Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 12/3/11
GREEN BAY, Wis. If the Giants are going to be the team to end the Packers' undefeated season on Sunday (3:15 p.m. on FOX), it will have to be with a much better performance than New York has shown the last three weeks.At the halfway point of this season, the Giants were looking like a serious contender, at 6-2, and were coming off a win in New England on Week 9. Then it all started to fall apart with an exclamation point added this past Monday night, in a 49-24 defeat to the Saints."We know we need to play better football," quarterback Eli Manning said in a Wednesday teleconference. "We know we're going against a good team (in the Packers), but we feel if we play our caliber of football and play to our potential, we've got a good shot to win."Manning has not been the problem for New York, leading the Giants to the fourth-most passing yards in the NFL. He has 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing passes at a four percent-higher mark than in his previous seven NFL seasons.It has been New York's defense that has let them down and that is not a good problem to have with Aaron Rodgers and the league's top-scoring offense coming to town.The Giants currently rank 26th in passing yards allowed and will be without pass-rushing specialist Osi Umenyiora (ankleknee) to try to disrupt Rodgers in the backfield. Even though Rodgers is susceptible to sacks (27 this season) he is completing passes at a league-best rate of 72.8 percent with 33 touchdowns and only four interceptions.But after an embarrassing performance by New York's defense against New Orleans and Drew Brees earlier this week, Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell decided to motivate his players at the expense of Rodgers."We have to get after his ass," Fewell said about Rodgers to New York media. "If we do that and he scrambles, then that is the price he is going to have to pay because we are going to hit him."Once those comments reached Green Bay, it had become bulletin board material as Fewell's remarks were included in a packet for the players on Friday."He just put a lot of weight on his players," Packers tight end Jermichael Finley said. "As a player right now, that ain't cool from a coach. Things like that fire me up. It fires a team up when your opponent starts moving their gums."While New York's defense has struggled, Green Bay's has been hit and miss. The Packers have given up the second-most passing yards in the league but also lead the NFL in interceptions. Green Bay is 30th in total yards given up, but 14th in points allowed.It has been those drastic differences in defensive statistics that have given the Packers defense a motto of Bend, but don't break' this season.Green Bay is five games away from a perfect season, but a Packers win on Sunday would also drop the Giants to 6-6 and turn a once-promising season for coach Tom Coughlin's team into a strong possibility of missing the playoffs entirely.If Manning can get Green Bay's defense to bend and break, this game could turn into a shootout. However, that's a tough style of game to beat the Packers at with their NFL-best 34.7 points per game.For Green Bay, the playoffs are inevitable. The Packers even a two-game lead in the race to clinch home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. But the Giants are also the first of five obstacles in Green Bay's quest of perfection.Not that the Packers seem to be concerned about the possibility of 16-0."It's not that we're not talking about it, it's just, right now we have other goals," Rodgers said this week. "We're trying to wrap up the division, get a home playoff game secured and if we're fortunate enough to be sitting at 14 or 15-0, then we can start talking about it a little bit."Follow Paul Imig on Twitter
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