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A tough task under tough circumstances

It's about survive and advance


Braden from Brookfield, WI

What's different about this Giants team compared to the one we played in October?

The biggest difference to me is back in Week 5, the Giants had no running game, as they were searching for a solution due to injuries in their backfield. The last three weeks, they've averaged just under 130 rushing yards per game.

Timothy from Superior, WI

The biggest question I have in the playoffs is whether or not the team can get a decent pass rush going. Obviously, the corners are suspect, but it seems like an eternity since our front seven put consistent pressure on the QB. Eli will make mistakes and the pass rush has been better at home, but there needs to be consistent pressure, however Capers dials it up.

The pass rush almost always will be better at home if the opponent is using a silent count and with communication on protection calls more of a challenge. The pass rush has been pretty good the last two home games vs. Seattle and Minnesota, in my view. Questionable offensive lines, I know, but if steady pressure can force Manning to rely on the quick-out and three-step-drop game, big plays will be harder to come by for New York.

Wes from South St. Paul, MN

Hey Insiders, now that Ty Montgomery is primarily a RB it seems like he has added a little weight, especially the thighs. A tad slower, but much stronger. Or do my eyes deceive me?

I don't know, but maybe. I see him running less upright and more like a true running back, which accentuates the strong base he has.

Gretchen from Dousman, WI

I just have to say it again, kudos to the video staff. Wow! That season review really sets the stage. Can't wait 'til Sunday.

It'll be the coolest 100 seconds of your day.

Jesse from Ham Lake, MN

What a season. A lot of people are talking about how the naysayers were wrong. Can you really blame us? The Packers looked like one of the worst teams in the league for a stretch. It's all about No. 12. A switch flipped. Who or what flipped that switch?

I don't look at it that way. I think it's just a reflection of not being as far off as it might have looked. That's the way this league can be sometimes. Let's not forget the loss in Atlanta was by one point in a shootout, and the next week a third-down, dead-to-rights sack would have given Rodgers a great chance to beat the Colts. Granted, it looked like everything was headed the wrong direction in Tennessee, but in Washington, the offense was just starting to find a groove, and the defense clearly needed a few more healthy bodies. I tried to preach that when things are solid on the offensive and defensive fronts, as they've been for the Packers all season, the fixes are manageable. Problems in the trenches make it much harder to get over the hump, and this team's issues were not with its big-boy foundation.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Where do MM's accomplishments (eight straight playoff appearances, five of last six division titles, etc...) rate all-time compared with other Packer coaches? All NFL coaches?

Only three other coaches have led their teams to eight straight postseason appearances – Chuck Noll, Tom Landry and Bill Belichick. That's pretty good company. As for the division titles, McCarthy's six total are by far the most in team history since the NFL went to the division structure in 1967 (Lombardi's last year). Holmgren and Sherman each won three division crowns.

Glen from Eugene, OR

Why couldn't the Packers run out the clock at the end of the game? There was much pushing and shoving, but no penalties, and the clock didn't run. Then a poor punt put the Lions in position for the Hail Mary and an onside kick.

A ton of folks asking about this. The Packers got the ball back with 1:30 left, and the Lions had one timeout. With a 40-second play clock, the Packers needed to run three plays that would consume at least 10 seconds, collectively, to burn the clock without having to take a snap on fourth down. But Jason Spriggs got injured on the first running play, so the clock stopped at 1:16 and wrecked Plan A. Given the injury, and perhaps the extra-curriculars going on, McCarthy went to Plan B and decided to kneel twice and punt it back with under 30 seconds to go. An 18-yard punt was not part of Plan B.

Dave from Savage, MN

I don't really care who wins MVP or any of the other awards. Team sport, team accomplishments matter. But for what it's worth, No. 12's greatest play of the season probably was catching the shotgun snap from about 4 feet away and completing the pass. That was amazing.

It was an incredible reaction, but also a little lucky that the ball hit him square in the thigh and kind of hung there. If that hits either side of his leg, no reaction in the world could have prevented the ball from hitting the ground.

Steve from Minocqua, WI

Hi guys, I'm enjoying the playoff ride, but Eliot Wolf is reportedly interviewing with the 49ers. Is my worry justified? TT can't last forever.

Wolf is highly respected in this building, and around the NFL, as is Brian Gutekunst, another reported candidate. It's not a surprise they're attractive to other teams. Everyone wants me to look into a crystal ball, but it would be foolish to speculate on how all this might work out.

Travis from Fort Walton Beach, FL

Insiders, my favorite thing about this season is how each game felt new. Perhaps I didn't pay close enough attention in years past, but every game plan for this season seemed different this year. For Week 17, I especially enjoyed seeing the jumbo packages with multiple fullbacks, and allowing Ripkowski to let it "Rip." My dad said, "That's how they played when I was a teenager." I wish I'd grown up with those games. What were your favorite plays of the 2017 season?

The ones that worked. Seriously, though, the zone-read bootleg by Rodgers in Detroit ranks up there for me as far as design, execution, and situation. To your initial point, the weekly game plans based on the personnel available have been the behind-the-scenes story of the season, so far.

John from Chester, NJ

George Koonce broke his leg during the playoff game vs. the 49ers in '96 and was replaced one week later by, if I remember correctly, Ron Cox of the Bears. Cox subsequently returned to his team the following season. In effect, he was on loan. Under what NFL personnel rule were the Packers able to pull that off and is that still in place?

I see where you're going with this.**Like one of my chat readers yesterday**, you want to see if the Chargers can loan out Casey Hayward for the playoffs. It doesn't work that way and didn't then. Cox played in every game for the Packers back in '96, mostly on special teams before moving into the starting lineup after Koonce's injury.

A game-by-game look at the 2016 season, which resulted in a NFC North title. Photos by Evan Siegle and Matt Becker, packers.com.

Bob from Racine, WI

Insiders, with the suspension lifted on Pennel, will he be football-ready and will he play this Sunday?

If he's at practice later today, that would indicate the Packers want to find out if he's ready. Whether or not they return him to the active roster by the end of the week will give us our answer.

Bill from Menominee, WI

Mike, would you say this is Dom's tallest order to fill of the season? He's expected to get pressure on Eli with creative blitzes, keep OBJ double-covered, yet keep deep help due to a banged-up secondary. Oh, not to mention, he's prepping all week without knowing his personnel available. I think if he manages to keep the Giants under four scores, we'll credit him with an "atta boy" and a pat on the back.

It's a tough task under tough circumstances, no doubt. But let's be real. At the end of the day, Capers' plan will be judged based on whether it helps the players succeed in holding the Giants to fewer points than Aaron Rodgers can score. Survive and advance.

Nick from Chicago, IL

No question but a comment. It is absolutely astonishing how well Aaron Rodgers breaks down the details of the TD pass to Allison. In a matter of eight seconds, it is incredible how much he saw on the field and how he explains to the media every little detail. That just blows my mind.

Me, too. That's why I asked the question after Sunday night's game (even though someone else certainly would have, too), because hearing about a play like that through his mental recall gives me a different appreciation for the game he plays. After watching the play again on film Monday, my follow-up is whether he saw during the scramble that Allison's cover man switched from a defensive back to a linebacker, and if that gave him the confidence to fire that ball even though Allison wasn't really open. But I think I already know the answer.

Gus from Boston, MA

Loved the response the 49ers owner gave to a reporter who asked him why he shouldn't be dismissed for not performing: "I own this football team. You don't dismiss owners." What a ridiculous question. Thoughts on whether owners should be held accountable for their hires? By whom? Their own checkbooks?

Fans have wallets, eyeballs, and emotions to hold an owner accountable. As long as the first is open, the second is watching, and the third is anything but apathy, an owner's investment is in good shape.

Bill from Falcon Heights, MN

Guys, I wanted to get your thoughts on a discussion we had this morning at work. Is our NFC North championship more the result of us winning it, or of the other three teams losing it? After all, the Lions ended the season losing three straight, the Vikings closed losing eight of their last 11, and the Bears, well, they were the Bears. Did we "Hold Down The North," as the Packers Pro Shop division champions gear says, or did the North hold themselves down?

The Packers beat all three division opponents in the final three weeks of the season. I don't know what else you want. Division opponents have schedules that include 14 same games out of 16, and the Packers' "other" two were against the Falcons and Seahawks, two division champs. The Lions ended up having two playoff teams (Giants, Cowboys) on their schedule in Weeks 15-16, but that's how it goes. Detroit only had two playoff teams on its schedule before that (Houston, Green Bay) and lost to both. To me, this was nothing like 2013, when the Lions were totally in control after Thanksgiving and then lost at home to two non-playoff teams in Weeks 15-16 to cede the division to the Packers-Bears winner in Week 17. That's how 8-7-1 wins a division, but not 10-6.

Al from Pasadena, CA

Spoff, I attended the Rose Bowl. After watching teams stand around on the field for five minutes after every few plays, it gave me a new appreciation for the stamina of the players before the modern era of bazillions of TV commercials and play reviews. Especially of those guys who played both ways. I've never heard of anyone speaking to this factor.

I see your point, but to counter you slightly, the two-way days were based on ground games, the clock didn't stop much, and the no-huddle didn't really exist, so games were much, much shorter. That was a classic Rose Bowl, and I wish I could have seen more of it, but what a marathon. A regulation game should never take that long.

Sean from DeSoto, TX

This just became one of my favorite quotes: "The best way to fix a leak isn't to bulldoze the entire house. Maybe try the wrench first." Words to live by. Thanks, I needed that.

Wes was rolling yesterday, right from his first answer.

Jack from Merrillan, WI

Lots of other stuff going on, but I read A.J. Hawk is retiring. Do you think he is a future Packers Hall of Famer? Also, any A.J. Hawk story to share? I'll remember him as being available. Always played, knew how to QB the defense, and remember him trying to gut it out while we were shorthanded in the playoffs and he had a leg injury. Good luck to his future.

I hope and believe A.J. Hawk will be in the Packers Hall of Fame someday. He deserves it. I always appreciated his insight after games. Even though he wasn't crazy about the media, he was always willing to give me time. I remember interviewing him one-on-one his rookie year before a game against the Jets, whose rookie center, Nick Mangold, was a pee-wee football teammate of Hawk's. It was a blast hearing him reminisce about those days.

Tom from Minneapolis, MN

In the MVP race, I see Rodgers winning. I may be biased but here's my reasoning. Brady has Blount, who leads the league in rushing TDs and a defense that leads in points per game, along with the Belichick think tank. That's a lot of help. Matt Ryan has two starting RBs and the top receiver in the league. I feel Rodgers has done more with less, and if the other two were in his position, would not have been able to put up his numbers. Your thoughts?

Don't sell the McCarthy think tank short. That said, I think enough MVP voters will decline to vote for Brady because of the four-game suspension, and it'll come down to Ryan and Rodgers. The deciding factor will be whether the voters prefer high-level consistency throughout the entire year (Ryan) or an incomparable hot streak with the season on the line and a team on his back (Rodgers). It could be close. Favre shared his third MVP, but they all count.

Mike from McFarland, WI

May we all see this division win through the eyes of Jared Cook.

All the young players in the locker room need to appreciate Cook's perspective right now.

Paul from Milwaukee, WI

Guys, after the Detroit game there was a great picture of Aaron Rodgers just sitting in his locker stall with a huge grin. It looked like a smile of satisfaction, or like the weight of the world was lifted off his shoulders in that moment. Do you think his "run the table" prophetic words will sadly be put to rest now that he's accomplished "running the table"? Or do you think he will still be playing at that same level and keep things going?

I loved both pictures of Rodgers in that**postgame photo gallery**. I think in the one you reference, he was giving a smile to our superb team photographer, Evan Siegle, to reflect, however briefly, on the accomplishment at hand. The other one of Rodgers at his locker is dynamite as well, and perhaps reflects the focus he has for what lies ahead.

Andrew from Huxley, IA

Hi Mike, when Randall Cobb returns to full health, do you expect him to take over as the slot WR? Or has Allison earned more snaps even with a healthy Cobb?

Cobb is a proven performer. Allison has earned snaps. Given what McCarthy has dealt with this year, I don't expect a personnel surplus to be a problem.

Ray from Clark, NJ

Forget the MVP award, Pro Bowl selections for our tackles, or Coach of the Year for McCarthy. The Lombardi Trophy is the only award for everybody! All the other talk is a distraction. Just "Beat the Giants."

You stole my thunder.

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