|National Football League|
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By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- Green Bay Packers superstar Aaron Rodgers continues to throw touchdowns at a prolific rate, even though no quarterback has been sacked more.
The New York Giants, meanwhile, are hopeful that Eli Manning's recent track record after bye weeks can help him avoid a career-worst fourth straight game without a TD pass.
The injury-plagued Packers are seeking a sixth straight victory Sunday night when they visit the Giants in a matchup of division leaders who have won the last two Super Bowls.
Green Bay (7-3) has used this streak to tie Chicago for first in the NFC North while New York (6-4) leads the East despite losing its last two games.
"Both teams this weekend, the last two Super Bowl winners, play," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "Each is in the lead in their division. So it's got a tremendous and exciting format."
These teams last met in the divisional playoffs last season when Manning threw for 330 yards and three scores to lead New York to a 37-20 upset of the 15-1 Packers, who beat the Giants 38-35 in the regular season.
"I think you learn that it's all about playing the right way at the right time and we didn't play our best football and they did," Rodgers said. "They were the better team and they won, and that's why they moved on."
Rodgers has thrown 27 touchdowns to just six interceptions despite being sacked 32 times. He proved himself in the clutch yet again last Sunday with a 22-yard TD pass to Randall Cobb with 1:55 left for the go-ahead score in a 24-20 victory at Detroit.
The reigning league MVP leads the NFL with a 107.3 passer rating.
"I feel Aaron is having a very good season," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's what makes us go on offense."
Manning, meanwhile, is enduring his worst touchdown pass drought since Nov. 28-Dec. 12, 2004, in his rookie season. He has denied reports of a tired arm.
The Giants had last week off and now look to win their fifth straight post-bye contest. Manning has thrown for 1,290 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception with a 68.1 completion percentage over his previous four games after the bye.
"I think you just try and get rest and come back fresh," Manning said. "Obviously, I think having a week off just to get your mind off of football a little bit, then you come back and you're just excited, re-energized, have a great week of preparation."
Manning is 0-3 in the regular season against the Packers, although he beat them both years in the playoffs en route to Giants' Super Bowl titles.
He will be facing a Packers defense that was forced to use six rookies at times last week due to numerous injuries. The most notable absences are Clay Matthews (hamstring) and former defensive player of the year Charles Woodson (broken collarbone).
Matthews, who did not take part in practice Wednesday, is doubtful and Woodson is out.
"They're obviously two of our best players on defense and two of the better players on our whole football team, but that's the game of football," McCarthy said. "That's why it takes a team. They're both playmakers, impact players, and it's important for us to try and create other opportunities for the other guys on our defense."
Cornerback Sam Shields is also out.
The Packers' pass rush has produced an NFC-best 33 sacks. They dropped Matthew Stafford five times last week without Matthews and his team-high nine sacks.
Manning has been sacked 12 times for the lowest total among players who have started the majority of games, although six have come in his last two games.
Getting pressure on Rodgers will be the goal for a Giants pass rush that ranks 13th with 25 sacks. New York sacked him four times in last year's playoff matchup.
"We haven't rattled him yet," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. "We've had success against him, slowed him down in his progressions because of some different looks. As far as being rattled? No, I haven't seen that yet."
The Giants will also need to try to neutralize Cobb, who has six touchdown receptions over his last four games. Greg Jennings is expected to miss his seventh straight game with a torn abdominal muscle.
If this game comes down to the kickers, New York could have an edge with Lawrence Tynes making 28 of 31 field-goal attempts and leading the NFL with 109 points. Green Bay's Mason Crosby has made 11 of 18 attempts for the league's worst percentage after he misfired on two of three against the Lions.
Updated November 21, 2012