so in the 1996, 1997 and 2007 NFC Playoffs.

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