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A postseason picture; give me the two seed

The best road to the Super Bowl might be through Atlanta


Rene from La Habra, CA

When labeling a player, did the word "dirty" get thrown around as often as it does now, when it came to old-school football?

Yeah, it did, but it had a different meaning back in the '70s. Back then, if you said a player was dirty, you meant he was really dirty, like wanna kill you dirty. Most of the players that weren't considered dirty back then would be considered dirty today, and the players that were considered dirty back then would be suspended for most of the games today.

Jim from Des Peres, MO

Regarding those desiring to meet the Seahawks in the playoffs to settle a score, in light of the last two weeks, perhaps we should be careful what we wish for.

Bring them to me. I have some things I want to say to them.

Grant from Rochester, NY

Is there a scenario where the Packers use two roster spots on place kickers?

I've seen teams have a field goal kicker and a kickoff kicker, but that wouldn't apply here. Here's a little story about kickers. It's from 1981. A rookie kicker named David Trout was a training camp sensation. He had a thunderous leg and was driving his kickoffs through the back of the end zone. Matt Bahr was a dependable short-range kicker, but he was having a bad camp at the same time Trout was thundering his kicks, which caught the fancy of the fans in preseason games. At cut time, it seemed like a logical decision to keep Trout and cut Bahr. Hey, it's all about what have you done for me lately, right? Well, by the end of the season, Trout was missing extra-point attempts and his only other season in the NFL would be as a replacement player during the strike of 1987. Bahr would kick in the NFL for another 15 seasons. The moral of the story is sometimes the present will fool you.

Paul from Burlington, WI

Vic, McCarthy keeps saying Crosby needs to be accountable for his play. What can Crosby do to show McCarthy he's accountable?

Being accountable means acknowledging your mistakes and correcting them. He has to start making kicks. This isn't hard to figure out. Kickers are paid to make field goals. If that doesn't happen, the Packers will reach a tipping point in their patience and commitment. I think we all know that. I also think a lot of fans want the Packers to reach that point sooner than later, but that's a typical fan reaction that is often ignored when it's proven to have been the wrong course to follow. What if the Packers had listened to the fans that wanted to trade James Jones?

Rob from Liverpool, UK

I was wondering about the relationship between head coach and GM. They seem to either work in tandem, or for a failing franchise they both share the blame. Are there any good examples of where the two simply seem to work at crossed purposes and failure or success landed firmly at the door of one or the other?

Bobby Beathard and Joe Gibbs are the best example. In the spring, Beathard handed Gibbs his team, and Gibbs took it from there. As for failure or success landing firmly at the door of one or the other, should the GM fail to acquire talent, they're both going down.

Raphaël from Paris, France

Every time we face defenses that bring extra men in the box or extra rushers, the offense is able to find some room downfield for the receivers. We saw it in Houston, we saw it again on Sunday in Chicago. Obviously, we'd like to face these kinds of defenses in the playoffs, but from whom can we expect to see it?

I've known Mike Smith for a long time. He's a "Cover Two" guy who always jammed the passing lanes and made Tom Brady and Peyton Manning play underneath. I would suspect he'd play that way against Aaron Rodgers. We saw what the 49ers did against the Packers. They have the corners to bring extra rushers. The Giants have beaten the Packers by rushing four and dropping seven. The Seahawks have a top three secondary, but once the Packers were able to run the ball in the second half, that secondary began to loosen up. The Redskins struggle to defend against the pass. They're No. 6 against the run so they almost certainly would invite the run and load the passing lanes. The Cowboys have a star pass rusher in DeMarcus Ware, so they can get pressure without sending extra guys. We already know Minnesota and Chicago.

Charles from Charleston, IL

I will be in attendance for the Titans game this weekend and my question is, do you think this is a trap game coming off an emotional, division-clinching win over the Bears?

No, I don't. I think this is a game against a team on a short week that will be playing in biting cold against a team that seems poised to play its best football of the season.

Saif from Evansville, IN

Jan. 12/13, frozen tundra compared to sunny California. Am I the only one thinking the No. 3 seed is looking a whole lot better than the No. 2 seed right now?

Let me paint a picture for you. Let's say the Packers are two, 49ers three, Redskins four, Seahawks five and Giants six. Now let's say the Giants beat the 49ers. If the Packers win their game, they might play in Atlanta in the NFC title game. Now let's say the Packers are three and the 49ers are two. The Packers might have to beat the Giants in the wild-card round and then win in San Francisco in the divisional round. Which road would you rather travel?

Todd from Springville, UT

Is there more to McCarthy sticking with Crosby than contract?

Sure there is. He's rewarding past performance. He's sticking with a guy in whom he believes. This also goes to philosophy. This is a draft-and-develop football team. Mason Crosby is a draft pick. When you stick with one of your own, you send a message to all of your draft picks that you are committed to them. By being patient and sound in your decision-making you send a message of stability to everyone in football.

Jon from McHenry, IL

Vic, "Cover Two." Your thoughts?

I'm scheduled to see the therapist today, which is good because I had a nightmare last night that I was being chased by a man, a bulging man in a blue leisure suit in an RV with the words "Cover Two" written on the side of the RV. I think I'm crackin' up. Last year it was Cullen Jenkins. This year it's "Cover Two." It just won't go away.

Eric from San Diego, CA

Clay Matthews seems to have a chronic hamstring injury. Have the trainers ruled out gluten as a strong contributory factor (it causes inflammation and thus compromises recovery, which leads to a chronic injury). We need this guy healthy.

I'm not into that health food stuff. I covered a team that ate greasy cheeseburgers, chain-smoked and was handed a bag with two cans of beer in it as it boarded the plane following road games, and that team won four Super Bowls. Then they got a dietician that cut out greasy food, we weren't allowed to smoke on the plane anymore and they stopped passing out beer, and they stopped winning Super Bowls. Maybe that gluten stuff gives Matthews big muscles. Did you ever think of that?

Sean from Vermontville, MI

Now that we've got our sights set on the No. 2 seed, how's the tiebreaker with the 49ers work? Does 12-4 beat 12-3-1?

Nope. Go Seahawks.

Eric from Charleston, SC

The Packers ran just about every run to the left. I found it strange, given the run blocking from Barclay and Sitton.

I don't know what the left-right count was on Sunday, but there's an old saying, "Run at a pass rusher."

Matt from Bloomington, IN

I liked the bit last week about wanting to host the Seahawks in the playoffs, but are you sure, given the way they are playing, that this is what you want?

I like good theater.

Don from Deer Lake, WA

Vic, I was discussing with a fellow Packers fan in Illinois during the game why we have not had any downfield passes. Can you enlighten us?

Forget about the cover number. It's all about how a defense tilts its coverage. The Bears played their two safeties very deep. I wrote in the in-game chat that they were playing 20 yards or more off the ball. The Bears were bound and determined not to be beaten deep in the middle of the field. What that did was create two obvious gaps in the coverage. One was in the middle of the field in front of the safeties. The other one was down the sideline between the safeties and the corners, provided the receivers could get behind the corners, which James Jones and Randall Cobb did on the right side. We're fixating too much on "Cover Two" and not enough on how each team is personalizing its coverage. The Jaguars played in a way similar to the Bears, but Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny was able to get deeper with his drop; that's why it worked for the Jaguars. The Lions personalized their two-safety look by dropping their corners off and making the Packers play underneath on the outside. Every game is different. Don't try to throw a blanket over all of them.

Koigi from Lynchburg, VA

You are the head coach of the Packers. It's Week 16 and if the Vikings win they are in, but if they lose, the Giants are in. Do you rest your starters?

If it's the difference between the second seed and the third seed, I don't rest my starters. I want the No. 2 seed.

Steve from Saint Charles, MO

Mason's misses have looked a lot like errant golf shots and several commentators have made this analogy. What did "Tin Cup" do to cure the shanks? Do you think it might help Mason?

"Tin Cup" got romantically involved with a therapist to whom he was giving golf lessons. I don't think that's an option here.

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