The Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers seem to be going in opposite directions ahead of their Week 10 matchup. Some are even worried that the Packers’ current struggles could make this a “trap game” for Dallas. But based on a variety of factors, there’s little reason to think that the Cowboys won’t be out for blood this Sunday.
Dallas is currently 6-2 coming off their bye week while Green Bay is now 3-6, having lost five straight. Momentum will clearly be on the Cowboys’ side when these two historic franchises meet for the 37th time in their longstanding series. It will be the first game at Lambeau Field since 2016, with the last three having been in Arlington.
Why is there concern for a trap game? In addition to the Packers’ freefall, Dallas has some tough games coming up with the 7-1 Minnesota Vikings next week followed by the Thanksgiving meeting with the New York Giants. These contests could have a significant impact on the Cowboys’ season and the NFC playoff picture as a whole, and at the very least offer far more threatening opposition on paper.
But if you think that Dallas is going to sleep on the Packers, think again. There are lots of reasons why the Cowboys will be highly motivated this Sunday.
The revenge factor
Of course, the biggest story here is head coach Mike McCarthy’s return to Green Bay. It will be McCarthy’s first matchup against his former team since the Packers fired him midway through the 2018 season. After 13 seasons and a Super Bowl win with Green Bay, this will be a big day for the Cowboys’ coach and one that should have his players fighting hard to make it memorable for him.
However, as we know all too well, some of McCarthy’s success with the Packers came at the Cowboys’ expense. There are still players on the current roster who experienced both of Dallas’ playoff losses to Green Bay in the 2014 and 2016 seasons. They will be perfectly happy to throw some more dirt on the Packers’ grave in 2022.
Still with Dallas from that 2014 playoff game, when “Dez caught it” but the referees infamously disagreed, are G Zack Martin, OT Tyron Smith, and DE DeMarcus Lawrence. It was Martin’s arrival in 2014 that helped push the Cowboys’ offense to new heights and gave QB Tony Romo his last great shot at postseason success. That loss to the Packers, especially given the controversial call on Dez, remains arguably the most bitter pill that the Cowboys have had to swallow in the last 20-plus years.
More Cowboys-Packers history
The Packers came back around two years later to end yet another memorable season for Dallas. After Romo’s preseason injury, rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott began a new era for the team in style with a 13-3 record. They even crushed Green Bay along the way in a regular-season beatdown, but McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers got their revenge in the postseason. The Packers won a hard-fought battle with a last-second field goal to once again dash Dallas’ championship dreams.
Along with Dak, Zeke, Tank, and the aforementioned offensive linemen, CB Anthony Brown was on that 2016 roster. So was offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, then a backup quarterback. But despite the natural turnover in the 6-8 years since those playoff losses, the remaining personnel are all figureheads of the team who won’t have any issue using those memories to their motivational advantage.
Even if the Cowboys didn’t have McCarthy’s history or their own to pull from, just the current circumstances of this 2022 season leave them little room for relaxing. They’re still trailing the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East and can’t afford any missteps if they hope to move out of the wild card race. The Packers may not look like a contender at this point but they’re still an in-conference opponent, which could matter in eventual tiebreaker scenarios.
If nothing else, Dallas has had two weeks to focus on this game thanks to its Week 9 bye. With all of these factors we’ve mentioned, plus extra time to stew, the Cowboys should be ravenous for victory when they head into Lambeau this Sunday.