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Point, counterpoint: Are the Giants the Packers' new rival?


! Editor Vic Ketchman says no.

It's not a rivalry until the Giants say it's a rivalry. That's the way it is because it takes two to make a rivalry and, as it stands right now, this is a one-way street.

Knock them out of the playoffs this year. That might do it.

You might be thinking the Packers did that in 2010, when they walloped the Giants in the next-to-last game of the regular season, effectively knocking them out of playoff contention. If that's what you're thinking, forget about it, because the perception in New York is that DeSean Jackson's punt return was the "death" blow to that Giants team.

The Eagles are the Giants' rival, just as the Bears are the Packers'. The Packers and Giants share a lot of history, but it was the Giants that gave the Packers Vince Lombardi and a five-championship run in the 1960's that laid the foundation for one of the most successful franchises in professional sports. How do you hate a team that gave you the greatest coach of all time?

How about the Giants' founder, Wellington Mara. He was one of the driving forces in Pete Rozelle's share-the-wealth model that allowed for professional to prosper in the NFL's smallest market. How do you hate a team whose owner's munificence is one of the reasons for your existence?

All of the anger Packers fans feel toward the Giants is the result of two games: Playoff losses at Lambeau Field to the Giants in the 2007 and 2011 postseasons, when the Packers' path to the Super Bowl was clear, have created a kind of revenge motive for this Sunday's game in New York. The Packers have dominated this series in the regular season, however, so another regular-season win, though it would be sweet, won't settle the score.

You know what it's going to take to get even: Go to New York in January and end the Giants' season as the Giants have twice ended the Packers'. Do that and, yeah, this might become one of the NFL's hot-new rivalries.

Until then, the Packers will be just another game on the Giants' schedule.

! Staff Writer Mike Spofford says yes.

You bet the Giants are a rival. They're a big one now.

A team doesn't come into Lambeau Field in January and end the Packers' title dreams twice in a span of five years and not become a rival.

In my book, there are two kinds of rivalries – familiar ones and high-stakes ones. The Packers will always be rivals with their division opponents, because they play the Bears, Vikings and Lions twice each season, and the history with all of them goes back such a long way. Everyone knows what familiarity breeds.

When the familiar and the high stakes were combined in the 2010 NFC Championship in Chicago, that was the best of both worlds.

But the postseason can build high-stakes rivalries regardless of locale, which has happened before with the Packers. Back in the 1990s, the 49ers and Cowboys were both big playoff rivals.

Green Bay knocked San Francisco out of the playoffs three straight years (1995-97), and even beat the Niners in a thrilling 1996 Monday nighter on Chris Jacke's 53-yard field goal in overtime, before Terrell Owens' last-second TD catch in the '98 Wild Card game. That was a cathartic moment for Bay Area football fans if there ever was one.

The Packers were on the other side of that against the Cowboys, suffering three straight postseason defeats in "Big D" (1993-95). The Packers never got their "Owens revenge" because there wasn't another playoff meeting (thanks to the Carolina Panthers in '96), and the 28-point blowout in the '97 regular season at Lambeau was a year after the Dallas dynasty was officially dead.

The 49ers and Cowboys aren't really rivals of the Packers' now, and that's OK. Rivalries don't have to last forever. They can exist within a certain era, and the Packers are in a second one with the Giants, who lost to Green Bay in both the 1961 and 1962 NFL title games.

The Packers and Giants have won three of the last five Super Bowls, and the rivalry has played a role in each championship. Aside from the Giants' two playoff wins in '07 and '11, the Packers began their Super Bowl run with a 45-17 regular-season whipping of New York in 2010 that eliminated the Giants from playoff contention and started the Packers on their way.

What role will this Sunday night's game at MetLife Stadium play in the rivalry? No one knows yet. The stakes aren't as high as the playoffs, but there's still plenty of importance in this one for both teams. Combine that with the last five years and that's enough to call this a rivalry.

Cast your vote in the poll on the right, please.

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