A nasty road swing to Kansas City and Dallas set the Packers' back to 8-3 – also just like this year – and saw them briefly surrender their sole claim to home field advantage. Another similarity is a Dec. 1 matchup with the Bears, a team which in '96 was already out of the running but would have loved nothing more than to play spoiler for the rival Pack. Sound familiar?
Injury also affected the offensive line in 1996, which Aaron Taylor missing part of the season after his second reconstructive knee surgery. Robert Brooks suffered a massive knee injury in mid-October and was lost for the year. The injury comparisons don't go far enough, however, to match this year's unbelievable string of bad luck.
Even in '96, the Packers had to wait until Dec. 8 to clinch the Central. They did so at home, with a win over the Denver Broncos. This year, it is likely that the Pack will celebrate the first-ever NFC North crown at Lambeau, as their next win will seal the deal.
In either of the last two weeks, a win would have clinched it. Have the Packers backed themselves into a corner in losing those two NFC clashes? Safety Darren Sharper says no.
"No, we don't think so," Sharper said. "We win these next five games, we put ourselves in excellent position. I don't know if these guys are going to win-out with the games they have remaining, so it wouldn't surprise me if we still go 13-3 or win each game from here on out, you might see teams have to come through Lambeau."