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Ask Vic

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Who are the teams that can get hot?

Posted Dec 4, 2012

Snow in early forecast for the Packers' game against the Detroit Lions

Darryl from St. Louis, MO

Vic, last week you made a comment that really struck a chord with me. You said the Lombardi Trophy doesn’t go to the best team in football. It goes to the team that wins the biggest game. The last few years have taught us that it's all about going into the playoffs on a roll. Your comment has freed me from the obsessive-compulsive way of thinking that was robbing me of all enjoyment for this game. I now see that anything is possible.

I don’t like the teams that start fast early in the season. They don’t grow. They tend to run out of gears late in the season. I thought last year’s Packers team ran out of gears late in the season, whereas the 2010 team was in full shifting mode when the playoffs arrived. This year’s team has that same look. It needs to overcome a few problems, injuries being the No. 1 problem, but if that happens, look out.

Greg from Bellevue, WA

What's your take on the state of the Lions right now? Three straight home losses, playoff hopes dashed, coach calling out the players. Seems like a dangerous game for the Packers.

You’re describing an angry team and angry teams can be dangerous. That’s why it’s very important to do something early in the game to break their spirit. That’s the flip side of the emotional state of a team that’s angry because it’s out of playoff contention. Those kinds of teams will shut it down if you hit them early, because they don’t have hope in their tank. Don’t let an angry team hang around. Don’t become their Super Bowl.

Brian from Dothan, AL

Vic, I was just re-watching the Vikings game on DVR and noticed that with one minute left in the third quarter, on a 23-yard run, Adrian Peterson lowers his shoulder and head to deliver a blow to Morgan Burnett. Peterson's helmet clearly hits Morgan's. Since the league is trying to prevent concussions, do you think he'll be fined for initiating helmet-to-helmet contact?

It’s OK to hit a defensive player in the head, or even stiff-arm him in the face. You can hit him on the knees, too.

Brian from Port Washington, WI

I was wondering what you thought of Morgan Burnett’s performance this week?

Morgan Burnett’s performance? You’re asking me what I think of Morgan Burnett’s performance? He had seven tackles, one tackle for a loss, three passes-defensed and two interceptions that changed the game and you ask me what I think of Morgan Burnett’s performance?

Hansen from Whitewater, WI

What do you think of Northern Illinois being selected to the Orange Bowl as a team from a non-AQ conference, with a loss, also, and being selected over teams from BCS conferences that had great seasons, such as Oklahoma and Georgia?

I think it’s another example of the need for a playoffs system in college football.

Rae from Marquette, MI

I thought Buck's comment that the Packers offensive line was bad was uncalled for. Did he ever block anybody in the NFL? Your thoughts.

So, if you have to have played the game to comment on the game, shouldn’t you have to have been trained to work in the media to join the media?

Alex from Long Beach, CA

Vic, in a 16-game season, six games are played against divisional opponents. Four are played against an entire AFC division (this year we played the AFC South). Another four games are played against an NFC division (this year we played the NFC West). That’s 14 games. How does the league schedule those last two games? This year it was the Giants and Saints for the Packers.

The remaining two games are played against teams in the other two divisions in a team’s conference, and those opponents are determined by where they finish in the previous year’s standings. First-place teams play first-place teams, and so on and so forth. The Packers, Giants and Saints all finished in first place in their respective divisions last year.

Ben from Columbus, WI

Are the Lions playing for pride on Sunday night?

They’re playing for their jobs. They’re playing for their livelihood and reputations as professional football players. They don’t go back to the dorm when the game is over. Professional football players go back to the real world. They play for the tape because the tape announces to everyone in their world what kind of player they are and what their value is.

Andrew from Rockford, IL

Do you think it’s necessary to get a young running back in the draft?

I would consider it a need. I think you always need to deepen your stable of backs, for the simple reason that it’s a position that tends to sustain injuries, for the obvious reason that everybody is trying to hit the guy with the ball.

Jason from Summerville, SC

Do you think our offensive line, running back position or lack of tackling is the Packers’ biggest concern to win games?

Every team has concerns about its tackling and the lack of depth on its offensive line. I think the Packers’ biggest concern is finding and settling on a hot running back.

Justin from Christchurch, New Zealand

You like to watch, so which team (Packers aside) catches your eye?

In the AFC, the Patriots are peaking. They’re No. 1 on offense and they have a strong run-pass balance. They stop the run on defense. The next gear for them is stopping the pass. I like Denver because they have a No. 3 defense that stops the run, the pass and rushes the passer. I think the Broncos have the best overall defense in the league. Houston is for real. One more team in the AFC interests me: the Steelers. This is a rebuilding year on defense for them, but the young guys in the secondary are jumping up and the Steelers are No. 1 in both overall defense and pass defense. If they get Roethlisberger back healthy, they could get hot. In the NFC, the two power teams have been up and down recently. I’m not sure what to think about the Giants and 49ers. The Falcons have the best record but their numbers aren’t impressive. Frankly, I’m not sure the NFC is as strong as everyone seems to believe. I really like where the Packers are. I think their arrow is pointing up in a conference where a lot of arrows are starting to point down.

Chris from Knoxville, IL

On Sunday, the wife and I will be driving up for the game. What do you suggest for pregame warm-up?

There are rumblings that this Sunday could produce our first snowstorm of the season. I would suggest arriving early, dressing warmly and stocking up with provisions.

Don from McFarland, WI

When the Packers bring someone up from the practice squad, how do they fill that empty spot on the practice squad?

They might release a guy from the active roster and sign him to their practice squad after he clears waivers, or they might sign somebody off the street to their practice squad. It’s a game of replacement.

Mark from Kingsford, MI

The Packers must have one of the worst third-and-one percentages in the league. Why? There seems to be a lack of imagination as well as execution on those plays.

It’s one of the weaknesses of a zone-blocking scheme. Zone blockers tend not to be road-graders, and cutback runners tend not to be pounders.

Paul from Norfolk, VA

With the Giants loss and their tough remaining schedule, there seems to be a decent chance that either the Redskins or Cowboys could steal the division. Who from the NFC East would you rather run into in the playoffs? I'm thinking Dallas. I want no part of RGIII and Alfred Morris.

Anybody but the Giants.

Scott from Livingston, NJ

Today in school, I heard two other kids talking. One said, “Bryce Brown was so good yesterday, he got me into the playoffs with all his points.” Then the other kid said, “You know he fumbled and cost the Eagles the game, right?” Then first kid replied, “Who cares?” and laughed. That made me sad.

There are two major professional football leagues: the National Football League and the Fantasy Football League. I like to watch the games in the National Football League.

Tom from West Bend, WI

Can a previously fumble-prone running back be coached up to avoid this?

Tiki Barber was coached up to avoid fumbling. There have been others. High and tight works for running backs and barbers. Get it?

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