Two consecutive losses for Green Bay, one at home against the hated but patently better Minnesota Vikings and one on the road against the woeful Buccaneers, sent many writers to their desks to bang out haphazard mid-season epitaphs for the team once thought to at least be in the race for the NFC North; however, it has also, with little doubt, given the team a sizeable chip on their collective shoulder going into a home game on Sunday against Dallas.
This may mean little; on paper, to be sure, the Cowboys should outmatch the Packers. However, the wounded, desperate beast, as a rule, is one you don't want to underestimate.
At 4-4, the Packers are almost certainly out of the division race; at 6-2, the Cowboys are atop theirs in the East, playing better than they have all season. The key to a fifth win in a row and a road loss, it seems, will be the Cowboys ability to forget the past few weeks, which have painted two very different pictures for the respective teams dueling it out at Lambeau this weekend.
"The nature of this league is that you can never get that way," said linebacker Keith Brooking. "They're dealing with a lot of injuries, obviously, they've lost a couple in a row now, and the way their division is now, with Minnesota kind of running away with it, they're going to be a desperate football team. Whatever it takes to motivate you as a person and go out there and play at your highest level, you've got to find that inside of you."
If any edition of the Cowboys is capable of such levelheadedness, at least in the past decade or so, this might be the one. With a mature core of leadership in the locker room, Dallas has avoided even the slightest controversy and perfected the very cliched, very effective approach of "one day at a time"; this has, in no small part, taken them to the top of the NFC East hill.
"At the end of the day, what have we accomplished? We haven't really accomplished anything," Brooking continued. "We have a lot of football left to play, half our season's over, but our goals that we have for ourselves as a team, we haven't reached them yet.
"So we've just got to keep playing."